The world is shifting toward cleaner energy sources. With that, there has been an influx of Electric Vehicles across the automotive industry.
Rivian is an American Electric car manufacturer founded in 2009 and is one of the key players in the Electric Vehicle market. However, a question every owner asks is that “Can a Rivian be Flat towed”.
Rivian vehicles initially could not be flat towed. However, the company claims that the newer models R1T and R1S can be flat towed behind an RV and even be recharged while they are being towed. But can these processes work simultaneously?
In this article, I will discuss flat towing, how it can be done and whether it is possible and safe to flat tow a Rivian.
What is Flat Towing?
This method of towing a vehicle refers to the process of towing a car when it is flat on all four wheels. This method is also referred to as neutral towing or four-wheel towing, among other names.
Flat towing is usually done using a simple hitch when a vehicle is attached behind an RV. When a vehicle can be flat towed, it removes the need for a trailer, and the only equipment required is the hitch system.
This not only makes the process convenient but cost-effective.
Flat Towing Electric Vehicles
In order for a vehicle to be flat it towed, all four of its tires need to be free from the transmission. In the case of electric vehicles, the tires need to be unlocked by detaching them from the electric motors, so they rotate freely.
For most cars, flat towing is needed when the vehicle has been disabled. This is problematic for electric vehicles as once they run out of battery, there is no way for the owner to disengage the motors from the wheels.
This would mean the tires are locked, and the Electric Vehicle cannot be flat towed. When the car still has charge, flat towing may damage the vehicle as the components are only lubricated when the car is started.
It may be difficult or, in some cases, impossible to flat tow an Electric Vehicle. The primary issue here is to disengage the electric motors from all four tires of the vehicle.
Flat towing, without disengaging the motors from the tires, is the best way to overheat the vehicle and damage the internal components.
Furthermore, flat towing a vehicle will create excessive electrical energy, which may cause further issues when not utilized.
Does this mean a Rivian cannot be Flat towed?
We have discussed how flat towing electric vehicles can be problematic. However, it would be unfair to rule out technological advances in the electric vehicle industry.
The vehicle requires a software design that allows the vehicle to disengage the motors from all four wheels, along with hardware that converts the excess energy back to stored electrical energy in the battery.
This would solve the two primary issues. Firstly disengaging the motors would reduce the risk of overheating and subsequently damaging the internal components.
Secondly, the ability to recharge the vehicles while being flat towed allows the perfect opportunity to recover disabled vehicles with dead batteries.
Rivian R1T and R1S Flat Towing
Typically the Rivian models have the ability to disengage one or more motors from the tires as a power-saving feature. That same feature can be modified and used to make a specific towable mode where all four motors are disengaged.
The issue arises when the battery of the car is completely dead. In that case, the user will not be able to engage the specific tow mode, thus making the vehicle not fit to be flat towed.
Rivian has launched its innovative design in the models R1T and R1S. Both these models can be towed on all fours when need be.
However, this does not mean they are safe to be flat towed. An official response from Rivian explains how flat towing this car for long distances would damage the internal components.
They explain how doing so would be like driving a car with the brakes on.
The feature is only a fail-safe that uses their technology with regenerative braking to recharge the car and make it fit to be driven to the nearest charging port.
The manufacturers have implemented this design to make recovering disabled cars easier and cheaper.
Recovering the RIT and the R1S would not require a trailer or dingy. Instead, it can be flat towed for a short distance to recharge the vehicle. This would make it possible to be driven to the nearest charging port.
Even though this vehicle can be flat towed, it does not mean it is safe or wise to flat tow the vehicle.
The function is there as a backup to cater for emergencies instead of transporting the vehicle over long distances. Rivian puts it this way. The vehicle can be tow charged but not flat towed.
As always, refer to the Rivian Towing Guide just to be sure.
How to flat tow or tow charge a Rivian
To flat tow a Rivian you can use a regular tow bar. However, it may not be safe to tow it behind an RV as the generation of the back current can damage the motors. To tow charge or flat tow a Rivian it is equipped with reliable hooks.
To tow charge it, the Rivian can be set in the drive position and towed for a short distance to be recharged.
Rivian has made drastic innovations over time. They have introduced vehicles with the ability to be tow charged, all-wheel drives, a cargo capacity of eighteen hundred pounds, and a towing capacity of eleven thousand pounds.
Their vehicles include luxury features in fuel-powered cars, such as adjustable air suspensions. Rivian vehicles can provide such vehicles, all while providing the acceleration of a corvette.
Rivian has also announced that their vehicles will have the ability to be flat towed in the near future. Owing to the innovations that Rivian has already made, it is not unreasonable to expect Rivian to perform here.
It is clear that the vehicle can be flat towed, or in the words of the company, “tow charged”. However, doing so for a longer duration can damage the vehicle.
As of now, the feature is only present as an emergency backup and does not allow for the vehicle to be transported over longer distances while being towed.