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The Rivian R2 could drive me straight into the arms of Elon Musk’s Tesla Model Y

Published Feb 28th, 2024 7:04PM EST
Image: Tesla

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Please, RJ Scaringe, don’t let this happen. I’ve been waiting far too long to find out that the first electric vehicle I’m supposed to own isn’t your R2 but instead has been on the market since 2020, and I could have made the jump years ago.

When I first saw the Rivian R1T and R1S, I thought: “One of those is going to be my first electric vehicle.” That is, until I saw the starting price of both. Even after being on the market for a couple of years now, the R1T costs at least $70,000, and the R1S costs at least $75,000 new. Even used models come in well over $50,000. Regardless of how much I want one, those prices just aren’t in my budget.

Then, my hope was renewed when Rivian announced it was working on a lower-priced model called the R2. The idea, which Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe confirmed, was to build the company’s own Model 3, in that it would be much more affordable than the company’s current vehicles. Right now, the best-case scenario is that the R2 could come in at a starting price of $40,000.

The R2 might not be the EV I’ve been waiting for

If that’s true, the R2 will, in fact, be my next car and first electric vehicle — even if I have to wait until 2026, which is when they are expected to start rolling off the production line. However, there’s a chance that the configuration that I want is going to cost well over $40,000 if the company’s current prices have anything to say about it.

Rivian R2 teaser trailer
Rivian teased its R2 electric SUV ahead of its March 7th event. Image source: Rivian

Right now, if you want to have over 300 miles of range on an R1T (which I do), you’ll need to spend an extra $3,100 for the Standard+ battery pack. If you want a blue car (which I do), the Rivian Blue color will cost an extra $2,500. And, if you actually want the vehicle to be built to take it off-road — which would be the whole purpose of buying a Rivian for me — the All-Terrain upgrade will cost you another $3,850.

If the R2 starts at $40,000 but all of these options are also things you need to add on to get, that price will very quickly turn from the base price into over $50,000 — right where a used R1T is that is already out of the price range that I’m willing to spend on any car. I’d hate for it to turn out that way, but it could mean that the R2 might still not be the Rivian I’m waiting for.

So, where does that leave me?

The Tesla Model Y was there all this time

I honestly never even considered a Tesla up to this point. As someone who drove a Subaru and wanted a car I could take into the wilderness and camp with that in mind, the Rivian seemed like the only electric vehicle that made sense to make the jump to. I could buy a Subaru Crosstrek, Forester, or Outback Wilderness, but if I’m honest, I’m really ready to make the jump to electric for both environmental and my own I-love-technology reasons.

However, my brain just can’t justify spending between $50,000 – $60,000 on a car. The most I’ve spent on a car in my entire life so far was $18,000 for my used Crosstrek, so while I can potentially get comfortable with doubling that, tripling it is a whole other deal.

Enter the Tesla Model Y. For a car that doesn’t look like something you’d upgrade from a Subaru to — or choose over a Rivian, for that matter — the Model Y could actually be the right electric vehicle for me to fall back on if the Rivian R2 doesn’t pan out.

The Tesla Model Y could be the EV I end up in after all. Image source: Tesla

The Long Range version of the Model Y has all-wheel drive, over 300 miles of range, and can basically get me to almost any trailhead or campsite I would be planning on going to. Can it rock crawl? Of course not. But, if I’m honest with myself, I don’t need a vehicle that can do that anyway. The vehicle even has Camp Mode, which keeps the climate as you want it while you’re sleeping in the back.

Right now, a new Long Range Model Y (in blue, of course) is as low as $37,570 after the federal EV tax credit, and you can find a used one for around $30,000. I absolutely love the design and mission of Rivian, but do I love it enough to spend $20,000 or $30,000 more on a vehicle? Is brand loyalty worth that much to me? I’m struggling to find a way to say yes to that.

This could all be moot on March 7th

Of course, all of this could be moot if Rivian actually delivers on a $40,000 price point that actually has similar features and range to the Model Y. I would be willing to pay a little more for that, especially if I was really into the design of the vehicle (which I imagine I will be).

We’ll have to see what happens when Rivian officially unveils the R2 at its Laguna Beach event on March 7th. One thing seems to be sure. With Ford delaying an all-electric Maverick until the 2030s and Apple killing off its own electric car project, it’s down to one of two vehicles for me: the Rivian R2 or the Tesla Model Y.

I’d just feel like a total moron if the vehicle I end up getting is the one that’s actually already been on the market for four years.

Joe Wituschek Tech News Contributor

Joe Wituschek is a Tech News Contributor for BGR.

With expertise in tech that spans over 10 years, Joe covers the technology industry's breaking news, opinion pieces and reviews.