Tesla has been working hard to improve its vehicle repair and servicing challenges over the last several months, and the audience noting both the issues and steps needed to solve them includes Rivian, the auto startup working on the all-electric R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV.
“So, we’re spending a huge amount of time solving service,” CEO RJ Scaringe revealed in an interview with The Fast Lane Car at Rivian’s recent event focused on second-life uses for its batteries. “Not just in your big cities, not just in LA or Seattle, but if you buy a car and you let’s say live 50 miles out from the city or live 200 miles away from the city… How do you manage that? So, those are some of the harder sort of challenges we’re thinking through and making sure it’s easy to service the vehicle.”
Tesla’s status as the pack leader in the burgeoning electric vehicle industry means every major challenge experienced becomes a front page story. Upcoming brands like Rivian have the strategic advantage of watching the struggle, noting both the failures and successes, and then incorporating the lessons into their own brand’s plans. Scaringe is, of course, quite aware of this advantage and credits Tesla for providing it.
“I think any great brand…that customers are going to be excited about and that customers are going to want to be part of, it has to fundamentally reset expectations. It has to disprove untruths. Tesla took the untruth that electric cars were boring and slow — that they were glorified golf carts — and they disproved that. They showed people that an electric car can be exciting and fun,” Scaringe acknowledged during a fireside chat at the Automotive News World Congress.
Rivian’s CEO also noted that the all-electric startup is determined to learn from the experiences of companies like Tesla, while integrating concepts from established automakers such as GM and Toyota. “We do recognize the complexity of assembling and putting vehicles together, of managing a very complex supply chain and logistics network, and we’re very [cognizant] of the nuts and bolts, and of the need to follow a proper process to ensure that, when we launch the vehicle, it can be launched with as few problems, errors, and challenges as possible,” he said.
Rivian isn’t the only company that’s taken note of Tesla’s headline-generating leadership in the world of zero-emissions vehicles. CEO and Founder Trevor Milton of Nikola Motors, a new manufacturer producing both battery-electric and hydrogen-electric semi trucks has noted the stress Tesla has experienced from being a revolutionary company disrupting an entire industry. “I sympathize with what Tesla has had to go through,” Milton said during a press conference following Nikola’s unveiling event in April. He plans to keep the company private, focusing on quality and performance before even considering becoming a publicly traded company, if ever.
Tesla recently announced that its Mobile Service and Service Centers are now capable of performing on-site and in-house collision repairs to include minor body work and bolt-on replacements. This addition is part of the company’s larger service improvement efforts to ensure quality work, quick turnaround, and transparent pricing for Tesla owners in contrast to issues experienced via non-Tesla body shops. Other service-oriented efforts made include a commitment to doubling service capacity in 2019, stocking all common parts at Service Centers, live repair status updates, and the roll out of vehicle self-diagnosis for certain issues paired with automatic replacement part ordering.
Rivian aims to do to pickup trucks and off-road-capable SUVs what Tesla did to the performance and premium automotive segments, and so far, it looks like they’re headed in the right direction.
Watch the full set of interviews with Rivian’s team by The Fast Lane Car below: