Charge It: Rivian to Build Up Charging Network, Open to Public

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

Ask anyone who’s been behind the wheel of an electric vehicle lately about the state of public charging facilities and you’re likely to get an earful about broken facilities and wonky payment systems. Say what you like about Tesla (and we often do) but their original tack of building out a huge charging network ahead of dumping millions of EVs on America’s roads was the right call.

Other automakers are getting the memo, drawing up plans to build their own networks instead of relying on third-party operators who, more often than not, can negatively affect the EV experience. Car companies are waking up to the fact that an integral part of electric ownership is dealing with public charging stations and there is an opportunity for them to improve that part of the puzzle – at an expense, to be sure, but one which could lead to brand loyalty instead of trading the keys in disgust at a competitor’s store.

Anyway, chalk Rivian up as the latest to figure this out. According to reports, the company is planning hundreds of charging locations in what they’re calling a ‘Rivian Adventure Network”, one which will see its proprietary equipment open for use to the owners of non-Rivian products. It is estimated Rivian has about 30 of its own chargers in public spots right now, and the new ones could see the light of day as early as 2024.

Rivian says they’ll begin installations on the coasts and major markets, working their way inland until a Tesla-like network is built which should – in theory – permit a Rivian owner to drive across this land whilst only stopping at Rivian-branded chargers. "In terms of independent networks,” Rivian honcho RJ Scaringe said to Automotive News. “There are only a couple out there — outside of Tesla — and they're not very good," citing issues with uptime and reliability. Offering their own charging stations could remove these variables since Rivian can keep an eye on those metrics. At the moment, they (and other EV makers) are at the mercy and whims of third-party providers.

Know what else they can keep an eye on in this scenario? Data, and lots of it. It is not impossible to imagine car companies harvesting mounds of information about where their customers are charging, for how long, and a host of other habits. If you think this can be used to sell products or develop targeted initiatives, you’re probably right.

[Image: Rivian]

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Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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2 of 15 comments
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Kwik_Shift_Pro4X on Apr 19, 2023

    Funny thing is that EV companies don't even maintain their charging stations. That's the property owner's responsibility to maintain and repair.

  • 3SpeedAutomatic 3SpeedAutomatic on Apr 20, 2023

    Tesla initiated its charging stations to get the ball rolling. There are currently 130,000 charging stations in the US which will hit a saturation point, just like gas stations, in the next few years. Many have terrible service or in need of repair. However, these charging stations will move from Venture Capital status (bleeding money) to For-Profit. That's when the board of directors will demand that each charger have a certain return of investment which will require management to get its act together. A service tech will be more valuable than some airhead CEO.

    In the mean time, Rivian needs to focus on production volume which translates into economy of scale which equates to profits. Tesla had slashed prices which will impact Rivian sales. Rivian has an ace up its sleeve via the Electric Delivery Vehicle (EDV) contact with Amazon. Even if it's a break-even contract, Rivian gets "real world" experience to harden its current line up and claim sales volume which provides bragging rights. No need to squander precious resources on charging stations that's already addressed by outside market forces.

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