Electric vehicle startup Rivian has once again stirred the pot with its customers. After battling ongoing supply chain constraints, order delays and price hikes on its R1T pickup and R1S SUV earlier this year, the automaker has now dropped the base Explore package for both vehicles – including for existing pre-orders. That leaves just the main adventure pack, which increases Rivian’s cost of admission by thousands.

Connected: Rivian raises prices in response to inflation madness

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

Possible Culprits: Demand, Supply Chain Issues

On its website, Rivian cites low demand for the Explore, stating that the Adventure model is the most popular choice. The startup also says that offering just one package per vehicle will reduce supply chain bottlenecks and get more vehicles into customers’ hands faster. According to a report from Automotive News, Rivian’s production is falling behind schedule: The automaker produced 6,954 vehicles in the first half of the year, well short of its annual target of 25,000.

β€œThe Explore Package was created 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 choosing the Adventure. By focusing on the Adventure trim package, we are able to streamline our supply chain and ultimately deliver vehicles faster,” explains a note on the company’s website.

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

Reservation holders must make a choice

Current holders of reservations for the Explore model can upgrade to the Adventure Package or cancel their order altogether. All deposits will be refunded by September 16, and any customers who cancel their order and later decide to return it will be able to do so on the same date. Meanwhile, buyers making a new reservation will pay a $1,000 deposit, with deliveries expected to begin in late 2023.

Federal Tax Credit at Risk

Rivian’s new introductory prices could put some customers at risk of losing their federal EV tax credit eligibility. Under current guidelines, the R1T and R1S are eligible for a $7,500 tax credit, but the upcoming EV tax overhaul caps the maximum price for 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 buyers priced out of a battery-powered pickup truck or SUV: The automaker has revealed plans to introduce more affordable R1T and R1S models by in 2024. The pair will likely get a lower-range battery (currently, the R1T gets an EPA-estimated 314 miles, and the R1S gets 316 miles), and dual motors will replace the current quad-motor setup.

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