It’s already been a tough year for Rivian, and now the high end electric truck manufacturer has issues recalls due to potential steering defects.
Rivian is already behind on production of its electric trucks for 2022 and a major recall Friday October 7th adds to the specialist automaker’s woes. In a letter to customers, Rivian recalled around 12,000 of its R1S, R1T, and fleet electric vehicles because of concerns over improperly tightened fasteners.
Why did Rivian recall all of its EVs?
Rivian’s Chief Executive RJ Scaringe sent customers a letter Friday recalling 100% of its vehicles because of a single nut in the front suspension. It doesn’t sound like much, but this improperly tightened nut could result in the entire steering column disconnecting, with loss of steering.
The defect involves a fastener connecting the front upper control arm and steering knuckle. If not properly tightened, this could affect the wheel alignment and lead to vibrations, noise, and changes in how the steering feels. In rare cases, the defect could lead to complete loss of connection to the steering column.
The recall encompasses all Rivian R1T pickups and R1S SUVs made before late September. It also includes some of the Electric Delivery Vehicles (EDVs) made by Rivian for Amazon. The total number of vehicles recalled is 12,212, though Rivian estimates only 1% (around 122 vehicles) have the defect.
Before the recall, the company had received seven complaints of issues potentially related to the defect. There have been no reports of the nut coming fully loose, however, and no reports of injuries.
Customers were advised to take their vehicle to one of Rivian’s service centers to have the fasteners checked. If needed, the nuts can then be tightened. The company aims to complete repairs within 30 days.
Not a great year for Rivian
Rivian has manufactured 14,317 vehicles in 2022, which is quite a bit shy of its goal of 25,000. In total, since fall 2021, the automaker has built around 15,300 vehicles. Before the recall, Rivian had also increased the price of its EV trucks and had significant delays in production. Like many EV makers and automakers in general, including Tesla, Rivian has suffered from supply chain issues.
More recalls for Rivian
Unfortunately, this isn’t Rivian’s first recall in 2022. In May, Rivian recalled about 500 of its R1T electric pickup trucks sold in 2022 in the United States. This was over concerns that the airbags may not deactivate when a child is in the front passenger seat.
Rivian issued a second recall notice on September 30th, 2022. This time, the problem was “suspect seat belt assembly anchorage installations,” affecting certain model year 2022 R1T and R1S vehicles. The defect could mean that the seatbelt may not adequately restrain the passenger in a crash, increasing the risk of injury. Rivian urged customers to get their vehicles checked for free at one of their service centers.
You can see all current recalls for Rivian here, including the latest wheel nut recall.
Funding woes for Rivian
Last week was especially tough for Rivian as a local court in Georgia rejected a joint proposal by Rivian and the state’s Department of Economic Development for project funding. Previously, the local development authority had said that Rivian would be granted $1.5 billion in state funding for its $5-billion manufacturing plant.
With the court’s decision last week, the promise of that $1.5 billion, made back in May, seems unlikely to materialize. Whether this will affect the company’s plans for the site remains to be seen. Originally, Rivian intended to employ some 7,500 workers at the Georgia plant and to develop a battery cell production line. The plant was slated for opening in late 2024, depending on permitting and approvals. Rivian already operates a U.S. production plant in Normal, Illinois.
This latest problem has also worried investors, both because of the scope of the recall and the possible consequences of the manufacturing defect. Shares in the company have dropped nearly 70% since the start of 2022.
The outlook for Rivian
The good news is that the issue is quick to resolve, requiring just a 15-minute visit to one of the company’s service centers. For Rivian, the issue is also inexpensive to address, though it has already cost the company around $2 billion in terms of share value.
Wall Street still expects Rivian to produce 23,590 vehicles in 2022. This isn’t far off its original 25,000 goal, and the company remains one of few fully electric pickup truck options made in the U.S.