Photos of Rivian R1 refresh leak, including new aero wheels and chrome delete

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Rivian is about to refresh its R1 line for the 2025 model year, and we’re starting to see a lot of leaked photos showing pretty much all of the exterior changes.

We heard most of the details of the R1 refresh last week from Rivian’s EPA filing, which detailed that the model would get a new cheaper LFP battery on the base model, which should help Rivian get costs down as it seeks positive margins.

But LFP also means lower energy density, which means Rivian needs to find some efficiency improvements elsewhere. Two of those planned improvements are a heat pump, which makes cabin heating more efficient in cold weather, and aerodynamic wheels, which drastically improves vehicle aerodynamics and range.

Now we’re seeing photos of the aero wheels, along with photos of a slightly modified exterior, including possible chrome delete and new headlights.

Several Rivian vehicles have been spotted around Seattle this week, along with the Rivian Space being closed and Rivian being seen filming in the area.

The vehicles feature a similar look to last year’s model, but the one spotted in Seattle has a “chrome delete” which gets rid of the chrome trim around the rear window. This has been a relatively popular modification, with lots of third party installers offering a service to do so.

The vehicles at the factory didn’t have the same chrome delete – so perhaps it’s an optional feature. We also saw a lack of chrome on the upcoming R2, so this unifies the design language between the two (and makes it even more impossible to distinguish from the two models at a distance).

Also visible in the photos above is the new front headlight, which has a “stepped” design instead of looking flat like the older one did. These are new LED headlights, though we haven’t gotten a chance to see them in action yet. This Rivianforums thread has more up-close photos of the headlights

Lastly, and most exciting to me, are the aerodynamic wheel covers. Aerodynamic wheels can add efficiency gains of 5-10%, especially at high speed, though it depends highly on the wheel and vehicle involved.

Basically, the less air you disturb going around the car, the more aerodynamic it is – and spoked wheels act like four little turbines at each corner of the car, pushing air around and making turbulent air that ruins efficiency. The less you do this, the more efficient your car is.

On an electric car this is particularly important, because people seem to have decided that larger range numbers are automatically better, regardless of if you ever use that range. Buyers will pay thousands of dollars to increase range by 10% – so why not just add some plastic covers to the wheels, at a cost of tens of dollars, in order to save thousands on a bigger battery (that takes more material to build, makes the car heavier, and so on)?

That said, on such a large and not particularly aerodynamic vehicle, we think it will likely not give a full 10% range improvement. But we’ll have to see when the cars hit the road.

But if you’ll excuse my soapbox, if we assume aero wheel covers improve efficiency by an average of 5%, and light duty transport uses ~20% of US energy, then we could reduce total US energy use by 1%, or 40 billion kWh per year, just by equipping every car with different wheel covers. Pretty huge gains for such a small action.

Riviantrackr says that the cover is removable, as we’ve seen with aero covers on other wheels. But it likely has a boring, plain-looking spoked wheel underneath which just looks less interesting than the aero covers anyway (I know some people like that for some strange reason, but I think you all are crazy).

Or, if you’d rather see this rant in meme form:

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