Rivian warns of delays for EVs with biggest battery and smallest price

Rivian is pushing back its most expensive, furthest-driving configurations of its electric pickup truck and SUV, warning R1S and R1T reservation-holders that they could face another year's wait if they stick with their original choice. Deliveries of the two EVs are now underway, albeit in small numbers, but Rivian has more than 70,000 preorders to work through.

The initial R1T Launch Edition – Rivian's first, well-specified configuration of its electric pickup – began deliveries first, with the first R1S Launch Edition SUV being claimed by the automaker's CEO, RJ Scaringe, himself. While the numbers of EVs shipped are still low, and Rivian has been prioritizing employees so as to better work through lingering software kinks, the promise was a significant ramp-up in 2022.

Today, in an email to reservation holders that was reposted to Reddit, Scaringe set out some new expectations in addition to dropping some extra details. As of December 15, the CEO wrote, "we had approximately 71,000 preorders for the R1T and R1S in the US and Canada." Of that, "the large majority" opted for the Adventure Package trim, with Rivian's Large pack battery.

That battery is rated for 314 miles of driving by the EPA for the R1T, while the R1S SUV is rated for 316 miles in total.

Rivian also has a Max pack battery, which costs $10,000 more but promises 400+ miles of range. However that configuration – though available for reservation-holders to select – wasn't expected to go into production until later in 2022. Now, Scaringe says, that timeline has been pushed back further.

"In order to serve the largest number of preorder holders, we will be prioritizing building the Adventure Package with Large pack battery during the next year," he wrote in his email. "Explore Package preorders and vehicles with a Max pack battery configuration will follow in 2023. In setting our delivery timing, we optimized our build sequence around the build combination that would support us ramping as quickly as possible and therefore have the largest possible positive climate impact."

Unexpectedly, Scaringe also confirmed some reservation details. Of the roughly 71,000 preorders, only around 20% are for the Max pack battery.

Rivian will be reaching out to those customers – who, the CEO acknowledges, could have put down reservations as far back as 2018 – in January, with the offer of changing their preorder to the R1T or R1S Adventure Package with Large pack battery. That way, they can take delivery sometime in 2022. If they opt not to switch, however, that could mean waiting until the following year before they get their new EV.

It's not just those who wanted the bigger battery that might be frustrated today. The Adventure Package is Rivian's more expensive trim, with the R1T starting at $73,000 before incentives for that configuration. The Explore Package, meanwhile, starts at $67,500, but those who were hoping to save the $5,500 now will also have to wait longer to get their EV.

There's more than stretched patience at risk, too. All eyes are on just how the Biden Administration's Build Back Better framework might evolve the incentives around electric vehicles, and modify the current $7,500 federal tax credit that the R1T and R1S enjoy. Though the plan is to increase that figure, the exact amount would also be dependent on factors like where the EV was produced and the nature of the workforce.