R1 Refresh Features Coming to Existing Rivian Vehicles in Future Software Updates

Rivian's fresh 3D cel-shading graphics 8 photos
Photo: @itskyleconner via X
The new user interface in the 2024.19 software updateThe new user interface in the 2024.19 software updateThe new user interface in the 2024.19 software updateThe new user interface in the 2024.19 software updateThe new user interface in the 2024.19 software updateThe new user interface in the 2024.19 software updateThe new user interface in the 2024.19 software update
Earlier this month, Rivian finally unveiled the revamped R1 models everyone was waiting for. Despite subtle design changes, the R1S and R1T have been significantly improved under the skin. Rivian promised that some of the new features launched on the refreshed vehicles would also be offered to existing owners in future software updates. Here's everything that has been confirmed.
Rivian was considered by many as Tesla's next of kin, thanks to its similar first principles approach to car manufacturing. To be fair, Rivian had a great example in Tesla and followed its success recipe almost to the letter. However, it wasn't afraid to stray off the path when it fitted its purpose. It even made its own mistakes when it started building a new factory before optimizing production at its existing facility.

Despite these teething problems, Rivian has been praised for its impressive engineering and technologies, which turned the R1T and R1S into strong contenders in the EV market. Not only that, but the build quality is considered a notch above what Tesla and other US carmakers offer despite being a young company. However, this didn't help it become profitable, and Rivian struggled more than Tesla.

It wasn't only because the market conditions are tougher now but also because Rivian vehicles, although well-built, were far from being optimized for cost efficiency. This is a problem every startup faces, especially if it uses off-the-shelf parts to build its vehicles. Suppliers are unforgiving, asking a lot more money for parts because of the low production figures typical for a startup.

However, as Rivian ramped up production, it designed its own parts to cut costs. It also got more favorable rates from suppliers after renegotiating contracts based on the current production figures. This prompted Rivian to re-engineer its current vehicle lineup for cost-efficiency while addressing some flaws. The refreshed R1 EVs may look largely unchanged on the outside, but they have been radically improved on the inside. Rivian changed almost everything, starting with the motors, suspension, batteries, electronics, and software.

The new user interface in the 2024\.19 software update
Photo: @itskyleconner via X
This made existing owners jealous, some taking delivery of their vehicles weeks before the official announcement. Thankfully, Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe promised that, whenever possible, the features launched with the refreshed models would be back-ported to existing vehicles. Obviously, Rivian would not install new motors, battery packs, or a new electrical architecture. However, many software features will come to Gen-1 vehicles, as Rivian's chief of software, Wassym Bensaid, confirmed recently in an AMA session on Reddit.

Believe it or not, the features coming to existing R1 vehicles are not limited to software. Rivian promised to replace the wireless charger for Gen-1 vehicles that came with a non-functional one. Some owners confirmed on social media that they received the new wireless charger from the refreshed model. However, other hardware components, including the new high-resolution cameras, will not be offered for retrofitting.

This limits the range of driver assistance features available to older vehicles. While the Gen-2 R1 EVs will get the new automated driving functions thanks to the new Autonomy platform, older vehicles don't have the necessary hardware to support them and are stuck with the current Driver+ system. Therefore, don't expect Lane Change on Demand on your Gen-1 Rivian because it won't happen. However, other features will be implemented for older vehicles, and existing owners have all the reasons to be excited.

The 2024.19 software update is already in internal testing and is expected to arrive to owners by the end of June. The update brings the new visual interface featuring 3D cel-shading graphics that launched on the Gen-2 R1 models. This software update will also include massive improvements to the suspension system, making older R1 vehicles, especially the R1S, more comfortable. This should close the gap between refreshed models and the Gen-1 EVs.

The new user interface in the 2024\.19 software update
Photo: Rivian
Although cameras on pre-refresh models are low-resolution, Rivian also promised to offer live camera views for blind spot monitoring when you signal a turn. This enhances safety when turning and changing lanes, and owners appreciated the idea when it was introduced on the refreshed R1. However, Bensaid said that Gen-1 vehicles would not get more advanced Phone as a Key features, including on the Apple Watch. Although Rivian could theoretically offer vehicle access on the Apple Watch via Bluetooth, Bensaid said the experience would be subpar.

One of the most surprising features coming to older vehicles is the tri-zone climate control. This is expected to arrive later this year, allowing rear passengers to control the temperature and fan speed independently from the front-row controls. Until then, Rivian will improve the climate controls thanks to a redesigned HVAC app in 2024.19 software.

Another R1 refresh feature confirmed to arrive on existing vehicles is Launch Mode, although only on Quad-Motor models. However, performance would not match the Gen-2 Quad Motor or even Gen-2 Tri-Motor models. Rivian will also update the infotainment system with Dolby Atmos support for all existing vehicles, whereas only those with Premium Audio will receive this on the Gen-2 models. Finally, cabin RGB lighting control is a given, although with less granular control than on Gen-2 EVs.
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About the author: Cristian Agatie
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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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