Plenty of electric vehicle companies would like to replicate the success that Tesla is currently enjoying, many implementing some of the same things the California-based EV maker did with the latest being Rivian and its plan to build its own network of chargers.
Although Rivian does have its own twist on its charging network: Adventure charging.
Unsurprisingly, its proprietary chargers will be in a lot of places one would expect: near freeway off-ramps or in bustling neighborhoods — much like Tesla’s … and Electrify America, EVgo, et al. However, since the R1T and RS1 are designed to be off-roaders as much as they are civilized transport, the company is looking to put chargers in some far away places.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to create Rivian charging locations that aren’t on the interstate, that help draw you or enable you to go to places that normally are not the kinds of places that invite or welcome electric vehicles because of charging infrastructure,” R.J. Scaringe, Rivian’s founder and CEO, told TechCrunch.com.
“We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how you can essentially create these curated drives where, depending on your point of interest, you can pick different paths. If you want to stop midway through the trip for a one-mile, two-mile or five-mile hike, you know, here’s a route that you want to take and here’s a charging location right next to it.”
Power when and where you need it. Think at trail heads for mountain bikes or hiking, near drop points for canoers and kayakers and other outdoorsy places that most EVs fear to tread. The out-of-the-way units are part of the company’s two-tier plan that will, initially, focus on putting the aforementioned fast chargers in places that they can be most accessible.
However, the more remote places may get slower charging points where EVs aren’t as prevalent, thus not requiring the 80% boost in 20 minutes that those trying to get down the interstate require. Scaringe told the website it represented a difficult challenge to best determine where to put those types of charging stations and, in some instances, how to get them there to begin with.
Offering the off-road charging stating certainly fits in with the Rivian mindset. A scan of its website shows it in all sorts of outdoorsy locations. Additionally, it offers buyers of the R1T the option to add an outdoor kitchen to the truck. It slides out of the side and for a mere $5,000, you can be Wolfgang Puck of the Backwoods.
However, it seems early on that the company, which is now taking orders for its truck and SUV, although it sold out of its Launch Edition model, will start with the more conventional charging type of network as it continues to work on the less mundane, if you will.
“We haven’t talked about this really, but that charger, the power electronics module — or the backbone of those chargers — is something that we’re going to be deploying at scale,” Scaringe told TechCrunch. He noted that the company’s high-speed DC charger will be capable of adding about 140 miles in 20 minutes.
And although it will be available to everyday drivers, it can be configured to fit the needs of fleet operators as well, he said. Not a surprising option since it has an order for 100,000 battery-electric delivery vans from Amazon.
“If you think of commercial vans, the charger and the dispenser may look a little different, but the guts of these power modules that are used to build up the charging capability are identically applied in these very different applications,” he said. “It’s one of the reasons we built all that core competency, so we can build both fleet-based B2B charging solutions and the consumer-facing adventure network for Rivian customers.
However, it’s the Rivian Adventure Network that garners attention, and for potential Rivian owners, it should. By owning the network, Rivian can work with its owners as they plan their trips, ensuring not only can they get to the mountain they plan to climb, but they can charge their vehicle while their doing it so they can get home that day.
Scaringe said owners could schedule an appointment bloc to charge a vehicle. It can also benefit Rivian, which can allow non-Rivian owners to charge up since while the network is designed for Rivian owners it doesn’t exclude the others, helping the EV company generate additional revenue.
The CEO didn’t say exactly when the first chargers would be available, but the first set of vehicles are expected to be delivered next summer, so it would likely be around the same time, he allowed, adding that each station would average six charging connectors.