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Rivian is disrupting the space for buying trucks with its community hub to view the vehicles and chill. Recently, I visited the Venice hub to experience the R1T trucks. I found exuberant optimistic experience specialists who showed me some of the neat features of the R1T.
What is the Rivian Venice Hub Like?
The Rivian Venice hub has two brick buildings. One building is a community space with tables and chairs. It is used for craft classes, organic gardening classes or story-time.
The other building is chill and office space with a Zoom-free zone. Surrounding the buildings are garden areas filled with tables.
At the Rivian hub, parked between the two buildings, are two Rivian R1T trucks. Each is outfitted with different features to see in person and experience.
An experience specialist, whom I will call Melissa, greeted me. Melissa supplied facts about the R1T trucks in a friendly exuberant manner and answered most of my questions. First, she informed me that the soonest I could get a Rivian truck would be 2023.
I looked at the super off-road edition. The first thing I noticed was the size of the tires.
When I wanted to look under the hood – there was a frunk and no engine to see. Rivian trucks have four separate motors on each wheel. The two wishbone suspensions are adjustable, says Melissa.
The Rivian R1T that I first saw was pretty high up. Specs show the tallest clearance of 14.9 (37.846 cm) inches with a couple of inches above that to step into the vehicle making the first step 16.9 inches (42.926 cm) tall.
For the petite me at 5’2″ (157.48 cm) to get into the high-end truck with the large tires, I had to grab a handle and hoist myself up like doing lift ups at the gym.
Melissa, who was 5’5” (165 cm) had no problem getting in. The other Rivian model, set at a lower height – was easier to enter. To get out, I had to slide my butt down the side of the seat to disembark.
All the information about the hub states that children are welcome. I assumed that dogs are welcome, too.
I brought along my car-loving Yorkie-poo. My Yorkie-poo could not jump up into either Rivian truck.
For a dog to get into an R1T, it would need to be at least a mid-sized dog in the beagle range of dogs. Entry or exit in an R1T without a running board could be difficult for the elderly, people with disabilities, small children and little dogs.
Melissa says: “The two questions people want to know about Rivian trucks are: How far you can go on a charge? About 300 miles. And how fast you can go to 0 to 60 mph? 3.2 seconds.”
Anyone with an internet connection can find that out. Let’s explore lesser-known features.
These seats are vegan leather. They look remarkably like leather but have a bit of a temperature holding feature. The seats felt cool on a foggy day.
What are the Cool Features of Rivian Trucks?
The feature that grabbed my attention and helped me chill out in this higher trim Adventure R1T is that the front seats have holes in them. Hot or cool air blows through the holes. The seats blew cold air that felt cool. Heated and cooled seats are good in electric vehicles because the heater and air conditioning take up a lot of electric power. Having heated and cooled seats reduce the need for air conditioning or heating.
Crowds formed around both trucks with people who wanted to see them in person. There were several experience specialists available.
I met a retired couple from Colorado, formerly from Los Angeles. They came to Los Angeles to visit their dermatologist and Rivian hub. The couple and their ginger terrier-mix dog, Coda, are waiting for a Launch Edition R1T, expected to be delivered next spring.
“We saw the Rivian truck at the LA Auto show in 2018. That is when we decided to buy it,” they told me.
I could see that they liked the truck for a couple of reasons. There is a gear tunnel between the seats and trunk bed. The tunnel opens up to form a step or seat. The step makes it easier to put stuff on the roof racks. The racks on top of the vehicle can hold a bicycle, surfboard or kayak.
The couple visited the hub to check on the colour they had ordered. Coda sat on the tunnel seat while the couple looked at a colour swatch in the sun.
Car colours online do not look like they do in person. Melissa showed me a display in the craft room that shows the inspirations for the different car colours. Each area has a board with the exact car colour on it.
Another neat feature of the R1T is that the back seats lift forward for storage. Melissa showed me and commented that it could fit notebook computers. I asked, “Will Rivian offer dog carriers or features in the future?” Melissa replied that Rivian is always working on new accessories.
