March 20, 2023

Rivian is temporarily discontinuing the R1T’s Powered Tonneau Cover because it keeps breaking

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If you are the proud owner of a Rivian R1T which isn’t as proud of its power-retractable tonneau cover, Rivian isn’t happy about it either. The motor tonneau has proven to be unreliable for some customers who have reported jerky, noisy operation and worst cases, inability to open completely. The startup truck maker recently sent emails to R1T reservation holders who had opted for the powered tonneau and are still waiting for their trucks, saying the option has been discontinued while Rivian works on a solution.

The news comes to us through several members at Rivia’s forums who received notice from the company last week. In one such email, Tony Caravano, the company’s director of customer relations, says that even though the power tonneau is off the market, potential owners have to choose either a manual tonneau or no tonneau at all. At least their loads won’t be delayed as a result. This is what it reads in its entirety:

We recently told R1T owners that we are upgrading the powered tonneau cover. During the process, we remove the powered tonneau cover from production. We plan to reintroduce this feature at a later date, but no date has been set. For the foreseeable future, all R1Ts will either have a manual tonneau cover or not.

Since you have opted for a powered tonneau cover, your configuration must be upgraded to either a manual tonneau cover or not. It’s important to note that this selection will not affect your delivery time estimate later this month.

Our manual tonneau cover consists of four locking panels constructed of durable aluminum composite that slide in and out of the bed’s integrated side rails. When the panels are not in use, they can be stored in the luggage bag and fit easily into the Gear Tunnel. The manual tonneau cover is fully lockable and offers light weather protection. If you receive delivery soon, your panel will be sent later. Our current estimate is early 2023. Pictures and a full demonstration of the manual tonneau cover will be shared before then.

If you don’t choose any tonneau cover, vehicles to be delivered in the coming months will include integrated side rails for the bed. At the beginning of 2023, we will switch to a design without integrated side rails. It’s worth noting that driving the R1T without the tonneau cover has little effect on range when the bed is empty.‚Äč

On the surface, this seems reasonable as Rivian figures out how to make a more reliable automatic bed cover. The problem is that several reservation holders have also commented that powered tonneaus cannot be added afterwards. Now the style you choose is the one you’re stuck with. And since Rivian hasn’t given a timeline for when it expects working engine tonnage to be available to tech customers, buyers can’t simply delay their orders until that happens. We’ve reached out to Rivian for confirmation and comment on these details and will update this post as we learn.

Interestingly, if you’ve already shipped your R1T with its powered tonneau and it doesn’t work, Rivian has already committed to replacing the mechanism your truck with a new design when it’s ready to go. The company says it “expects to have a resolution in early 2023.” Why the new motor ton truck cannot be added to other trucks is unclear.

It’s all part of the ongoing growing pains of Rivian’s first products, the R1T and R1S. After frustrating the audience raising prices, walking those hikes backthen burning of basic models and cancellation of pre-orders, scaling difficulties manifest themselves in other ways due to manufacturing barriers like this tonneau problem. Anecdotally, I see an awful lot of R1Ts on the road; I wonder what the experiences of their owners have been so far.

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