For the last two years, much of the news surrounding Rivian has been in the way of new investments. Amazon invested $700 million, Ford invested half a billion, and the last four rounds of investment have netted the company 6.8 billion. The truck and SUV prototypes look more or less the same as they did in 2018, and while they ran a pair of them as support in Apple TV’s Long Way Up series, and RoadShow took one on the Rebelle Rally last year, there hasn’t been much news. Thursday, however, Rivian announced that it would be installing over 10,000 new chargers nationwide.
The Rivian Adventure Network will include over 3,500 DC fast chargers at over 600 sites. The company says these will be located along highways and main roads, near cafes and shops. That’s pretty traditional, as DC fast charging goes, you only really need that if you’re planning on taking a long road trip. Once you get to your destination, or somewhere you plan to stay for a while, standard level 2 is plenty.
Speaking of level 2 chargers, Rivian is also planning to install thousands of “waypoint” chargers at shopping centers, restaurants, hotels, campsites, and parks. Rivian worked a deal with the state of Colorado to install two of thes waypoint chargers at each of the 42 state parks. This would make it quite easy for all EV owners to plug in while they’re on a hike in the park and have some extra juice when they get back. L2 chargers add around 25 miles per hour of charge in an R1T or R1S.
Unlike Tesla, Rivian’s chargers will not use a proprietary plug, sticking to the traditional J1772 and CCS-style cables. Like Tesla, however, Rivian’s DC Fast network of chargers will only be available to Rivian owners. While the cord will fit into your Mustang Mach-E or Porsche Taycan, it won’t deliver any electrons to a car without that little diamond badge. The waypoint network of L2 chargers will be open to any EVs, however.
By using the CCS-style plugs, Rivian owners won’t need to worry about bringing along an adapter to be afforded access to the 4,247 DC fast chargers in the U.S. and Canada. That’s around four times as many as what Tesla’s Supercharger network can claim. Add in the 3,500 that Rivian is building, plus the 550,000 that Joe Biden has pledged to install, and Tesla’s advantage looks to be shrinking.
Rivian’s charging network is ambitious, but work needs to be done to ensure the long term viability of electric vehicles, and this is a step in the right direction. Considering how much capital the company has raised in recent years, it should have no trouble affording such a vast network. The interesting part of all of this is Rivian’s commitment to renewable energy. The company has said that every electron flowing through its charging network will either be from renewable sources or offset through renewable energy certificates. It plans to use solar, wind, and other renewables as often as possible, but whatever isn’t provided by those will be offset appropriately to fund future renewable progress.
Perhaps my favorite part of all this is that Rivian is bulking up the infrastructure along 395, one of my favorite routes in the U.S. west. I’ll be able to drive a Rivian from Reno to Joshua Tree without so much as a hiccup. That rules!