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This article was published on March 2, 2022

Rivian’s EV price hikes infuriated customers and now pre-orders are excluded

The 20% price increase made many consumers cancel their reservations

Rivian’s EV price hikes infuriated customers and now pre-orders are excluded
Ioanna Lykiardopoulou
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Ioanna Lykiardopoulou

Ioanna is a writer at TNW. She covers the full spectrum of the European tech ecosystem, with a particular interest in startups, sustainabili Ioanna is a writer at TNW. She covers the full spectrum of the European tech ecosystem, with a particular interest in startups, sustainability, green tech, AI, and EU policy. With a background in the humanities, she has a soft spot for social impact-enabling technologies.

If you’re thinking of buying a Rivian EV, you might want to reconsider. The company has announced some steep price increases for its R1T truck and R1S SUV. 

The changes, which were updated on the company’s website Tuesday afternoon, signals an approximately 17% increase for the R1T, pushing the base price to around $78,975 from $67,500.

The R1S goes up approximately 20% to $84,000 from $70,000. 

Rivian R1T
The R1T. Image: Rivian

And here’s the worst part: these price increases not only impact prospective buyers, but also existing reservation holders. 

The only exceptions are customers who are in the final steps of completing their transaction with Rivian, meaning the vehicle’s ready or is entering production.

But everyone else who has pre-ordered a Rivian EV? They’ll have to dig deeper into their pockets. 

Rivian R1S
The R1S. Image: Rivian

To (kinda) soften the blow, Rivian is offering customers the option to retain the original prices if they’re willing to accept a… downgrade.

Specifically, they’ll receive a new dual-motor version of the EVs instead of the quad-motor they originally reserved. And a 418km-range battery instead of the original 500km-range one. 

If they accept this, consumers can keep their existing reservations, with the R1T’s base price remaining at $67,500 — the and R1S’s at $70,000. But they’ll have to wait a couple more years, as deliveries of the new dual-motor vehicles will begin all the way in 2024.

Unsurprisingly, these changes have enraged Rivian’s existing customers — and rightfully so. 

Here are just a few opinions of reservation holders, highlighting how they feel they’ve been “scammed,” and that Rivian’s move has broken their trust and loyalty, proving them wrong for supporting an emerging startup: 

There’s also been a surge of people canceling their orders — and I don’t blame them one iota.

Ehm… what about Rivian’s ethics?

Rivian is citing inflation “on the cost of supplier components and raw materials” as the cause of the price increases, but consumers seem to believe that inflation is only a pretense to mask the company’s desire for a larger gross profit. 

But it’s not the price increase itself that I find most disturbing. It’s the fact that Rivian is showing so little respect to the consumers who have supported it from the very beginning. 

To change the predetermined price of a product, for which consumers were loyally waiting, is unacceptable. And to soothe the burn by offering a lesser version of the product for the same price? Insulting. Insulting as all hell.

I’m not arguing that inflation hasn’t affected the automotive industry — on the contrary, the average cost of a new car has surged in the past two years. Nor am I saying that manufacturers won’t need to increase their vehicle prices to adapt. But no company wishing to establish itself should let any changes impact pre-existing orders.

Rivian tries to win customers back

Tow days later, the company admitted to “making a mistake,” as CEO RJ Scaringe wrote in a letter to Rivian’s customers. And to fix it, the EV maker is cancelling the price hikes for pre-orders made up until March 1, 2022.

Those who cancelled their reservations as a response to the increases will also have the opportunity to reinstate them. As per the letter:

For anyone with a Rivian pre-order as of the March 1 pricing announcement, your original configured price will be honored. If you canceled your pre-order on or after March 1 and would like to reinstate it, we will restore your original configuration, pricing and delivery timing. Our team will be sending an email in the next few days with more details.

Is this enough, though, to restore the customers’ broken trust? I’m not sure.

Rivian did damaged consumer loyalty and trust in its brand — which will probably take years to heal. 

Update, December 15, 2021, 1125 CEST: Added information on Rivian’s response

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