WHILE navigating the rapidly evolving landscape of electric vehicles, a persistent undercurrent of anxiety consistently surfaces among drivers – range anxiety.
I had a walk-through of the R1T and R1S – the two consumer-facing vehicles by the EV startup company Rivian – and got to see the tech-adapted response to driver anxiety.I toured the Rivian R1T and R1S[/caption] A hidden button in the car’s infotainment unveils a spate of new driver tech[/caption]
There is a chicken and egg problem as EV adoption grows year over year – there are either too many early consumer adopters or too few chargers.
Fast chargers, capable of charging a car to 80% in minutes and optimal choices for long-haul commutes, are frequently backed up with dozens of drivers in popular areas.
Electric vehicle technology and the infrastructure around it are improving daily.
But the pace of implementation has stymied several long-range trips for drivers hoping to get a charge after a few hours.
THE HIDDEN BUTTON
Some battery electric vehicle manufacturers – taking a page from the tech giants’ playbook – have developed post-sale updates that fix the previously unforeseen problem.
Like iPhone iOS or app updates, over-the-air vehicle updates have improved several driving components on new EVs.
For example, the Rivian’s infotainment system tries to solve anxieties from the comfort of its plush front seats.
And the system keeps improving and adapting to changing roads as American highways rapidly evolve.
Drivers set to go on long trips can map out when and where to get the best charges via the car’s center console.
On the bottom left-hand side of the car’s massive infotainment screen, drivers can find a directional arrow encased in a white circle.
One click of the button will pull up the car’s proprietary navigation system.
While searching for the best route, the Rivian will suggest when and where to stop to charge along the trip.
Drivers can set several range-impacting options, including if they plan on using the car’s cabin heating or cooling systems.
The Rivian will also allow drivers to set how much charge they want by the end of a trip.
If a Rivian driver wants to end the trip with 80% battery, for example, the car will likely suggest a last-minute charge at a level 3 charger close to the destination.
Both the R1T, the company’s full-size pickup, and the R1S, the full-size SUV, have the same infotainment system.
The R1S is the fourth most popular EV on the American car market.
INSIDE THE START-UP
Rivian is one of the biggest bets in America’s transition to non-carbon-producing vehicles.
The company hit sales records in 2023 with its two consumer vehicles.
Now, it is set to launch the R2 series in March.
The upcoming series is expected to be a mid-size option to the current full-size truck lineup.
Rivian also was released from its exclusive contracts with e-commerce giant Amazon.
The EV producer built last-mile trucks exclusively for Amazon, but the contract change will allow the producer to develop more trucks for other companies.