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EV-maker Rivian plans Tesla-like, mega-charging network

Henry Payne, The Detroit News on

Published in Automotive News

Rivian promises its Waypoint 240-volt, "Level Two" chargers in every state park. It jump-started that goal this week by committing to install at least two charging stations in all 42 Colorado state parks by July.

The EV-maker is also committed to producing 10,000, battery-powered delivery trucks for Amazon by 2022 (100,000 by 2023) — but the Rivian Adventure Network will operate separately from infrastructure charging those trucks.

Rivian says its charging network will be conveniently located on highways and roads near cafes and shops. Tesla Superchargers are commonly found at Meijer mega-stores with dining and shopping nearby to kill time while its vehicles charge up to an hour depending on the amount of range required. Electrify America stations are frequently found at Walmarts. A Toledo area EA station is located at a Ohio turnpike service plaza.

Rivian says that details on pricing will be released for customers soon. Third-party charging companies typically have subscription plans with some automakers covering their costs for first-time EV buyers. Tesla rolled out its service free to Model S owners in 2012 but has since begun charging as more vehicles like the hot-selling Model 3 sedan have come to market.

Unlike Tesla, Rivian's plug is based on the common CCS American standard so R1Ts, for example, can plug directly into EA fast chargers. Teslas require an adapter.

Utilities are getting in on the fast charging act, too. Six Midwest utilities — including Consumers and DTE Energy — have committed to building a fast-charging network from Michigan to Kansas by 20022. Currently, Consumers claims fast-charging stations in Cadillac, Gaylord, Marshall, Big Rapids and Saugatuck, with plans for 30 more.

"We're excited to see automakers like Rivian building their own networks," said Kellen Shefter, Electric Transportation director for the Edison Electric Institute, which represents the power industry. "Tesla has used their network to serve and build loyalty with their customers, so we're not surprised to see Rivian following suite."

 

EEI expects 20 million EVs on the road by 2030 (up from an estimated 1.4 million today). Shefter says the numerous parallel fast charging networks bring high voltage power into new areas like shopping centers but that the ramp up will be evolutionary and should not strain the power grid.

Rivian claims its chargers will be "powered by 100% renewable energy." That's likely a reference to company plans to buy carbon offsets like Renewable Energy Certificates — as the Adventure Network will draw juice from a power grid made up of natural gas, coal, and nuclear power.

The secondary, 10,000 Level Two Waypoint chargers will be found at restaurants, hotels, and campsites, to deliver up to 25 miles of range an hour.

Like Tesla, Rivian plans charging management via in-vehicle navigation or through a phone app. Details will be forthcoming as R1Ts and R1Ss roll off Rivian's Normal, Illinois, manufacturing line this summer.

"On the road, our in-vehicle navigation automatically routes you through any needed charging stops, prioritizing Rivian chargers as well as DC fast chargers from CCS partner networks," says the company of its vehicles, which boast up to 300 miles of range. "Simply enter your destination, our maps will plan charging for you."

The EV maker with operations in Plymouth and California offers a wall charger for home installation at vehicle purchase. EV makers recommend 240-volt charger installations for about 16 miles of charge per hour. A standard, 120-volt outlet returns a meek few miles of charge per hour.

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