She also showed me from touchscreen how to set the different drive modes. In the eco-drive mode, you can choose the different levels of regenerative braking. Melissa said that it does take some time to get used to the different levels of regenerate breaking.
The driver’s seat and steering wheel are adjustable electrically. I was able to adjust the seat so that I could drive. A tap on the fender opens up the charging port.
The panoramic roof is glass allows for a lot of light to come into the vehicle. R1T can tow up to 11,000 pounds.
Cameras around the truck show what is on the road to make driving easier. Additional off-road packages include a stronger reinforced underbody shield with front tow bars and tow equipment.
For security the cameras record people who look at the truck too long. The truck beds have tonneau covers that can be locked. The Explore package has a foldable tonneau cover that can be folded and placed in the storage tunnel. The Adventure package has an integrated power tonneau cover. It felt strong like metal.
What are the Perplexing Rivian R1T Features?
There were a few Rivian R1T features that could be perplexing.
All the infotainment, HVAC, vent controls and driving mode settings are in touchscreen menus. It requires drivers to look off the road, something Tesla owners claim is not a problem.
The R1T does not have a glove box. There is more legroom without a glove box, notes Melissa. The centre console will fit smartphones. There is a wireless phone charger built in but will not stow an average-sized purse.
The truck beds are just over four feet wide (130 cm) and 54 inches (137 cm) long. Therefore, construction grade plywood can fit into the bed only with the bed open and strapped, says Melissa.
What are the Unclear Future Features of Rivian R1T Trucks?
It was not clear the kind of paint on the vehicles. I asked, “Does the paint have a clear coat?” Melissa did not know. There are paint upgrades online that can add $1500- $2500 to the price. The website does not state what kind of paint.
The other point that needs clarification is membership. According to the Rivian website, Rivian buyers get free membership. The membership includes 4G LTE connectivity, Wi-Fi hotspots, roadside/off-road towing and free charging at Rivian Adventure Network and Waypoint chargers matched with renewable energy.
“What’s going on with the membership?” I asked. “We’re working on that. We’re building chargers. There will be more information later,” says Melissa.
I emailed customer support. I asked, “How long does free Rivian membership last?” Tyler replied in an email, “I can confirm that the membership trial is complimentary for the first twelve months of ownership, and this will begin at the date of vehicle delivery.”
Future membership perks may be more drive modes, entertainment features, community meetups and trips. The website does not state how long membership remains free.
I emailed customer support again. Tanna replied, “In the future, access to certain benefits may require a fee.”
Fun Rivian Hub Features
Rivian experience specialists are proud that author Ray Bradbury once lived and worked in one building. An artist turned one of Bradbury’s books into wallpaper in the restroom.
There is a retail area where visitors can buy Rivian paraphernalia such as t-shirts, water bottles, mugs and other swag. There is a coffee cart to buy coffee too.
Is There Buying Pressure at the Rivian Hub?
During my visit, there was no pressure to buy a Rivian R1T.
All the Rivian experience specialists carry a tablet with them. If requested, they will tap someone through the different features of a Rivian R1T reservation to make it easier. Then afterwards, they provide a QR code to look at the specifications later or make a deposit.
I had some problems with the QR barcode scanning app on my phone. Melissa offered to connect to the free Wi-Fi for me and scan the.
The feature that was hard to give up in my pretend buying visit is the air-conditioned and heated seats. The total price would be before taxes $73,000 and a payment of $1,061 a month according to the reservation form on the tablet. Melissa said that there would be no delivery fee.
When I got home, I clicked the QR code link. I looked at the payment estimate. It included an initial $1,000 deposit and $10,000 deposit or trade-in, 3.3% interest rate, $1,075 destination fee and estimated sales tax.
The hub experience should help in making a Rivian buying decision easy. Unfortunately, only customers who pay $1,000 deposit can go on Rivian First Mile events, drive vehicles and test Driver+ automatic steering in off-road conditions.