Sunday, February 5, 2023

Why I'm buying a Rivian

In June 2021 I finally put in a deposit for a Rivian R1S SUV. I have had my eye on them since 2018, and when I returned from Denali, having recently turned 35 I thought, 'now is the time.' My estimated window is this year, in the fall, and I've been watching videos and thinking about getting it, and I wanted to lay out why I want a big electric SUV.

For starters, I've spent a lot of time on glaciers, over six months of my life, between time on four longer expeditions and a number of smaller mountains. While I don't have evidence that I have collected myself to quantify climate change, I can tell you that the glaciers are melting. The streams in them are big, some nights the streams don't freeze completely. Other times the rockfall is far higher than it would be if the rocks were frozen. These places just feel precarious. Like if they were a little colder they would be stable, but they are not that cold.

The evidence from scientists says that carbon dioxide and methane from burning fossil fuels is an enormous contributor to climate change. And as anyone who has stood behind an idling 4runner knows, it's just not that fun to choke on exhaust from an off road capable SUV that on it's best day gets 21 miles per gallon.

On top of this, I've never had a car less than 11 years old. My daily driver just turned 21 years old. My weekend adventure 4runner is 16 years old. Yes I can definitely continue driving these vehicles. I've never had a car loan and the thought of one scares me. I like low insurance costs. However, I've been saving money for years, and as I looked ahead to my 40s I thought, 'am I ever going to buy a new car, after all what am I saving for?' My college plan had been to get a job out of college and quickly buy a Mini Cooper, however my 2010 year of unemployment dissolved that idea, and I've been driving at least 11 year old used cars ever since. So I had a bit of a reflection and decided that you know what, I could in fact afford such an expensive car as long as I kept working. Plus, the Rivian comes with an 8 year powertrain warranty, which puts it into my mid 40s by the time it would be out of warranty. I hope that in that time my financial situation looks even better than it does now.

Finally, given all of the above, I feel an obligation to do more about climate change. I think a lot of people either don't care because it's a slow moving crisis, or are overwhelmed because the scale is so big that they don't take any action. Since I make a good income, I feel like I need to take action. Yes, hopefully battery prices get cut in half and the size and weight of batteries gets cut in half in the next five years, and charging infrastructure becomes as reliable as going to gas stations, but until that happens the market (people like me) needs to step in and encourage research, development, and infrastructure build out by creating demand for those products and services. Me buying this expensive car shows Rivian and other companies that there is demand for these types of vehicles. And when I inevitably charge it on road trips, that shows the charging companies that they need to have reliable chargers. 

I test drove a Mitsubishi i-Miev way back in 2012 or 2013, and then a Tesla Model S in 2015. I've had my eye on an electric vehicle for a long time, but nothing really fit the bill to do the things I wanted until the Rivian came out. I like to take road trips of several hundred miles to four wheel drive trail heads and camp there preferably in the car, not exactly what the average EV was designed for. At some point this year I will be taking delivery. And I want to give as many people test drives in it as possible. I want to let others get behind the wheel and experience electric vehicle driving. From a mechanical point of view EVs are simpler than internal combustion engines. It stands to reason that they should last even longer than the existing vehicles on the road. Perhaps you need to replace the battery pack after 10 years, and then you can get another 10 years out of the vehicle. I don't know. It's going to be an adventure!

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