The beauty of modern car platforms - not just electric - is the ability to getting new features with OTA software updates. While some manufacturers use it for changing interior light colors or introducing new “dings and bongs” for when the door opens, companies like Rivian take full advantage of the feature.
Rivian designed its trucks to be upgradable, the cars are just a platform with hardware capable of so much more - but it takes time to develop the software. If we waited for an electric car with every option and convenience available straight from the factory, the car would probably never leave the development stage.
Recent OTA update from Rivian is a great example of that, it introduces a very helpful feature called Kneel Mode. Simply put - the car drops down to 10 inches (25 cm) off the ground when it's parked. The car lowers its ride height by 1.4 inches or 35mm, making it so much easier to get in and out of the truck. It makes loading and unloading stuff from the back easy as child’s play.
Activating the new mode is easy as well, it’s a question of swiping a toggle in the Vehicle Access menu - and it’s done. From now on every time the R1S or R1T is parked, it will lower itself within 5 seconds unless the door is opened before that time is up - in this case, the process will be paused and will resume once every passenger left the car.
To keep things safe, Rivian is only activating the Kneel Mode in Normal driving mode, it won’t work in the Off-Road mode in case it could cause damage to the underbody. Sport mode deactivates the Kneel Mode as well since the truck is already lowered.
The company added as well new features to the Gear Guard which now can be switched on and off from the Rivian app but it’ll need the newer app version which will be available from the next month.
OTA updates are possibly one of the best advancements in vehicle development and manufacturing. It seems buyers are keeping the cars for longer and it is especially the case with electric cars. Keeping them relevant by introducing new features and updating existing ones keeps the customers happy but it means software development takes a center stage in the automotive business. Something VW clearly missed and something that Tesla, Rivian and Lucid put at the heart of their business model.