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Driver Gardner Nichols Leveraged Leading-Edge Suspension Technology To Set Record for Production Electric Trucks in 2024

Northville, Michigan, June 21, 2024 – Rivian engineer Gardner Nichols’ first encounter with the famed Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC), in 2023, resulted in a new elapsed-time record (11:23.983) for production electric pickup trucks. Nichols and his Monroe Intelligent Suspension-equipped second-generation Rivian R1T Quad-Motor will return to “America’s Mountain” with even higher goals as they compete in the Exhibition Division of this year’s PPIHC on Saturday. And Nichols, senior performance engineer for Rivian, expects the truck’s leading-edge KINETIC® suspension – standard equipment on R1T and R1S models – will once again play a pivotal role in achieving his goals.

“With my background in vehicle dynamics and test driving, I understand the benefits of maintaining optimal balance and traction in all operating environments, especially throughout the sustained climb and more than 150 tight turns at Pikes Peak,” Nichols said. “Our Monroe Intelligent Suspension system was a significant competitive advantage last year by keeping us firmly connected to the surface and helping me enter and exit each turn with greater power and speed.”

Each R1T’s factory-equipped Monroe Intelligent Suspension system features four semi-active CVSA2 lightweight electronic dampers interconnected with KINETIC hydraulic roll control technology. Together these technologies instantaneously adapt to changing operating dynamics to maintain optimal vehicle balance and stability and provide increased wheel articulation and traction. In addition to the Rivian R1T pickup and the R1S SUV, the Monroe Intelligent Suspension KINETIC system is featured on a variety of SUV and sports car models from leading global OEMs.

“Rivian and other leading automakers have adopted KINETIC technology to deliver a superior driving experience in all situations, whether it’s on a racetrack, offroad, rock climbing or in a normal daily driving environment,” said Bob Hughes, Interim Leader Monroe Ride Solutions, Tenneco.

Rivian’s second generation R1T pickup rolled off the manufacturing validation line in late March and had just two miles on the odometer heading into the first of two weekends of pre-race testing. “Between five test days, we got exposure to every part of the racecourse,” Nichols said. “Those who are new to Pikes Peak may be surprised that the only time a driver gets to run the whole course continuously in one attempt is on race day. During our final practice morning, we consistently set times five to six seconds faster than our 2022 R1T.”

Nichol’s support team is made up of a handful of Rivian employees, although the effort began as a “passion project” for hundreds of contributors across all areas of the EV manufacturer’s business. “Unlike other OEMs participating in this year’s race, we haven’t spent tens of thousands of dollars on private test days or contracted an outside race team to run this effort,” he said. “Everyone working on this project still has a regular day job at Rivian and it is a full in-house effort.”

The PPIHC Exhibition Division is reserved for prototype or preproduction vehicles. Other divisions are: Unlimited – exotic vehicles designed for PPIHC; Time Attack 1 – two- and four-wheel-drive modified, specialized, production-based vehicles; GT4 Trophy – a spec division for GT4 racecars; Open Wheel – single-engine, single-seat vehicles with open wheels and cockpit; and Pikes Peak Open – highly modified stock-appearing vehicles.

In addition to KINETIC technology, the Monroe Intelligent Suspension portfolio includes the CVSAe semi-active suspension, which continuously adapts vehicle damping characteristics based on inputs from multiple onboard sensors. This system is featured on more than 80 popular vehicle models.

Tenneco is also one of the world’s leading manufacturers of passive dampers for the original equipment and replacement markets. Click here to learn more about the full portfolio of Monroe Intelligent Suspension technologies or here for detailed information concerning Monroe OE Solutions passive dampers.

  • Gardner Nichols
  • Rivian R1T with Monroe Sponsor on the door
  • Pikes Peak International Hill Climb test drive Rivian R1T with Gardner Nichols
  • Pikes Peak International Hill Climb test drive Rivian R1T with Gardner Nichols

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