Rivian design boss shares how R2 builds off R1S and R1T at a lower price

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Rivian wants to shake up the industry with its next-generation R2 electric vehicle. Starting at around $45,000, the R2 is expected to open up a new market of buyers. How does Rivian plan to keep its rugged luxury feel at a lower price? The company’s design boss explains.

Rivian R2 design challenges present unique opportunity

In less than 24 hours after revealing the smaller, more affordable R2, Rivian’s CEO RJ Scaringe said the new electric SUV earned over 68,000 reservations.

Rivian unveiled the R2 last month, with starting prices around $45,000. That’s almost half the current $74,900 R1S and $69,900 R1T starting price.

At 4,715 mm long, 1,700 mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2,935, the R2 is undoubtedly smaller than the current R1S ( 5,100 mm x L, 1,873 mm x H, 3,075 x wheelbase). Despite its smaller size and lower price, Rivian insists the R2 will keep the brand’s essence.

According to Rivian’s design chief, Jeff Hammoud, the R2’s lower price point was one of the biggest challenges.

With R1, Rivian was able to include the cool features and design because “we weren’t that restricted on price point,” Hammoud said. At least, not as much as with R2.

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Rivian R2 vs R1S size comparison (Source: Rivian)

Speaking with Design Milk, the company’s design boss said Rivian wants R2 to reach many more customers. But how do you do that without the car feeling cheap or diluted?

Keeping the brand essence of the Rivian brand

Rivian made a “conscious decision to make it feel like a smaller R1S,” according to Hammoud. To keep the brand essence, Hammoud said the company picked the key design elements to ensure R2 is recognizable.

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Rivian R2 steering wheel design (Source: Rivian)

One of the features Hammoud is most excited about is the R2’s new steering wheel design. With advanced roller wheels on both sides of the wheel, you can rotate them up or down, push them in and out, or move them side to side (like Tesla).

The controls differ significantly depending on the mode you are in. For example, it will have a slight click when you rotate it for volume. In the menu, you can feel bigger “chunks” of information.

Rivian design chief Jeff Hammoud explains R2 design (Source: Design Milk)

Hammoud says the new design lets drivers feel what’s happening without taking their eyes off the wheel.

Not only does the R2 have its own unique design, but it also includes an abundance of fun accessories like a revamped camp kitchen, tent, and bike rack to upgrade any adventure.

Meanwhile, with the R3, an even smaller and cheaper EV, Rivian “showed how we can stretch the brand in a very different direction.” The R3 will feature a high-performance R3X variant reminiscent of an iconic rally car.

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Rivian family. From left to right R1T, R1S, R2, R3, R3X (Source: Rivian)

Rivian plans to start R2 production in the first half of 2026 at its Normal, IL plant. New upgrades will enable Rivian to build up to 215,000 vehicles annually, up from 150,000 previously, while slashing costs.

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