Rivian’s network of fast DC charging stations, called the Rivian Adventure Network, is slowly but surely expanding with a new station this week. Other automakers should take note and perhaps follow the same strategy.
last year Rivian has revealed its charging strategy, and we applauded them for their very detailed plan to look at tolling from all angles. We noted that the strategy was clearly inspired by Tesla, and that’s a good thing, because it’s hard to argue that someone is doing fast charging better than Tesla at the moment.
While most automakers that produce electric vehicles rely on third-party charging network operators, Rivian decided to build its own network to augment those of third-party manufacturers.
Like Tesla, Rivian is building two networks. The first, a DC fast charging network called the Rivian Adventure Network, is the equivalent of Tesla’s Supercharger network. The second, the Rivian Waypoint network, is a Level 2 charging network similar to the Tesla Destination chargers.
This gives Rivian more control over the charging experience, which has been a big problem for almost all EVs except Tesla.
We recently reported on a study that showed terrible uptime on all charging networks except the Tesla network – mainly because the chargers are not working. Besides the CEO of Rivian ( RIVN ). RJ Scarringenone of the other automaker executives seem to understand the value of owning a charging network.
Rivian Adventure Network
DC fast charging stations are quite difficult to deploy. There are many things that need to be coordinated to deploy one new station. You need to find a suitable location with high access to electricity, make a deal with the property owner, get building permits, secure the charging equipment, find a contractor to install it, and finally ask the local power grid to check and turn on the charger.
Rivian announced the 600-location adventure chain more than a year ago, and more recently opened its first stations in June.
Months later, it still only has six stations, with a new one opening this week in Barstow, California.
All active stations (yellow) are in California except one in Colorado:
Rivian focuses on places that enable adventure and help Rivian owners on their long journeys.
The Rivian network is growing slowly, but growing. In the end, I think this strategy will help Rivian as the convenient stations will help convince customers.
The same thing happened with Tesla. Some buyers waited for stations that fit their habits to appear on the network before pulling the trigger.
While it likely won’t pay off until the network grows significantly, I think other automakers should already consider following in Rivian’s footsteps. Rivian also uses the Plug and Charge standard to authenticate vehicles, which should allow it to charge other vehicles to seamlessly use the network.
Interestingly, Rivian has decided to make its network only for Rivian owners for now. It makes sense as long as it is small to maximize the benefit for its buyers. However, like Tesla, I believe Rivian will also eventually open it up to all EV owners. This will be easy since the network uses the CCS standard.
Rivian may open it sooner rather than later to secure some government funding for EV chargers, which is only available for charging stations open to a few automakers.
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