Paint Protection Film for a Rivian R1T

Rivian R1T Paint Protection

One of the most anticipated electric vehicles of the decade, the Rivian R1T is nothing short of the ultimate outdoor enthusiast’s dream truck. Packed with features to maximize storage space and ensure a comfortable ride, Rivian has stuffed almost everything they can think of into this truck. Ready to take on the trails or the road ahead, this electric pickup is thoroughly equipped for any adventure.

Rivian History

Founded in 2009 by Robert “RJ” Scaringe as Mainstream Motorsports and changed to Rivian Automotive in 2011, the company was designed around creating and manufacturing electric and autonomous vehicles. With their first vehicle destined to be a mid-engined hybrid coupe sports car, similar to Tesla, their outlook shifted soon after towards creating a larger impact on the automotive industry.

Through a large investment in 2015, the company continued to grow and develop their technologies in autonomous and electric vehicles. In November 2018, the company announced the R1T and R1S, a five-passenger pickup truck and a seven-passenger SUV. Announced as being capable of handling rough terrain and being semi-autonomous, these two vehicles would also act as the first stepping stones towards their fully autonomous vehicles.

Alt Text: Rivian R1T paint protection film application.

Originally destined to start shipping R1T trucks in late 2020, the first shipments were inevitably delayed until October 2021 due to chip shortages as well as shipping delays. The first of the R1S SUVs began delivery in December of 2021.

R1T – Under the Hood, uh, I mean Frunk

Released as the first fully-electric adventure vehicle, the R1T is one of the most capable electric vehicles yet. With the battery pack able to comfortably withstand temperatures from -25°F to 130°F and delivering 260-400 miles of range depending on wheel setup, driving style, and the motors selected in your R1T, this truck is nothing short of a powerhouse.

Alt Text: Blue Rivian R1T paint protection film application

Packing 800 horsepower into a truck is no easy feat, but Rivian has made it seem that way. With a 0-60 time of just 3.0 seconds, this truck is quicker than a substantial number of the most popular and powerful supercars on the market. Also, it’s able to tow 11,000 pounds and wade up to 3 feet in water. Your move, Lamborghini.

With a low center of gravity due to the low-sitting battery packs, and construction made from aluminum alloy, carbon fiber, and high-strength steel, the R1T is incredibly safe. All of the driver assistance packages and features come standard on every vehicle, so there’s no need to pay extra for a 360° camera or lane-keep assist, and no heated seat subscription needed. With independent air suspension and hydraulic roll control standard on every vehicle, the R1T can take on some of the most difficult terrain while leaving the passengers safe and comfortable.

Offering creature comforts like LTE and Wifi connection, panoramic roof, vegan leather seats, and high quality sound system, this adventure-proof truck keeps you and your passengers comfortable while you shake, rattle, and roll through the world around you. Offered in 9 different exterior colors, you can truly customize your Rivian to your tastes.

Between the massive number of storage spaces in the R1T, the truck offers 62 cubic feet of storage space. With a wear and corrosion-resistant bed liner, the bed of the R1T is prepared to hold all of your luggage, building supplies, or other adventure gear without causing damage. Offering just over 11 cubic feet of storage within the gear tunnel, Rivian touts it as the place that will hold “all the stuff you normally can’t find a spot for.” Muddy shoes, ski poles, golf clubs, unruly children, or persnickety in-laws would fit in the gear tunnel perfectly. Okay, maybe not your unruly children or in-laws, but don’t tell me you didn’t think about it.

The AE PPF Process

Every vehicle’s PPF process here at Automotive Elegance starts with our Sales Team. Working with our clients, the Sales Team determines their budget and what protection package will work best for their vehicle.Our Sales Team will also walk outside with the client to get a good look at their vehicle and see if there are any issues like dents, scratches, scuffs, or other damage that we should be aware of before wrapping the vehicle. After picking their desired package and talking with Sales, the client heads out and we can start the process.

Alt Text: Rivian R1T wash prep for paint protection film application

Prep Wash for PPF Installation

The vehicle is pulled into our shop by the Detail Team and then the prep wash can begin. Our Detail Team will start by cleaning the wheels of the vehicle to rid them of brake dust and other road grime. This ensures a clean surface if they’re being ceramic coated and gives the vehicle a better overall look upon finishing the PPF process, leaving it looking better than when it left the factory.

After cleaning the wheels, the vehicle can go to any of a few steps. If it has been driven a lot, the vehicle may be covered in bug guts or iron deposits from braking. Using particular detailing chemicals, the Detail Team is able to remove these safely without causing damage to the vehicle. However, leaving things like bug remains, pine sap, or bird droppings on a vehicle can cause paint damage due to their acidic nature. It’s very important to clean these off as soon as possible to prevent severe or irreversible paint damage.

The Detail Team will then wash the car fully using a foam cannon and microfiber mitts. The foamy soap covers the entire exterior of the vehicle and works to break down any road grime or other surface contaminants. The microfiber mitts work to further break down and wipe away dirt and grime while still being gentle on the surface of the vehicle, trying to eliminate any scratches or swirls in the paint. After rinsing the vehicle, the Detail Team goes back in with a light coating of foam and clay bars. The clay will help to remove any remaining surface contaminants or small dirt particles left within natural imperfections in the paint. 

Using soft microfiber towels and compressed air to dry the vehicle ensures a totally clean and smooth surface without any water spots or left over water once the vehicle is moved to an install bat within the shop.

Alt Text: paint protection film application process

PPF Installation Process

Once moved out of the wash bay and into an install bay, work can begin on applying the paint protection film. Each installer has slightly different techniques and preferences to how they choose to install film, but the end result is always the same: high quality installation of PPF.

