If you’re the proud owner of a Rivian R1T who’s less proud of your electric pickup’s power-retractable tonneau cover, Rivian’s not so pleased with it either. The powered tonneau has proven unreliable for some customers, who’ve reported jerky, noisy operation and, in the worst cases, an inability to open completely. The startup truck maker recently sent emails out to R1T reservation holders who had optioned the powered tonneau and are still waiting for their trucks, announcing that the option has been discontinued while Rivian works on a solution.
The news comes to us via multiple members over at Rivian Forums who received the communication from the company last week. In one such email, Tony Caravano, the company’s head of customer engagement, says that while the powered tonneau is off the market, prospective owners will have to choose either a manual tonneau or none at all in the interim. At least their trucks won’t be delayed as a result. Here’s how it reads in full:
We recently shared with R1T owners that we are upgrading the powered tonneau cover. As we go through the process, we are removing the powered tonneau cover from production. We plan to re-introduce this feature later, but a date has not been set. For the foreseeable future, all R1Ts will come with either a manual tonneau cover or no tonneau cover.
Since you have selected a powered tonneau cover, your configuration will need to be updated to either a manual tonneau cover or no tonneau cover. It’s important to note this choice will not impact your delivery timing estimate coming later this month.
Our manual tonneau cover is comprised of four interlocking panels constructed of a durable aluminum composite that slide in and out of the bed’s integrated siderails. When not in use, the panels store in a cargo bag and fit easily in the Gear Tunnel. The manual tonneau cover is fully lockable and offers protection against light weather. If you are taking delivery soon, your panels will ship later. Our current estimate is early 2023. Photos and a full demonstration of the manual tonneau cover will be shared before then.
If you choose no tonneau cover, vehicles delivered in the next few months will include the integrated siderails in the bed. In early 2023, we will transition to a design without the integrated siderails. It’s worth noting that when driving an R1T with no tonneau cover, there is little to no impact on range when the bed is empty.
On the surface, this seems reasonable as Rivian figures out how to make a more reliable automatic bed cover. The problem is, multiple reservation holders have also commented that powered tonneaus can’t be added after the fact. The style you choose now is what you’re stuck with. And because Rivian hasn’t provided a timetable for when it expects the working powered tonneaus to be available to spec, buyers can’t simply delay their orders until that happens. We’ve reached out to Rivian for confirmation of and comment on these details, and will update this post with whatever we learn.
Now, interestingly, if you already have taken delivery of your R1T with its powered tonneau and it isn’t working, Rivian has already committed to replacing the mechanism for your truck with the new design, once it’s ready to go. The company says it “expects to have a solution in early 2023.” Why the new powered tonneau can’t be added to other trucks is unclear.
It’s all a part of ongoing growing pains around Rivian’s first products, the R1T and R1S. After frustrating the public by raising prices, walking those hikes back, then axing base models and canceling preorders, the difficulties in scaling up are cropping up in other ways, with manufacturing hurdles like this tonneau issue. Anecdotally I can say I am seeing an awful lot of R1Ts on the road; I wonder how their owners’ experiences have been thus far.