Electric vehicles have been taking the automotive industry by storm recently, especially the Rivian truck.
Many RVers like us are even considering whether they could be an ideal vehicle to tow during their adventures. Rivian vehicles are much more powerful and capable than most consumers realize. However, are Rivian trucks flat-towable?
Today, we’re taking a deep dive into these vehicles to learn if a Rivian vehicle could be your next truck. Let’s get started!
What Is a Rivian Truck?
Rivian trucks are one of the first mass-produced all-electric light-duty trucks on the market. Rivian is a direct competitor, with many of the major automakers entering the electric vehicle segment of the auto industry, including Ford, Chevrolet, and Tesla.
While these vehicles may not boast the massive towing capabilities of gasoline or diesel engines, they’re 100% electric and can go 300+ miles on a single charge. The acceleration and handling are out of this world. This truck can do 0 to 60 miles per hour in three seconds. However, the quad-motor system provides instant torque to help conquer rugged terrain.
What Does It Mean for Something to Be Flat-Towable?
Flat towing, also “dinghy towing” or “four-down towing,” is pulling a vehicle while connecting it to the back of a motorhome using a tow bar. This method places all four wheels of the towed vehicle on the road as the motorhome pulls it.
However, not all vehicles are flat-towable. You could cause serious issues, mainly in the transmission, if you attempt to flat tow a vehicle that isn’t capable of the task. Trust us, replacing a transmission is not something you want to do on your vehicle. It would be best to verify whether your vehicle is flat-towable before you hitch it behind your motorhome.
Are Rivian Trucks Flat-Towable?
Before the trucks were released, we reached out to Rivian to ask this question as we considered ordering one of the trucks, and they said the truck would be flat towable. However we later learned that they probably misunderstood our question and we will explain why.
According to the Rivian R1T (and R1S) owner’s guide, Rivian vehicles are not flat-towable. However, there was some initial confusion as Rivian officially communicated that their vehicles were flat-towable in the company’s early days. However, they are, in fact, not. Despite Rivian’s best attempts, the rumor that Rivian trucks are flat-towable is circulating online and throughout the automotive community.
The Rivian is capable of being “Tow Charged”. This means towing the vehicle while it’s on and in gear to charge the battery. This is a good recovery mechanism if the battery runs out on you. This is what we think the representatives originally thought we were asking when we reached out. This however is not intended to work behind an RV.
Pro Tip: Stay safe on the road by using these 10 Ways to Make Towing a Big Rig Less Dangerous.
What Is Preventing Rivian Trucks From Being Flat-Towable?
Rivian trucks, and most other electric vehicles, are not flat-towable because of how their motors work. Unlike vehicles that require gasoline or diesel, electric vehicles do not have transmissions or a gearbox. As a result, you can’t simply put the vehicle in neutral and start towing it down the road. If you do, you’ll do an incredible amount of damage to the vehicle’s complex mechanisms.
Some electric vehicles utilize a transport mode, which acts as a neutral for electric vehicles. However, this is typically not a good solution for long towing situations as it often restricts the vehicle’s speed and deactivates air suspension systems in vehicles equipped with them.
Are There Any Plans to Make Rivian Trucks Flat-Towable?
Being able to flat-tow an electric vehicle, whether from Rivian or another electric vehicle manufacturer, is an appealing selling feature. While Rivian hasn’t made any official statements regarding the future of flat-towing and their vehicles, it’s likely something they’re working on, especially after their initial fumbling with the status of flat-towing and their trucks.
Auto manufacturers will take advantage of every possible way to gain leverage over their competition. Rivian, like every EV manufacturer, wants to be the first to the market with a vehicle with a specific feature. While there are no promises, the future is bright regarding flat-towing Rivian trucks and other electric vehicles.
As an electrical engineer, I have dabbled with this question and do believe the trucks could easily be made flat-towable with software. In fact, a capable tinkerer could probably do it at home, although it would be a very complicated task and require hacking the truck’s hardware.
Basically, the truck would need to be on and in gear to run its cooling pumps. It seems this would not be a problem, and the truck could even give a little push or pull to the RV. In fact, it’s even possible the using a powerful truck like this as a tow vehicle could turn an RV into a hybrid and significantly increase its fuel economy! I fully intend to play with this concept someday when I have more time, but I truly hope that the manufacturer makes this an option well before I get to it.
Can You Tow a Rivian Truck On a Tow Dolly?
Whether you run out of charge or experience another mechanical failure in a Rivian truck, a tow dolly is not a good solution. This is because the truck is 4wd and has drive components both on the front and back wheels. Like flat-towing the vehicle, you can cause severe damage to the vehicle’s motor and various components. Rivian does state in the troubleshooting and help section of the owner’s guide, it serves as an aid for loading the vehicle onto the back of a tow truck and not for towing down the road.
How to Bring Your Rivian Truck On Your RV Trip
Bringing your Rivian truck on your RV trip can create exciting adventures. Aside from driving your Rivian during your RV trip, the only way to safely transport a Rivian is on the back of a flatbed trailer. This is the recommendation directly from Rivian in the R1S and R1T owner’s guides.
Are Rivian Trucks Good for Towing Camper Trailers?
Rivian trucks can do impressive tasks, like driving through three or more feet of water and crawling over rocks at 100% grade. The 14.9 inches of ground clearance means you won’t have to worry nearly as much about obstacles on the road. The Rivian R1T boasts an 11,000-pound towing capacity with a payload limit of 1,760 pounds.
Can a Rivian truck haul a camper? Absolutely. However, the more weight you add to a vehicle, the harder it will work. Like gas and diesel vehicles, weight shortens the vehicle’s range.
If you’re loading your Rivian with passengers, camping gear, and the weight of a trailer, you can likely expect to get at least half of the maximum range of 314 miles. If you’re planning to tow a lightweight pop-up or small travel trailer to a nearby campground, a Rivian truck could be an excellent option.
However, it won’t be easy if you’re planning to hitch a camper to your Rivian for a cross-country road trip. There might not be a convenient charging station, and accessing it with a camper will make it even more challenging.
Dive deeper with us: Will a Rivian Make a Good Camping Vehicle?
Motorhome Drivers Are Still Waiting for the Perfect Flat-Towable EV
While Rivian and other electric vehicles are excellent, they’re not the perfect solution for motorhome drivers yet. Manufacturers will likely continue to advance technologies to the point where flat-towing is possible. When that day comes, you can bet that motorhome drivers will be chomping at the bit to get their hands on one of these vehicles. Until then, motorhome drivers will need to wait patiently.
Would you use a Rivian truck for your adventures? Tell us in the comments!
Pro Tip: Electric trucks are becoming more common, but what about electric RVs? Find out if electric RVs are on the horizon.
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Tuesday 6th of December 2022
As a full time rv'r I would definitely consider one...in the future. Campground utilities would have to be reliable throughout my travel area (which was most of the country this year) before I would take a chance.
Mortons on the Move
Wednesday 7th of December 2022
Good Point, you would need to be able to recharge. If charging networks get good enough it might still work tho.