Each installer gets rolls of pre-cut film prepared by the Design Center. In the Design Center, just upstairs from the shop, the Design Center Team uses Graphtec plotters and the XPEL Design Access Program (DAP) to prepare each sheet of film. From the larger roll, the computer-guided plotters cut the required pieces for each kit. There are countless vehicles available in XPEL’s DAP, so finding the panels for this Rivian was simple. Each piece is able to be adjusted as well, to the installer’s preferences or to work around badges or other pieces on the car.

The installers often start with the hood, which is done as a bulk piece. Bulk or or custom is when a piece is done from film straight off the roll, without being cut by a plotter first. Doing the hood often requires a second set of hands to peel the backing paper from the film, but skilled installers with years of practice can do these large pieces alone. 

Alt Text: Custom paint protection film application for a Rivian R1T

The hood of the vehicle is sprayed down with a slip solution of water mixed with a very small amount of soap, generally baby shampoo. This creates not only a clean but slippery surface for the installers to move the film around on as they work, and allows their silicone-based squeegees to slide easily over the surface of the film without skipping or getting stuck. The installers also use a tacking solution, made of water and isopropyl alcohol, which helps to promote adhesion of the glue on the back of the film.

The film is lined with adhesive that is both strong enough to remain adhered at highway speeds and is backed by a 10-year warranty, but is also gentle enough to be removed easily in the case of body panel damage, rips, or other potential accidents. Using the tacking solution helps to get the edges or particular parts of the film to adhere to allow the installers to best stretch and apply the film.

Working generally from the front end of the vehicle towards the back, the installers work to apply each piece of film and squeegee it on. The pressure required to adhere the film isn’t much, very similar to applying a sticker or decal. Once each piece has been applied, the installer will go back over with their heat gun to make sure each edge is sealed and adhered fully. These heat guns are effectively an industrial hair dryer, designed to heat concentrated areas with a bit less air power than a hair dryer.

Custom Rivian PPF Installtion 

While installing PPF on any vehicle isn’t particularly easy, many of the installers remark that Rivians are notoriously easy to install on. From their fairly basic shape, lack of complicated grille, and relatively flat panels. Despite what sounds to be a very boring look, this truck is nothing short of beautiful. Elegant and sleek lines, accentuated by flush door handles and motorized retractable tonneau cover that slides right into the body of the truck. 

Many clients also opt to add a ceramic coating to top off their vehicle. This ceramic coating bonds at the molecular level to the paint, trim, PPF, wheels, glass, and occasionally even the interior to protect it. While providing an exceptionally slick and smooth exterior shine, XPEL’s Fusion Plus ceramic coating also offers protection from UV damage, acidic contaminants, and other environmental impurities that could damage paint if left on the vehicle’s surface for an extended period of time.

After a careful once-over of the PPF on the vehicle, the ceramic installer will buff the remaining areas of the vehicle with a polishing pad and polishing compound to remove tiny surface scratches and create a smooth and shiny surface to lay down the ceramic coating. They go panel by panel to buff the surface, wiping the compound off of each panel before moving on to the next.

After each panel has been buffed, the entire surface of the vehicle, including trim, wheels, glass, and paint, is all wiped down with a preparative surface cleaner. Removing any possible contaminants, dirt, or dust off the surface, this prep spray helps to make sure the coating adheres with no problems.

Using a microfiber-wrapped foam applicator, the ceramic coating can now be applied. Working in small sections on each panel, the ceramic is liberally applied with the applicator. Once the section is applied, the installer goes back in with a first microfiber towel to wipe off excess and begin to buff it into the surface of the vehicle. Once that section is wiped, a second microfiber towel is used to fully wipe off any excess and finally buff it into the surface of the vehicle. The installer will go around doing this to each panel of the vehicle, including those with PPF, then finish with the windows and finally the wheels.

Quality Assurance

Once all of the film and/or ceramic coating have been completed by the installers, it’s now time for Quality Assurance. Each PPF panel is checked over carefully with a very high powered LED light to ensure no contaminants, overhang, lifting edges, or other issues with the film, and the entire vehicle is checked over for potential ceramic coating high spots. These spots stick out similar to an oil slick on water, so it’s important to remove them to give a final shiny and glossy look to the vehicle. Our Quality Assurance manager will go over the vehicle with the installer present to allow them to fix any potential issues. After fixing anything that needs it, the Detail Team can take over again for the final detail.

Alt Text: Automotive Elegance technician applying paint protection film to a Rivian R1T truck.

A final detail includes cleaning the windows, wiping door jambs, shining the tires, and spraying the exterior with a ceramic spray wax to give glossy shine and a hydrophobic layer. Once the vehicle is looking museum-ready, it’s delivered by the Detail Team to the front line outside of the shop, and the keys are returned to the Sales Team to be returned to the client upon their arrival back at the shop.

Paint Protection for Your New Rivian R1T

The Rivian R1T is a truly adventure-ready truck. Full of unique features, exceptional technology, and creature comforts to keep the most timid or rowdy offroaders at ease behind the wheel. With ever-improving technologies in autonomous driving, Rivian plans to be one of the leaders in both EVs and self-driving vehicles. Unsure of what the future has to offer for other models, we can only hope all of Rivian’s designs embody the same offroad readiness as the R1T.
Looking to transform your vehicle with XPEL Paint Protection film or protect it with XPEL Ultimate Plus? Give us a call at 781-281-7344 to get a free quote for protection on your vehicle including Paint Protection Film, Ceramic Coating and Window Tinting.

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