Until Tesla started building out its Supercharger network, automakers were not known for building their own refueling stations. But as electric vehicles have grown in popularity, finding ways to charge all of these EVs has created an opening for companies that want to attract attention to their vehicles.
The latest example is Rivian, which just announced what it is calling the Rivian Adventure Network, a DC fast charger system that it will build across the U.S. and Canada.
These high-speed chargers will be compatible only with Rivian EVs and will pump energy into the battery packs at a rate of 140 miles of range in 20 minutes. The network will initially charge vehicles at rates over 200 kW, but Rivian will upgrade to over 300 kW in the future. The chargers will use only renewable energy, either wind or solar, generated for the network or through Renewable Energy Certificates that Rivian will use to get clean electricity from other providers. Rivian has not determined the cost for drivers to use the network.
In keeping with Rivian's outdoorsy image, the company said it would install the Adventure Network not only along popular travel routes but also "further into more remote destinations." The announcement lists Michigan's Upper Peninsula, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the Adirondacks as some of the many stations that will start opening this year. By the end of 2023, Rivian said it would have over 3,500 fast chargers in operation at over 600 sites.
Aside from its commercial vehicles division, Rivian has announced just two models, the R1T pickup truck and the R1S SUV. But the benefit of building both vehicles and the charging network means that Rivian will simplify the actual charging process for its owners. Without getting into specifics, Rivian said that R1T and R1S drivers will be able to "just pull up and plug in" and that the in-vehicle navigation systems will automatically plan stops for charging when it creates driving routes.
But wait, there's more. Rivian is also working to install over 10,000 Level 2 chargers by the end of 2023. Called "Waypoints," these will use the common J1772 plug that is standard on most EVs on the road today. At a rate of 11.5 kW, they will put 25 miles of range into an R1T or R1S each hour. Located at places like restaurants and hotels, the Waypoints can benefit all EV drivers. The first Waypoints will be installed at all 42 Colorado State Parks, starting in July.
Rivian's approach makes sense given the types of EVs it will build and the lifestyle demographic it is targeting. Other automakers are partnering with existing national charging station networks to provide similar convenience and services. For example, Volvo and ChargePoint have teamed up to provide access to approximately 80% of the existing charging stations in the U.S. and Canada.