Rivian Software Update 2023.42 Prompts Recall Over Deactivated Defroster/Defogger Controls

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued recall number 23V-783 on behalf of Rivian. As per the report attached below, an estimated 1,463 vehicles that updated to software version 2023.42 may have had their defroster and defogger system controls deactivated by it.
Rivian R1T 12 photos
Photo: Rivian / edited
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Irvine, California-based Rivian released the software update in question on November 13 this year. Within two hours of the over-the-air push to R1T pickups and R1S sport utilities, the automaker identified the undesired effect on the vehicles' infotainment system, which governs the defroster/defogger system.

Given the aforementioned, Rivian had to immediately cancel the push. Two days later, it released version 2023.42.02 to the suspect vehicles to correct said concern. Somewhat curiously, the company determined that a safety-related condition exists related to this matter. Come November 19, all suspect vehicles had been remedied. In other words, the recall published by the federal watchdog is a bit pointless, although necessary due to current legislation. The same can be said about the federally mandated owner notifications via first-class mail, which are due no later than January 11, 2024.

Rivian says that it's not aware of any crashes or worse caused by diminished performance or inoperability of the defroster system. Affected vehicles, which are better described as previously affected vehicles, were assembled for the 2022 and 2023 model years at Rivian's production facility in Normal, Illinois.

Production dates range between November 12, 2021 and November 3, 2023 for the R1T pickup truck. As for the R1S three-row sport utility vehicle, make that May 25, 2022 all the way to October 5, 2023.

Rivian failed the 2023\.42 update
Photo: @RivianSoftware via X
With electric vehicles being so dependent on software, this kind of blunder isn't exactly surprising. It's also worth noting that Rivian isn't the only EV manufacturer with a history of iffy software updates. Rather than pointing the finger at Tesla, one has to remember that even legacy automakers have experienced software troubles in recent years.

Detroit-based General Motors and the 2023 Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon come to mind. Owners reported 12-volt battery drain due to a failed software update that left the infotainment system hanging, an issue that wouldn't have happened in the first place if General Motors hadn't given its mid-size trucks over-the-air software update capabilities.

Just under 10 million passenger vehicles were recalled in the United States market alone in 2022 due to software-related concerns. Approximately half of those required the software to be updated via OBD II by a service technician. The capability to remotely correct faulty software will save automakers a helluva lot of money, and the customers are certain to prefer it as well to the detriment of driving to the nearest dealership for both diagnosis and remedy.

The dark side of automobiles that are so reliant on software for vital functions such as the defroster/defogger system? The most straightforward answer is that you're at the mercy of the automakers for the fix. On that note, try to imagine what would happen with all the Teslas out there if Tesla were to go under tomorrow. Horrifying scenario, innit?
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 Download: Rivian software update 2023.42 recall (PDF)

About the author: Mircea Panait
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After a 1:43 scale model of a Ferrari 250 GTO sparked Mircea's interest for cars when he was a kid, an early internship at Top Gear sealed his career path. He's most interested in muscle cars and American trucks, but he takes a passing interest in quirky kei cars as well.
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