Rivian Says the 12V Center Console Socket Is Gone, Retrofitting One Is Impossible

Rivian R-Series Vehicle Interior 14 photos
Photo: Rivian / Scott Lunt on Rivian Stories / autoevolution edit
Rivian R1T and R1SRivian R1T and R1SRivian R1SRivian R1TRivian R1TRivian R1TRivian R1T and R1S InteriorThe Updated Ocean Coast InteriorThe Updated Ocean Coast InteriorQuad-motor R1SDual-motor R1T2022 Rivian R1T2022 Rivian R1T
Rivian has just confirmed through one of its executives that the removed 12V sockets are not coming back – not even the one for the center console. The measure may feel a bit extreme given that the automaker is positioning itself as adventure-oriented on the market, but it makes sense in the grand scheme of things. Let’s find out why.
By now, most people interested in buying an all-electric Rivian have heard about the R1T and R1S – the two EVs that make America proud of its amazing startup culture. But launching one or two products is very different from successfully scaling manufacturing. The Irvine-based automaker proved its pickup truck and SUV are great buying options for those looking for alternatives to Tesla, Ford, Chevrolet, or GMC units. But is now facing the challenge of delivering what customers ordered.

Last year, Rivian showed everyone that a global health crisis, a complicated geopolitical situation, many supply chain issues, troubling parts shortages, flippers, and rampant inflation can create a couple of issues for a young company that wants to succeed and remain in business for its customers and backers.

Fortunately, the brand had enough cash reserves to burn and managed to weather the storm. But the weathering wasn’t done impeccably. At first, customers were outraged about the sudden price change announced in March. Then, pre-order holders noticed that people who joined in later on the fun and paid more for their R1T or R1S had a chance at getting them faster than those who waited for years.

Rivian R1T and R1S
Photo: Rivian Automotive LLC
The automaker also started removing options, deleting its most accessible equipment package, announcing nationwide recalls, forgetting about Max Pack buyers, and losing touch with the small customer base it had. Even its new plant in Georgia faced a lot of headwinds from some locals. Also, some of its top executives have been lately departing the company, despite the intensifying competition in the all-electric sector.

Do you get what you pay for?

Most recently, the automaker wronged those who paid for an R1S in the Launch Edition spec because the vehicle is now coming without the Meridian sound system, the wood trim in the seat coat hanger areas, two 12V sockets, and the Chilewich floor mats.

But despite all these challenges and a very tough environment for a startup, Rivian survived. Some may even argue that it thrived. That’s solely thanks to its quad-motor vehicles that have proven to have little to no problems, apart from some tech-related mishaps. Both the R1T and R1S are getting rave reviews from customers, which is the most important metric when looking for a new vehicle to buy. A couple of them reached Europe, Africa, and the Middle East already, even though there’s no certainty about compatibility and homologation. It’s easy to fall in love with a good product, that’s for sure!

But Rivian seems to be back to its older habits of not communicating transparently with customers. In September 2022, the first reports regarding the disappearance of the 12V outlet from the front trunk (or frunk, if you prefer) appeared online. Presumably, eliminating the socket began with the R1S, and the newer R1Ts followed in the SUV’s footsteps.

The Updated Ocean Coast Interior
Photo: Rivian on Facebook
While not having a 12V socket in the frunk may not be very upsetting to those who don't need a portable mini-freezer, getting rid of any such port in the cabin is a mistake. Not every accessory is compatible with USB-C because some may require higher wattage loads, and customers may want to use more than just radar detectors. These other accessories can be coolers, freezers, LED light bars for professional use, searchlights, or citizens band radio.

It's not looking good

A pre-order holder named Martin Bogomolni, who stuck with Rivian through thick and thin, asked around about what was happening with the 12V sockets, and after insisting on getting a real answer, the company's Director of Manufacturing, Robert Walus, told him that there's indeed a parts shortage problem most manufacturers must deal with right now.

However, Rivian gave up on this supplier altogether and is now in the process of certifying a new part that will replace the missing 12V sockets. Sadly, this entire process might take a year or so. Meanwhile, the brand can’t stop the Normal plant’s activity to wait for a couple of outlets. So, Rivian decided to keep one 12V socket per vehicle for now.

2022 Rivian R1T
Photo: Bring a trailer
But the worst thing about this change is that the same source confirmed new frunk tub and center dashboard assemblies have been created, which do not have the mounting point for the 12V outlet nor the wiring harnesses, so adding one as a factory retrofit after delivery is hardly possible.

Finally, anyone can understand growing pains. It takes a lot of dedication to remain in business after what the world has been through in the past couple of years. But that is no excuse for Rivian not to properly inform its customers and fans about the changes it makes. The brand needs to address this, and it must find a way to share relevant information with buyers before they are faced with the issue at delivery or after.
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About the author: Florin Amariei
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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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