The guy also waited three years for the SUV to arrive.
The owner of a brand-new, $85,000 Rivian R1S suffered a major setback only two days after taking delivery in New York when the SUV got bricked in a snowbank, making it utterly useless. A flatbed truck had to remove it and bring it to a Rivian service center in Massachusetts. To make matters worse, the owner was hit with a $2,100 towing bill.
Per Insider, Chase Merrill put down a deposit on the R1S three years ago and waited patiently for it to arrive. It finally did on March 10. He had no concerns about driving it through the snow in the Adirondack Mountains near his family's property. The reality of living in a mountainous part of the country is winter weather like this, but he wasn't concerned about driving his new ride. Other members of his family already have R1Ts, and he bought his R1S based on their recommendations.
What could go wrong?
"I hit about 2 ½-feet of snow, and it just stopped right there," Merrill said. "I had seen all the Rivian marketing campaigns with the cars just eating through the snow, so it was kind of like, man, this is disappointing."
Dislodging cars from snowbanks is nothing new for him, but this situation was very different. After unbuckling himself from the driver's seat and waiting for other drivers to come and help him out of the snow, Merrill accidentally activated a safety feature that resulted in the SUV getting stuck between the park and drive gears. It had become bricked. Rivian says that the R1S did exactly as it was designed to do in a potential slide-away situation like Merrill's. Only thing was that the SUV was not sliding away.
"There was an unfortunate cascade of events and edge cases that led to this situation," said Wassym Bensaid, Rivian's senior vice president of software development. "But we take this feedback as a gift. It's great input for us to improve the product."
That may be all fine and good for Rivian but not for Merrill. He's now considering getting rid of the R1S, fixed or not, and replacing it with a Toyota Tacoma or another gas-powered truck. This is not the first time we've learned of a new Rivian becoming bricked.
Just last month, an R1T owner in San Diego saw his truck get bricked only a minute or so after plugging it into a 150 kW Electrify America (EA) charger. The owner blamed EA, but it's still a scenario where the charging station and the EV failed to work as intended.
While it's worth bearing in mind Rivian is a new automaker, and EA is still working out numerous problems, these companies have a responsibility to their customers to ensure their products work as intended. EA is a Volkswagen Group subsidiary with 800 charging stations (at last count) and almost 3,500 individual chargers online.
Getting bricked, whether charging or driving in snow, is a safety hazard because it leaves drivers and their passengers stranded. The good news for Merrill is that Rivian offered to reimburse him for the tow fee. The bad news is that when his R1S was returned, a critical error message appeared on the dash, forcing him to send the SUV back.
"The attitude the whole time from customer service was that a Rivian owner should be able to handle this no problem," Merrill said. "The car is super impressive and I want the company to do well [but] I think I'm just not the right person to be an early adopter."
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