Rivian Improves R1S Engineering Using Die-Cast Subframe Instead of the Old Welded Part

Rivian improves R1S engineering 6 photos
Photo: @OutofSpecDetail via Twitter | collage
Rivian R1T's welded subframe close-upOld frunk seal designNew frunk seal designOld suspension knuckle designNew suspension knuckle design
Even though they look the same on the outside, Rivian has improved its vehicles, with R1T and R1S getting tweaks and new features. Pictures shared on social media show that at least the R1S has a new die-cast subframe in the front, replacing the old welded part.
Rivian had a rough 2022, but things appear to be going in the right direction this year, with production catching up with demand and good perspectives to grow. The EV startup was forced to lay off employees several times in 2022 and once in 2023 to limit losses. It also made changes to its production line and vehicles to improve efficiency. This helped Rivian increase production, and the EV startup reported that it's on track to deliver 50,000 units in 2023, as planned.

The most significant change was the introduction of the Enduro drive units, which were developed and produced in-house. The new motors are expected to save Rivian a lot of money compared to the third-party-supplied motors. And the EV maker really needs all these cost reductions because the first-quarter financial data show that it's still burning through cash at an alarming rate.

The drive units were not the only modification Rivian made to its vehicles. Pictures shared on Twitter by Coleton Guerin from Out of Spec Detail show that the R1S suspension has also been modified. Specifically, the knuckle connecting to the upper A-arm and cast subframe has a revised design. Compared to the old part, it appears sturdier, and judging by the "made in China" mark, it could also be cheaper, allowing Rivian to boost profitability.

Another important modification is hidden in the background, and it takes a trained eye to spot the difference. Thankfully, Colton provides the necessary information in his post, making it easy to recognize. Look behind the knuckle, and you'll see that the front subframe is not a welded part anymore. Instead, Rivian switched to a die-cast part, which should significantly boost productivity and optimize production.

This is something that teardown titan Sandy Munro complained about when it analyzed the R1T last year. The aluminum welded subframe was complicated to produce, although it provided Rivian with enough flexibility to change the design if needed. Tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding is usually used for aluminum, which is expensive. Munro Live video also hinted that Rivian would probably switch to die-casting as soon as the design is complete to save on production costs. We see now that Rivian did not disappoint and followed the recommendation.

Rivian has improved its vehicles in other areas, although we're talking small details now. One example is the frunk seals, which were previously more carelessly assembled. They frequently got misaligned, allowing the paint to come into contact when closing the frunk. Rivian has changed the seal design in recently-produced trucks, so it's now cleaner and sturdier. It's not much, but small details could make a huge difference for owners.

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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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