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Rivian’s Dream Turns Nightmare: Customer’s $86,000 Electric SUV Gets Stuck In Snow

Rivian R1S owner faces disappointment as vehicle fails to perform and triggers safety feature, leaving it stranded.

Chase Merrill waited three years to take delivery of his dream car, a Rivian Automotive Inc (NYSE: RIVN) R1S. Unfortunately for him, the excitement that had mounted for years came crashing down in a matter of days. 

Green Rivian R1s truck parked in Lafayette, California, June 2023. Chase Merrill took delivery of the Rivian R1S, but later died after he took delivery of the vehicle. (Photo by SMITH COLLECTION/GADO/GETTY IMAGES) 

According to a Business Insider report, when Merrill first got behind the wheel of his new Rivian electric SUV, he was ecstatic.

He was blown away by the handling and experienced a “honeymoon phase” with the vehicle right away. It wasn’t like anything he had ever driven before, he said. 

Two days after taking delivery of the R1S, which he purchased for over $86,000, he decided to test its capabilities. Rivian’s are advertised as being built for adventure-seekers who want to “explore all types of terrain through all kinds of weather.”

“Drive through 3+ feet of water. Rock crawl a 100% grade. Traverse just about any terrain with 14.9 inches of ground clearance,” the Rivian website states.

Merrill’s first capability test didn’t go as planned. When he drove it down a snow-covered road that had not been plowed, he hit the point of no return when a large snowdrift stopped the vehicle in its tracks. 

“I hit about two-and-a-half feet of snow, and it just stopped right there. I had seen all the Rivian marketing campaigns with the cars just eating through the snow, so it was kind of like, man this is disappointing,” said Merrill. 

The problems didn’t stop there. The vehicle didn’t just fail to perform, it was rendered useless when Merrill triggered a safety feature while trying to pull it out of the snow that caused the R1S to get stuck between its park and drive gears.

The vehicle was dead in the snow, and Merrill ended up having to pay more than $2,000 to get it towed to a Rivian service center hundreds of miles away. 

A Rivian executive reportedly told Insider that the vehicle is programmed to trigger this response when it senses that it’s sliding, however, the vehicle wasn’t sliding. He noted that the company planned to use the customer’s feedback for product improvements. 

Rivian ultimately offered to pay for the repair work and even offered to cover the tow fee after Insider called the company for comment on the incident.

However, the disappointment for Merrill continued to pile on. When his vehicle was finally returned to him, there was a critical error message on the dash that said the vehicle needed to be serviced again. 

“The attitude the whole time from customer service was that a Rivian owner should be able to handle this no problem. They just think this should be nothing for me, and it’s not nothing,” said Merrill.

The R1S owner is now considering switching to a different vehicle. Merrill noted that he doesn’t believe he has the patience or the money required to be one of the first adopters of Rivian vehicles, given the issues he experienced. He’s still a fan of the product though and wants to see the company do well, he said.

Produced in association with Benzinga

Edited by and

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