Rivian Explains Vehicle Servicing Program

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Over the last few months, the automotive industry has been feeding the media a steady stream of materials about how great electric vehicles are. Your author even spent an hour last week on a press call where a famous German automaker attempted to educate us on how to use the cost of ownership over 10 years to help readers rationalize buying them over something requiring gasoline. While that should stay something about how the industry sees our relationship, it also seems to indicate it’s preparing an EV offensive in North America or has next to nothing up its sleeve for the remainder of 2020.

Of course, these are the legacy manufacturers we’re discussing, EV startups walk a slightly different path. Awash with more investment funding that seems reasonable, they’re in the midst of setting up factories so they can begin production of largely hypothetical products. There are also logistical questions that need handling, including figuring out who will be fixing EVs when nobody seems interesting selling them using the dealership model.

Over the weekend, Rivian explained how it planned on handling repairs. Though, if you thought it would be more complicated than copying a page from the Tesla playbook, you’re going to be disappointed.

With roughly half a year separating the company from its big production launch of all-electric pickups and SUVs, Rivian has failed to address how vehicle servicing would work. Over-the-air updates are supposed to handle the occasional bugged line of code but won’t be able to do much for smashed-in bodywork or mechanical components that need to be recalled. As such, the company has decided to create the Certified Rivian Repair Network.

The group will be comprised of physical service centers and certified professionals doing house calls. Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe recently informed Automotive News that the plan is to have the repair network up and running before most customers take delivery of the firm’s upcoming EVs — including the 100,000 vans it has promised to Amazon. While physical locations will be initially be limited to major markets, a fleet of mobile service units is supposed to pick up the slack.

“We’re launching a large number of service centers throughout the U.S., really in the next nine months, 41 service centers. In addition to those service centers, we’re building a very robust network of mobile service [providers] that will come to you, your business or your home,” Scaringe elaborated.

“What we deeply believe is that a significant majority of service operations necessary on a vehicle can be done remotely, can be done with our mobile service network, which from a customer’s point of view simplifies things dramatically. They no longer have to think about dropping their vehicles off. Service just happens when customers are at their house or at their office.”

This part of the brand’s “digital commerce platform” which foreshadows a subscription plan where vehicles are basically rented for a period of years, rather than purchased by an owner. The only reason Rivian hasn’t done this already is that insurance and financing haven’t been sorted out. But Scaringe said the company was working on things to have an all-encompassing “purchasing program” ready for consumers before 2022.

Servicing has to take priority, however. Last week, the company issued an online questionnaire for shops hoping to join the Certified Rivian Repair Network so it can start the evaluation process. Only those certified will be eligible to purchase Rivian replacement parts. If you’re the owner of an independent collision repair shop with a little experience working on EVs, you’re welcome to fill it out here to see if you qualify.

[Image: Rivian]

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