A full-electric 2023 Rivian truck has taken First Place in the 4×4 class of the 2023 Rebelle Rally. The Rebelle Rally is the first women’s off-road navigation rally in the U.S. The win also means that the company can lay claim to being the very first manufacturer to win the Rebelle Rally with an all-electric vehicle. Here’s a look at the event and the skilled driver and navigator who made the win happen.
The 2023 Rivian Truck Winning Team
The Rivian 4×4 class-winning team consists of driver Lilly Macaruso and navigator Alex Anderson. Both are employees of Rivian. Anderson is a Senior Mechanical Engineer and Macaruso is a Special Projects Engineer. This is the second year the duo competed in the Rebelle Rally. The pair competed in 2022 as a team, finishing in Fourth Place and winning the event’s Rookie of the Year award. For 2023, the team gathered 1,395 points over the course of competition to earn First Place. The team edged out the 2022 Rebelle Rally 4×4 class-winning team of Nena Barlow and Teralin Petereit by 36 points. The Rivian team took the lead of the 4×4 class on day 5/6 of competition and distanced itself from competitors on day 7.
What is the Rebelle Rally?
Over the course of the Rebelle Rally’s eight-year history the event has included participants from 322 different cities, spanning 51 states/provinces, and ten countries. For 2023, the Rebelle Rally took place in the far reaches of Nevada and California over the course of eight days. It began in Mammoth Lakes, California, and concluded in Imperial Sand Dunes, California. Base camps were utilized along the way. Macaruso and Anderson were one of 65 two-person teams. Team members were from 100 different cities, representing 28 U.S. states and three countries. Ages of the competitors ranged from 23-75 years old. Occupations of the competitors included executives, lawyers, mothers, students, military members, retirees, and many women in STEM. Furthermore, competition entries included ten vehicle manufacturers, collectively fielding a total of 24 teams.
Precise Driving Combined with Ultimate Navigation and Challenge
Rebelle Rally combines fun, yet challenging precision driving with the ultimate navigation challenge. It’s an endurance competition and not a race. There’s a unique scoring and checkpoint system and it’s combined with roadbook challenges for a wide range of team experience and skills. Participants use maps, compass, roadbooks, strategy, and a vehicle. But here’s the thing: No GPS or other electronic devices are allowed. In the end, participants drive over 1,550 miles of terrain. The goal of Rebelle Rally is for the participants to increase their competence, confidence, and skill.
The Rivian R1T is in the Electrified 4×4 Class
There are two vehicle classes and three vehicle designations at the Rebelle Rally. The classes are 4×4 (those with a two-speed transfer case) and X-Cross (unibody vehicles with no low range gearing). The three vehicle designations are Bone Stock (no modifications except for off-road tires), 4030 (over 40-year-old production-based vehicles), and Electrified (battery-electric, plug-in hybrid, or fuel-cell electric vehicles). Electrified vehicles are placed in either the 4×4 or X-Cross class depending on their off-road capabilities and intended use. The Rivian R1T of Macaruso and Anderson qualified for the 4×4 Class within the Electrified designation.
Development of the Electrified Class Began in 2018
The Electrified class of competitors is not a new thing at the Rebelle Rally. The rally has been at the forefront of integrating electrified vehicles into its competition for years. As a matter of fact, prior to its 2020 debut the Electrified class was in development for two years. The class was created to showcase electric and alternative powertrain vehicles. It’s also dedicated to testing and proving electrified vehicles. Naturally, a great way to test and prove an EV is to thrash it in a variety of environments for several days. All battery-empowered vehicles at the Rebelle Rally sport an electrified badge and the badge is prominent on the event website and scoring. Yep, the Rebelle Rally celebrates electrified vehicles.
Rivian was One of the First EVs to Compete
A Rivian was one of the first EVs to compete at the Rebelle Rally. In 2020 it was a pre-production R1T. Thus, Rivian helped to lead the way for EV growth at the rally. By 2022 there were seven EVs including two Rivians. That year there were also three Jeep PHEVs and two hybrid Toyotas. For this year’s event there were a dozen Electrified class competitors and four of those were Rivians. In addition to the Rivians there were a pair of Toyota Tundra hybrids, a pair of Toyota Sequoia hybrids, three Jeep Wrangler 4xes, and a Ford Mach-E Rally. The Rebelle Rally notes that the battery-electric vehicle program is limited to manufacturer entries due to the logistics of remote, rapid charging. Additionally, there were more hybrid vehicles in the competition fielded by privateer teams.
Here’s How Rivian Charged its Competing Vehicles
A huge challenge to EVs competing in the Rebelle Rally was how to charge them in remote areas. All rally base camps are in areas with no electric infrastructure. And the base camps are on the move. Thus, a powerful, portable electric infrastructure is needed. For this, event organizers turned to Renewable Innovations. The company brought its Mobile Energy Command-Hydrogen (MEC-H) to the 2023 Rebelle Rally. This system is equipped with eight fuel cells, and it delivers 360 kW of DC rapid charging. Virtual pipelines allow transport of large quantities of hydrogen to remote locations. In addition to DC fast charging for EVs, Renewable Innovations provided its Mobile Energy Command-Solar (MEC-S). This system was used to power the Rebelle Rally base camp. It includes high-density solar panels and Smart Flowers that follow the sun to maximize efficiency. In total, the system can generate 50 kW of peak power.
A Support Trailer Provides Even More Portable Power
Also on tap was Renewable Innovations’ support trailer. It has six energy storage modules and two power modules from Lion Energy totaling 80 kWh. The trailer also has solar panels producing an extra 3kWh of power. The company notes that this will offer level 1 and level 2 charging for PHEVs to ensure no hiccups during the rally. It’s important to note that Rebelle Rally organizers assessed several companies in its quest for remote power and Renewable Innovations came out on top. A Rebelle Rally spokesperson says, “When it comes to powering the Electrified Program, we vetted many companies who all had a lot of promises – but couldn’t deliver, nor have backup plans. It’s been an arduous task and could not be possible or successful without the expertise of partner Renewable Innovations.
The Bottom Line
Macaruso and Anderson made history at the 2023 Rebelle Rally. Not only did the team demonstrate exceptional teamwork and skills, but they also proved, again, that the Rivian is a rugged EV. It’s also important to note that Rivian had a customer team consisting of driver Mandy Brezina and navigator Alex Gilman. It was Brezina’s fourth time competing in the Rebelle Rally. This team also made history because it was the first in Rebelle Rally history to compete in a personally owned, all-electric vehicle. The team had a solid showing, finishing in 11th Place.