A Look at Rivian’s Future: Will They Be Tesla’s Biggest Competitor?

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

Shortly after the announcement of Rivian and Volkswagen’s joint venture, Rivian hosted a short, impromptu investor call to discuss a few key items. If you want to listen to the call yourself, you’ll need to provide a few short pieces of information at this link. The day after, on the 27th of June, Rivian held its Investor Day.

Let’s dive into all the awesome stuff that was unveiled by Rivian during the call and during Investor Day itself.

Volkswagen Investment

The first item on the list was of course the announcement of the joint venture with Volkswagen. The call confirmed that VW will be providing that $1B initial investment, alongside the $4B planned for 2025 and onwards.

Rivian has said that it intends to use this investment to focus on the Rivian R2 ramp at its Normal, Illinois factory, as well as develop its upcoming facility in Georgia. They also confirmed that they will be providing software and ECU (electronic control units) hardware for Volkswagen EVs going forward, which will be based on the R2 or R3 platforms.

The companies will be sharing the responsibility of the joint venture corporation, and Rivian and Volkswagen will each appoint one co-CEO. If you’re interested in the details of how the Joint Venture and the investment work, we highly recommend you listen to the call.

New Vehicles, New Platforms

Rivian also showed off a slide quite similar to Tesla’s slide at its Shareholder Meeting – with 5 vehicles under the wraps. Of note is the updated R1 Gen 2 platform has a new vehicle, which looks similar to the R1S Suburban Edition that has been previously teased. The R2/R3 platform also has a smaller vehicle in its lineup, which looks similar to a wagon or hot hatch. Finally, the “Affordable Mass Market” platform has a full-size SUV, as well as a smaller SUV and what could be a sedan.

All in all, Rivian has some exciting news to look forward to, with the Joint Venture serving as both a lifeline and an opportunity for Rivian to push towards more affordable mass-market vehicles, which will help cement them as an affordable EV brand.

Rivian's Investor Day Slide
Rivian's Investor Day Slide
Not a Tesla App

New Battery Pack and Bi-Directional Charging

Another major update for Rivian’s platforms – including the Gen 2 R1 series and R2/R3 platform, is an updated battery pack. This updated pack is structural – and has greatly reduced the cost of the structural components by approximately 50%, which is a massive improvement. Rivian will be using 4695 cells in their updated pack, similar to Tesla’s 4680 cells. These cell sizes are easier and cheaper to manufacture but cooling them has been difficult – even for Tesla. This difficulty in cooling has resulted in reduced maximum charge rates, but Tesla has recently had some drastic improvements in this field.

Every Rivian vehicle already supports the V2H/V2L vehicle-to-home/vehicle-to-load protocols from CCS, but it has thus far been disabled. Rivian will be introducing a bidirectional charger for V2H, alongside a software update to unlock the functionality on all previous Rivian vehicles.

Electronics and the Maximus Motor

A key portion of Volkswagen’s investment is also access to Rivian’s new electronics – the Zonal controllers. Rivian has built a zone-based ECU that controls various parts of the vehicle in centralized locations – resulting in their Gen 2 platform having 60% fewer ECUs, a 1.6-mile reduction in cable harness length, and a 44lb weight reduction.

These are some pretty impressive numbers and are a great step towards Rivian moving towards scaling mass production of their vehicle platforms.

Of course, it's not just the battery and electronics – Rivian’s in-house motor has received an update, with a 30% cost savings and a 30% reduction in labor per unit for their single-motor-per-axel motor variant. This motor will be going onwards to replace the Enduro and will be the primary drive unit for the R2 and R3 vehicles.

Rivian Spaces, Shop, and the Rivian Adventure Network

Rivian’s sales fronts are known as Rivian Spaces – genuinely a place to get to see a vehicle, hear about it from a Rivian salesperson, and learn about all its features. Spaces have generally been sparsely located – with just 12 open today in 2024, and just 2 open last year.

To address this, Rivian plans a drastic expansion of its Spaces, with 40+ being opened throughout 2024 and 2025. This is going to be Rivian’s big step towards bringing their vehicles to the mass market, and away from the specialty consumers that they target today.

The Rivian Shop will also be receiving plenty of updates – alongside the newly launched shop UI. This will include a dedicated platform for selling pre-owned Rivians, including lease returns.

The Rivian Adventure Network will be opening to the public this summer, which means non-Rivian vehicles will be able to charge there soon for the first time. Rivian has committed to expanding the RAN and aims to fill “charging deserts” that it locates through ABRP.

Rivian previously adopted NACS as a standard and is expected to begin producing vehicles with NACS built-in soon, so we could expect the RAN to also use NACS plugs soon.

Service Centers and Service

Beyond the expansion of Spaces, Rivian currently has 59 service centers open today and aims to have 100+ service centers through 2025. This is a pretty big increase, and Rivian also mentions that it intends to have Rivian Mobile Service be able to reach customers who aren’t near a Service Center.

They intend for their service centers to remain fairly small, with roughly a 50% smaller footprint than other comparables, as approximately 70% of their work orders are completed via mobile service. This is fairly similar to Tesla’s approach with their large-footprint Collision Centers located centrally, and smaller Service Center/Delivery Center combinations spread throughout major cities. Tesla has previously mentioned that approximately 80% of their service orders can be completed by a mobile technician, and Rivian is very similar.

