Luxury electric vehicles from newer auto manufacturers like Lucid, Rivian, and even Tesla are often written off by insurance companies after what seem to be relatively minor accidents. In many cases, this happens not because they aren’t repairable, but because insurers would rather write it off than deal with the hassle. Local repair shops often don’t have the tools to diagnose issues related to the battery and drive train, and service centers could be hundreds of miles away. 

To demonstrate this issue, YouTube channel Rich Rebuilds points us to this Rivian R1T that at first glance seems to have minimal exterior damage to the vehicle’s front end and skid plate. The wreck was not even serious enough to deploy airbags, yet it was totaled by the insurance company. The insurer was worried that a handful of studs in the skid plate might have punctured the battery pack. So it was declared a total loss and left in a bricked state before anyone even had an opportunity to make repairs. 

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So Rich introduces us to Chris from MLM Diagnostics. They specialize in diagnosing issues with cars such as these following a collision. MLM has purchased a wide variety of OEM diagnostic tools straight from manufacturers and dealerships. They determine how a vehicle failed, what the best solution is for repair, and ensure that proper procedures are followed when replacing equipment and setting it up to OEM specifications. 

Regarding the fear of a “punctured battery”, Chris and Rich explained that there was absolutely no chance this happened. The studs in question are located in an area where the battery modules were not installed. Even if there were modules in this location, the modules themselves are raised above the floor and would not have been punctured. So the skid plate and studs would have been an incredibly easy fix if someone took the time to investigate it further.

”This Rivian was totaled for nothing.” Explains Rich. “The insurance company paid out over $80,000 for 99 cents worth of replaceable studs. They avoid these cars like the plague.” The pair determined that outside of a few scratches to the exterior, there is no damage to the battery pack whatsoever.

After looking into the vehicle’s diagnostic reports, Chris found that the truck was reported as running fine immediately following the accident. Given this, it was surprising that the car arrived at MLM in a bricked state. 

So what was causing the vehicle to not start up? It turns out that the connector on the low-voltage battery management control module was unplugged. At some point between the accident and the arrival at MLM’s shop, someone had intentionally unplugged this connector. Their assumption is that this was done by a Rivian Collision Center for safety when it was brought in. After being declared totaled, it was never re-connected. 

It’s frustrating to see vehicles such as these written off despite being completely repairable. Chris says that once a vehicle is declared totaled, very few buyers are interested in taking on the risks. It doesn’t help that most auto insurers are unwilling to cover a totaled vehicle even after being fully repaired, making it difficult to drive the car legally since most states require a minimum level of auto insurance. Thankfully in the case of this Rivian, it has been repaired and is available for sale

Hopefully, this kind of situation will become less frequent as vehicles like the R1T become more of a known quantity for insurance companies. Has this happened to one of your electric vehicles following an accident? Let us know in the comments below.

Gallery: 2022 Rivian R1T

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