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Innovation is a good thing. Our desire to build bigger and better things has led to many wonderful advances in everything from car racing to medicine. We love new stuff. However, we may be coming to a place where our innovations might hurt us. This isn’t an A.I. threat; it’s just a good old-fashioned example of over-engineering. In the pursuit of endless innovation, our cars have gotten exponentially more complicated and advanced in a very short period. For example, a Rivian R1T fender bender in a parking lot got its owner a $40,000 repair bill. This kind of story reveals a major problem with new cars. 

Is the Rivian R1T expensive to repair? 

Three Rivian R1T models driving along a curved road by a cliff. The 2024 Rivian R1T is becoming a contender.
Rivian R1T | Rivian

We covered a story about a Rivian R1T owner who racked up quite the repair bill after getting rear-ended in a parking lot earlier this year. The damage was minimal by the looks of it; two hand-sized dents marred the rear driver-side corner of the bed. If this dent was on any old normal truck, I doubt I would even think to repair it. Being that it was on a new Rivian, the owner took the truck to a certified Rivian repair shop, where he was quoted $42,000 for the repair. 

More stories are surfacing of similar rear-endings where the Rivian is on the receiving end, and the owner is left with a bill for tens of thousands of dollars. Some of the accounts state that the insurance provider wanted to total the trucks over the dent repair. What gives? Why are Rivians so expensive to repair

Rivian repairs are insane

Matt Boyette, YouTube man and paintless dent repair (PDR) shop owner in the Jacksonville, Georgia area, said a Rivian owner in North Carolina reached out when a fender bender busted the R1T’s driver’s side taillight. Boyette says “the only certified [Rivian repair] shop” near the owner “quoted around $40,000” to replace the bedside piece, which runs up and over the doors to the base of the A-pillars. The repair was so expensive that the owner’s insurance wanted to total out the truck. Because the owner wasn’t a fool, he found Boyette’s company, All Out PDR. Boyette said he put in hours of research and study before agreeing to take on the job. 

The video explains how a traditional shop might have come up with the $40,000 repair bill: because Rivian builds its trucks, many chunks of bodywork had to be removed to access the damaged area. Boyette doesn’t say how much he billed the Rivian for the job, but we can assume it was far less than $40k on account of he did the entire job in only three days. 

Again, getting rear-ended in a Rivian seems to be one of the worst things that can happen to a Rivian owner. There are multiple stories floating around the internet of similarly insane repair bills for things like dents and busted tail lights on the rear end of the Rivian. 

Are electric cars more expensive to repair? 

A gray 2023 Tesla Model Y small electric SUV is parked near water.
The 2023 Tesla Model Y | Tesla

It is important for us to keep in mind that tales of new, expensive things blowing up in the faces of those who bought them is the lifeblood of the internet. This fact is easy to lose sight of. While the Rivian certainly seems to have an extremely exposed Achilles heel, not every electric car repair costs $40,000, but, in general, they are more expensive than regular cars to repair

The New York Times interviewed the R1T owner and then looked into the repair figures for the EV industry, writing, “Data from Mitchell [an insurance and repair shop software company] shows that in 2022 electric vehicles cost about $6,800 on average to fix after accidents, about $2,400 more than the average for all cars.” 

The difference can be explained by the EV market generally being newer and more luxurious than our tried and true gas cars. Because of the newness of EVs, there is potentially a better chance of them needing “work by specialist mechanics.” 

EVs are more expensive than regular car repairs; maybe not always $40k more expensive, but $2,400 isn’t the smallest number either. What this reveals is that our cars getting more complicated might mean more comfort, but it may not mean better. If your car costs more to maintain and repair, some might argue it’s simply not designed as well as cheaper, simpler cars. As with most things, it comes down to a matter of perspective. What do you think about the state of the automotive industry in 2023? Does it feel like we are on the right track?