Rivian plans to introduce an AI chat system that can pull vehicle logs and data, as well as known defects to help assist Rivian owners and customers with service requests before they need to speak to an agent. The AI will be able to schedule service appointments, and can even suggest routine maintenance, such as tire rotations. This service will be arriving for Rivian’s commercial vehicle platforms first – the EDV and ECV.

Musk Confirms Tesla FSD V12.5 Is Being Tested on Chuck’s Turn

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

Yesterday, Elon Musk confirmed that FSD V12.5 is being tested on Chuck’s Unprotected Left Turn. This is a big step – as we usually see Chuck’s UPL getting tested a few weeks or months before the release of another set of software.

Chuck’s Left Turn

Chuck’s Unprotected Left Turn, or UPL, has regularly been seen as a challenge for FSD. Chuck’s UPL is a complex, 2-stage unprotected left turn into high-speed traffic. Ever since 2022, Tesla has been testing on Chuck’s UPL, which is in Jacksonville, Florida.

Vehicles are intersecting from different sides at different portions of the turn, making it one that is truly difficult for both humans and for FSD to get right. It can be a difficult challenge for regular drivers, and ensuring FSD gets it right every time Tesla releases a new build seems to have become a bit of a tradition for Tesla.

As such, we generally see Chuck’s UPL getting tested by Tesla’s ADAS testers prior to a new build being prepared for release to employees. These ADAS testers are pretty obvious – they’ve got manufacturer plates on, and the telltale 2-second halt at stop signs.

FSD V12.5 Around the Corner?

Although Tesla is already testing FSD 12.5, it doesn’t necessarily mean that v12.5 is around the corner just yet – there are still plenty of users that still need to receive FSD v12.4.3 before Tesla jumps to v12.5. About 20-25% of FSD users now have FSD 12.4.3, but most are still on update 2024.14.9 with FSD 12.3.6.

FSD v12.5 is expected to begin features such as fleet communication and the merger of city and highway software stacks, to FSD.

What we’re seeing in Florida on Chuck’s turn (Tesla refers to Chuck Cook in release notes) is likely just the ADAS testers working on the early builds of v12.5. As such, don’t get too wrapped up around v12.5 – most are still waiting for nag-free FSD for the most part.

Tesla Update 2024.26.1: Changes and More Information About Tesla's Summer Update

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

Tesla has been preparing another large update with its upcoming 2024.26, but as Tesla gets ready to release it to customers, it looks like we may see some changes. We’ve previously called this the Summer Update, and we’re going to stick with that.

Leave your Spring umbrella behind, and grab some sunglasses (or not, if you have FSD in North America) and let’s take a look at update 2024.26.1.

YouTube Music

It looks like YouTube Music, which was being tested in update 2024.26, isn’t available in 2024.26.1. YouTube may have been in early stages of testing or Tesla found some bugs with the feature that need to be addressed before a public release.

YouTube Music is still coming, but right now it looks like it’ll arrive in a point-release update, (e.g. 2024.26.X). This way, at least all the other features will arrive for everyone, rather than delaying the entire release for a few bugs with YouTube Music.

While we’re sad to see the delay for this music app, this is exactly why Tesla tests things in advance with their QA team and fleet of wave 1 employees. We’ll be glad to see it arrive in our cars when its bug-free, and at least we’re still getting Amazon Music with update 2024.26.1.

Updated Climate Panel

There’s a new Climate screen in update 2024.26, however, it looks like it’ll be just for the Model 3 and Model Y initially. The Model S and Model X use practically the same interface, but it may need some adjustments for the larger screen before it’s released. It’s not clear whether it’ll be available for the Cybertruck out of the gate.

We haven’t seen any images of the updated climate panel yet, but it looks like it’ll be a drastic departure from the screen we know today. It’s expected to include options to automate preheating and precooling of the vehicle on certain days and times and it could make other options more intuitive such as turning off vents on the passenger side (tap and hold the airwaves, but only works on some vehicles).

Other often requested features are to make it easier to turn on the Keep Climate, Dog Mode, and Camp Mode options when the vehicle is put into park.

Many customers have also requested passenger presets so the vehicle could remember settings for different passengers. This could be used for features like passenger climate settings, seat position, seat heater and more, but instead of multiple passenger settings, we may see Tesla add Passenger Profiles that could be used for a wide variety of features. Back in 2021, Musk agreed that it would be a good addition.

Castle Doombad Classic

One addition we saw from update 2024.26 to 2024.26.1 was the addition of the full Castle Doombad Classic game. Castle Doombad has you play as the villain as you defend your castle, but it’s only available on AMD Ryzen-based vehicles (MCU 3). It was released in the 2023 Christmas update and with this 2024.26.1 update the game goes from a demo to the full classic game.

Weather Forecasting

Finally, the Weather Forecast app – a pop-out display when you tap the temperature reading – will be arriving with support for North America, Europe, and other regions. Likely, this will include most regions, but you’ll need to shell out for Premium Connectivity.

The AQI (Air Quality Indicator) is already available in China and should be available in most regions as well, but it will also require Premium Connectivity. You can read more about the weather and AQI features here.

Release Date

Tesla appears close to starting the public release of this 2024.26.1 update. Tesla has recently released major versions (like 2024.26) to employees only and then released a bug fix update as a point release before making it available publicly.

Update 2024.26.1

FSD Supervised 12.3.6
Installed on 0% of fleet
0 Installs today
Last updated: Jul 16, 4:28 am UTC

We could see Tesla release 2024.26.1 as early as this week if further issues aren’t identified, although, in typical Tesla fashion, it’ll be a very gradual release.

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