An electric SUV from Rivian has completed the infamously tough Rubicon Trail, marking another step forward for off-road performance in electric vehicles.
According to the Rubicon Trail Foundation, it’s the first production EV to complete the trail, located near Lake Tahoe and widely considered one of the most challenging off-road trails in North America. To pull it off, Rivian’s test and development team used the R1S, which we called “a serious off-roader” in our review last year.
“I’m hugely impressed by the R1S’s clean run,” Chris Bassett, the director of the Rubicon Trail Foundation, said in a news release. “Aside from some homebuilt EV crawlers, this is the first fully-EV vehicle through the trail, and definitely the first production EV. Very impressive on stock tires, too.”
Earlier this year, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe PHEV also tackled the Rubicon Trail for which it was named. However, that was a plug-in hybrid with a gasoline engine to charge when the power ran out, Ken Hower, the president of the Rubicon Trail Foundation, explained in an email Wednesday.
A full EV completed the trail 2 years ago, but that was a homebuilt vehicle — not a production EV like the R1S, Hower said.
Rivian Crosses Rubicon Trail
Embarking on the 12-mile journey at 7:45 a.m. on Monday, August 7, the Rivian team concluded the trip about 3:30 p.m. on August 9.
In this case, the R1S used by Rivian was a Quad-Motor model in stock condition, outfitted with 34-inch Pirelli all-terrain tires. Preparation for the trail included the addition of steel rock sliders, front tow hitch receivers, and a roof rack.
Setting out with a charge of about 80%, the R1S finished the Rubicon Trail with just under 10% battery life remaining, according to Rivian. That’s enough remaining charge to reach a level 2 charger nearby.
Also, the R1S didn’t experience any mechanical failures or require any tire changes. That being said, it still emerged with predictable scars from the tough trail, such as minor bumps and scrapes, the Rivian team said.
During the initial phase of the expedition, the R1S was escorted by two pre-production Quad-Motor R1T electric truck prototypes from Rivian’s test and development fleet. Later, a modified Jeep Wrangler was used in a support role for the remainder of the trail.
“Crossing the Rubicon Trail in a more sustainable way than it has ever been done before makes me hopeful for the future of off-roading,” said Matt Trainham, Rivian’s director of vehicle testing.