A Tiny Design Mistake Makes the Rivian R1T Undrivable at Night in Wet Snow

The Rivian R1T is undrivable at night in wet snow 6 photos
Photo: skookum950s via Rivian Forums
The Rivian R1T is undrivable at night in wet snowRivian R1SRivian R1TThe Rivian R1T is undrivable at night in wet snowThe Rivian R1T is undrivable at night in wet snow
Rivian is one of the most promising startups in the EV market, although the startup is now struggling with supply problems. Nevertheless, Rivian owners in cold climates discover one design issue causing wet snow to accumulate on the headlamps, hindering visibility.
Even though Rivian failed to impress analysts with its financial results, the EV startup has a good reputation in the retail market. Many Rivian owners swear by their trucks and SUVs, and they have good reasons for that. It’s not all butterflies in this relationship, but some glitches are to be expected for the first products of a new carmaker. The latest one is safety-related and might force Rivian to issue a recall if enough R1T and R1S owners complain.

According to a post on the Rivian Forums, the problem appeared as cold weather reached northern territories. User skookum950s complained that wet snow accumulates on his R1T’s headlamps when driving in wet snow. The problem is that the snow affects visibility, and they had to pull over every few miles to clean the headlights. This issue is not unique to Rivian vehicles, but several design and technical choices made the problem worse on the electric pickup truck.

First, Rivian uses LED headlights for its R1 line of vehicles, which are known to release very little heat when they’re on. With less heat comes better efficiency, and that’s why there aren’t electric vehicles that don’t use LED lights all around. The downside is that the heat is insufficient to melt the slush on the headlamps’ lenses. Then why we haven’t heard of such a problem with other electric vehicles before?

Most electric vehicles favor aerodynamics above all, looks included. That’s why most headlamps have a streamlined shape, preventing snowflakes from adhering to the lenses. With Rivian R1T and R1S, the designer opted for a cute face, but the headlights are almost flat and perpendicular to the air stream. This makes snow and ice pile up on their surface, hindering visibility.

Of course, the problem is not that bad when the snow is dry, as it doesn’t adhere to any surface. But slush is another thing, posing serious issues. Other carmakers (although I admit they are a few) use wipers or spray systems to clean the lenses in such conditions, although success is not guaranteed. Aftermarket solutions even imply using headlights with heated lenses, which would be ideal.

We wonder why Rivian didn’t offer such a system on their “adventure” vehicles. According to the topic on Rivian Forums, other users living in the northern areas experienced similar problems and are also looking for a solution. They have also contacted Rivian to complain without hearing back. We also took this route and asked Rivian if it’s aware of the problem, and we’ll update the story when we hear back. Until then, we’d love to read about your experience driving in the snow in the Comments section below.
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About the author: Cristian Agatie
Cristian Agatie profile photo

After his childhood dream of becoming a "tractor operator" didn't pan out, Cristian turned to journalism, first in print and later moving to online media. His top interests are electric vehicles and new energy solutions.
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