You may remember that last month I pointed out that electric truck-building startup Rivian had a couple of patents that were very much in line with similar ideas I’d been thinking and writing about. Now, someone at the site RivianForums has taken some time to mock up what these modular rear pods would look like on the base truck, and, if reality turns out to be anything close to this, I think we’re in for something good, possibly something that could finally push the modular car idea into the mainstream. Maybe.
The patent for Rivian’s modular rear body system included this diagram:
From this, the RivianForums artist mocked up these:
The basic flatbed.
A low-side pickup box.
A higher-side pickup box with a separate camper top.
A full SUV module, one that gives a bit more height as well. Does the section that covers the existing roof offer any big flat things storage area, I wonder?
And a side rail module, with tie-downs for things like motorcycles, it seems.
These all look great and seem genuinely practical, though with any modular system, there’s one big issue that needs to be addressed: storage.
The whole point of a modular system is that you can rapidly and easily change what your base vehicle is good at doing: carrying passengers one day, then hauling lumber the next, or sticking a small auto-gyro in the bed or whatever.
To do this, though, you need a bunch of modules, and they’re big and cumbersome and not easy to store. Probably expensive, too. So, this modularity approach needs to be addressed from an overall systems angle: How do owners get modules? Is there a dealer-based system to swap them out? Do they subscribe to a module service that allows them to change as often as they want for a monthly fee? Do service people come to them to swap and remove modules, or is there a central location?
Maybe private module co-ops will spring up? I’m not sure yet, but I like the general concept, it just needs a well-considered back end to work.
Rivian, whatcha got?