Rivian R1T becomes the First EV to win Rebelle Rally

Rivian R1T becomes the First EV to win Rebelle Rally | CIO Women Magazine

In a remarkable display of electric vehicle (EV) prowess, the 2023 Rivian R1T, affectionately nicknamed ‘Timmy’ by its team, secured a historic victory at the Rebelle Rally, the longest off-road map-and-compass competition in the United States. This event marked the first time an all-electric vehicle had clinched the top spot. The annual Rebelle Rally, now in its eighth year, witnesses all-women teams navigate a challenging 2,120-kilometer course using only traditional navigation tools like paper maps and compasses.

Behind the wheel of the victorious Rivian R1T was Lilly Macaruso, with Alex Anderson as the navigator, clinching the first position in the 4×4 class. The Rivian R1T, being a ‘bone stock’ vehicle, meaning it was unmodified except for the tires, delivered an exceptional performance. However, Macaruso and Anderson, both Rivian employees, made several interior modifications to enhance the organization during the event. Anderson, a senior mechanical engineer at Rivian, designed custom accessories, including secure storage for a five-gallon water jug, velcro encasing for the A-pillar, and mounts for a shovel and fire extinguisher. These thoughtful enhancements proved pivotal to their victory.

Rivian made its debut in the Rebelle Rally in 2020 and has continued to sponsor a team each year since. This experience has served as a valuable testing ground for fine-tuning their EV technology and features. Feedback from previous participants, including Emme Hall, an automotive journalist and TechCrunch contributor, helped Rivian refine their ‘sand mode’ drive setting. The knowledge gained from the Rebelle Rally has directly influenced Rivian’s product development, with the latest example being the 2023.38.0 software update. This Over-The-Air (OTA) update introduced a gauge view that adapts to different drive modes and provides real-time information on battery and motor temperature, torque, steering angle, pitch, roll, and tire pressure, offering a more comprehensive and tailored driving experience.

EV Charging Challenges in the Rebelle Rally

The Rebelle Rally presents a unique set of challenges for EVs, as it takes competitors far from established charging stations or gas refueling points. To address this issue, the rally has partnered with companies like Pennzoil for traditional gasoline and Renewable Innovations for green hydrogen. But what does green hydrogen have to do with charging an EV?

Renewable Innovations has been supplying DC fast chargers for the Rebelle Rally since 2020, but up until this year, they relied on diesel generators to power these charging points. The ultimate goal was always to shift to hydrogen-powered generators. The founder of Rebelle Rally, Emily Miller, explained that the primary challenge lay in establishing the necessary EV infrastructure. It took several years to identify the right partner, develop the infrastructure, and secure the 800 kilograms of green hydrogen required for the 10-day event.

Now, the Rebelle Rally features four charging points specifically designed for EV teams. These chargers are transported to various locations along the race course, ensuring that electric vehicles can participate without concerns about recharging, further highlighting the rally’s commitment to sustainability and innovation.

The Impact of Rebelle Rally on EV Development

The Rebelle Rally’s evolution reflects its growing influence in the EV industry, with Rivian using the event as a testing ground for its technology and design ideas. Notably, this competition played a role in the development of Rivian’s ‘sand mode’ and, more recently, in enhancing the user experience with the introduction of real-time data through OTA software updates.

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