Over-the-air updates are all the rage these days, with automakers racing to find ways to expand and monetize the ability to give cars new software features without ever visiting a dealership. This is generally a positive thing—subscriptions aside—but sometimes it can go awry. Recently, Chevrolet found that out with its Colorado pickups, and now another pickup builder, Rivian, is having similar troubles.
The young automaker bricked the infotainment system on dozens of vehicles (at the very least) with an OTA update, blaming the issue on a "fat finger" mistake when uploading a new software build. It posted to the Rivian subreddit to explain the issue, where it was met with both the kind of sympathy that only EV owners can offer, as well as understandable frustration. The cars are still allegedly mostly drivable, but many owners are reporting that both the main infotainment screen as well as the instrument cluster are completely or partially dead. In a lot of cases, that seems to mean no speedometer, climate control, range readout—nothing.
In its Reddit post, a Rivian respresentative does not provide a timeline for a possible fix, and states that "Service will be contacting impacted customers and will go through the resolution options. That may require physical repair in some cases." Other owners claim to have been told by customer service "if your speedometer, gear indicator, and backup cameras are working, the vehicle is safe to drive. Otherwise, they will provide a rental."
A few responses are sympathetic. One person said "As someone who once caused an outage of a major AWS service, I totally empathize with this sentiment. It's a bad [certificate]. It's not the end of the world." Others that seem to depend more on their Rivians are pretty upset. "An email instead of a Reddit post would have been nice," one says. Another claims that "I need to drive 300 miles tomorrow. This is going to be a major major problem."
Overall it seems like this is a pretty massive error. How can an automaker backed by Amazon of all companies manage to not test an update properly before it's pushed to the general public? Is there no group of development vehicles they use to evaluate these updates internally? If it truly was a "fat finger" mistake, how is there no process for catching something like that, or how did that process fail? There are just so many questions here.
In any case, the Reddit post has not been updated as of writing, which means a lot of owner's trucks and SUVs are still sitting in their driveways without many vital features. We've reached out to Rivian to see if there's any new information, but we have yet to hear back as of publication.
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