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Rivian's Latest Cost-Cutting Measure? The Horn!

Rivian has been on a roll with streamlining production this year. Everything the automaker does revolves around dropping production costs and increasing profit margins. However, what new customers did not expect was for the horn to become a part of that strategy.
Rivian R1S Horn 42 photos
Photo: Rivian / autoevolution edit
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Rivian understood it had a money problem. Although its IPO brought enough cash to burn through for a while, investors demanded the brand stop bleeding dollars through every crevice. Wanting to succeed and not become the next Lordstown, the Irvine-based automaker started a comprehensive diet.

In 2022, the Irvine-based brand confirmed developing and testing the dual-motor R1T and R1S, with the power units being designed and manufactured in-house. It also reduced its workforce (non-plant employees) by 6% and reshuffled the configurator to eliminate the Explore Pack, the cheapest options pack available.

In a letter sent to investors in May, Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe disclosed that in Q1 2023, the company delivered nearly 8,000 vehicles at a total cost of approximately $2 billion. That amounted to roughly $250,000 per unit. In reality, the cost of producing EVs was lower (around $220,000) because the expenditures included the R2-series development, the retooling of the Normal plant, the creation of the 800V architecture, the Enduro motors production, and the costs of building the Georgia factory.

So far in 2023, it fired another 6% of the employees (including some plant workers), gave up on the Meridian sound system for an in-house audio solution, removed 12V sockets from the frunk and the center console, announced it would start charging those using the RAN network (but that hasn't happened yet), changed the R1S' subframe from a welded to a die-cast implementation, removed one of the two 12V batteries, and dropped the driver monitoring camera.

Most recently, the automaker told everyone that Compass Yellow would no longer be available. The 20-inch all-terrain wheels with a bright finish and the vegan leather dashboard joined the striking color in saying goodbye.

Some of these solutions worked better than the others. For example, moving to a dual-motor powertrain helped the company cut vehicle production costs by around 25%. Still, the Bosch-equipped quad-motor R1Ts and R1S SUVs remain more capable for off-road use. As such, Rivian won't give up on its relationship with the supplier. But it will ramp up dual-motor R1-series production.

Avoiding failure by all means necessary

"Prototypes are easy, production is hard," said a well-known executive leading the world's most valuable automaker. He was right. Even though many claimed Rivian would be in trouble because it was making fancy, capable vehicles and selling them at a loss, they didn't consider the sheer size of its cash reserves. When writing, Rivian still has around $10 billion to burn through.

But what nobody expected Rivian to do was to continue its cost-cutting measures by downgrading the horn. R1T and R1S owners alike confirmed on multiple social media platforms that the new part sounds muffled and "anemic." Some said they are already looking for aftermarket solutions.

2022 Rivian R1S
Photo: Rivian
It may seem like a nothingburger to some. But not having a good horn to warn others of dangers on the road or to make them aware that you're close to them can become an issue.

One owner said they were involved in four scenarios where other drivers didn't hear them honking. "[They] were literally driving into the side of my car causing me to force the vehicle out of the lane to avoid collisions and they didn't hear my horn. I've been behind cars that were sitting at stop signs that couldn't hear it," explained a Rivian buyer. The same person argued that the automaker shouldn't have skimped on this part because it can easily become a safety hazard.

Some who noticed their vehicle's horn sounded unexpectedly bland and soft submitted service tickets. Rivian told them there's nothing to fix because that's the new design.

The automaker removed the part that was creating the higher note. That's why new R1T and R1S vehicles sound extra friendly, or you can't hear them on busy roads when their drivers are honking.

Typically, vehicles come with dual horns that differ in sound. Each part sounds a different pitch to create a chord that can cut through ambient noise better than a single electromechanical horn.

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About the author: Florin Amariei
Florin Amariei profile photo

Car shows on TV and his father's Fiat Tempra may have been Florin's early influences, but nowadays he favors different things, like the power of an F-150 Raptor. He'll never be able to ignore the shape of a Ferrari though, especially a yellow one.
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