Rivian Recalls Nearly All of Its Vehicles Due to Loose Fasteners

Rivian Automotive Inc. RIVN -7.64%▼ is recalling nearly all of its vehicles to address a potential problem that could cause customers to lose steering control, the company said Friday.

The electric truck and SUV maker said the recall was made after it discovered a fastener connecting the upper control arm and steering knuckle may have been improperly installed. In rare cases, the problem could lead to a loss of steering control, the company said.

The recall campaign covers about 13,000 vehicles built in the 2021 and 2022 calendar years, and there are no known injuries related to this defect, a company spokeswoman said.

Rivian currently sells three all-electric models: a pickup truck, an SUV and a commercial delivery van.

The safety recall comes at a critical time for Rivian, which is accelerating production at its plant in Normal, Ill. in a push to hit its full-year production target of 25,000 vehicles.

Chief Executive RJ Scaringe is under pressure to prove to Wall Street that it can transition from a fledgling startup to a volume manufacturer of trucks and SUVs. Rivian went public last year in a blockbuster initial offering that briefly pushed its valuation to over $100 billion—larger than that of many well-established car companies.
But this year has proved more difficult with Rivian struggling to master the complexities of car manufacturing. It has slowly been increasing monthly production, although supply-chain snarls, particularly on semiconductors, continued to hamper its ramp-up and push costs higher.

Rivian produced a little more than 14,000 vehicles in the first three quarters of this year. The challenges have weighed on the auto manufacturer’s stock price, which is down nearly 67% this year. Rivian’s market valuation was $33.7 billion as of the close of trading Friday.

The Irvine, Calif., company was the largest among a handful of EV startups to draw the attention of Wall Street over the past few years, as investors sought to capitalize on the growth prospects of EVs. But their valuations have fallen sharply as the young companies have endured supply-chain constraints and manufacturing setbacks.
Recalls are common in the car industry, especially in new vehicles, and this type of defect is one that many manufacturers have encountered in the past. Still, because Rivian only sells a handful of models and its delivery volumes are still relatively small, its impact on operations is amplified.

Rivian said it sent an email about the recall to all affected customers.
“The safety of our customers will always be our top priority, and we are committed to fixing this issue on any affected vehicles as quickly as possible,” the company said.

In a letter to customers, Rivian’s chief executive urged customers to stop driving their vehicles if they experience issues with steering or suspension problems. “It’s important not to minimize the potential risks involved and why we are volunteering to conduct this recall,” Mr. Scaringe wrote.

This is the company’s third recall since it began vehicle production late last year. In May, Rivian recalled around 500 vehicles after discovering an issue that could cause passenger air bags to fail. In August, the company recalled over 200 vehicles after discovering problems with the installation of seat belt anchors in some vehicles.

Rivian said it expects the financial impact of the recall to be negligible and hopes to perform checks on all its vehicles within 30 days.

Normally, these repairs would be performed by a car maker’s dealer network, but Rivian has opted not to use an independent dealer network to sell or service its vehicles. Rivian said customers can bring their vehicles to service centers or the company will send mobile repair vans to customers.

Other auto makers in recent months have also had troubles with parts that were installed incorrectly. Toyota Motor Corp. in June recalled nearly all of its new battery-powered SUV, the bZ4X, after discovering improperly installed bolts could cause the wheel to detach.

Toyota restarted production of the vehicle Thursday.