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Rivian Drops Most Affordable Explore Package for R1T, R1S

2022 Rivian R1T 2022 Rivian R1T | Cars.com photo by Joe Wiesenfelder

Electric-vehicle startup Rivian has once again stirred the pot with its customers. After battling ongoing supply chain constraints, delaying orders and raising prices on its R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV earlier this year, the automaker has now dropped the base Explore Package for both vehicles — including for existing preorders. That leaves only the top Adventure Package, which raises Rivian’s cost of admission by thousands.

Related: Rivian Hikes Prices in Response to Inflation Insanity

Previously, the R1T Explore started at $67,500 and the R1S Explore at $70,000 (prices do not include the destination charge); Adventure models are priced from $73,000 and $78,000, respectively. The two packages are separated mainly by their interior appointments: The Explore gets matte-black finishes and heated vegan leather seats, while the Adventure’s upgrades include heated and cooled vegan leather seats, natural-grained ash wood trim and a premium Meridian sound system.

Possible Culprits: Demand, Supply Chain Issues

On its website, Rivian cites low demand for the Explore’s departure, stating that the Adventure model is the more popular choice. The startup also says that offering just one package for each vehicle will lessen supply chain roadblocks and get more vehicles into customers’ hands faster. According to a report by Automotive News, Rivian’s production is lagging behind schedule: The automaker has produced 6,954 vehicles in the first half of the year, tracking well under its 25,000 annual goal.

“The Explore Package was designed as our entry price option and it was our expectation that many customers would choose it. However, to date, only a small percentage of our customers have chosen this configuration with the vast majority selecting Adventure. By focusing on the Adventure trim package, we’re able to streamline our supply chain and ultimately deliver vehicles more quickly,” explains a note on the company’s website.

While many Explore customers took to the Rivian Owners Forum to defend the base model and express their concerns about its departure, others praised Rivian’s decision, claiming that the Adventure model was the better choice in the first place.

Reservation Holders Must Make a Choice

Current reservation holders for the Explore model can switch to the Adventure Package or cancel their order altogether. All deposits will be refundable through Sept. 16, and any customer who cancels the order and later decides to reinstate it will be able to do so by the same date. Meanwhile, shoppers who place a new reservation will pay a $1,000 deposit, with deliveries expected to begin in late 2023.

Federal Tax Credit in Jeopardy

Rivian’s new starting prices may put some customers at risk of losing their federal EV tax credit eligibility. Under the current guidelines, the R1T and R1S are eligible for the $7,500 tax credit, but the upcoming EV tax overhaul caps the maximum price on pickup trucks and SUVs at $80,000 starting Dec. 31. According to Automotive News, average order prices for Rivian vehicles hover around $93,000 with options.

Affordability on the Horizon?

Despite Rivian’s recent price hikes, there may be some relief for shoppers who have been priced out of buying the battery-powered pickup or SUV: The automaker has revealed plans to introduce more affordable R1T and R1S models by 2024. The pair will likely get a lower-range battery (currently, the R1T gets an EPA-rated 314 miles, and the R1S gets 316 miles), and dual motors will replace the current quad-motor setup.

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