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Like Tesla, Rivian will also have destination charging sites:

“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. 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.” ~ RJ Scaringe, Rivian CEO, to TechCrunch
 

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Clean Technica has some interesting Ideas for what Rivian can do with their charging network. I'm not where I stand on an open or closed charging network but the others I definitely agree with.


Some Ideas For Rivian’s Network
Based on my idiotic adventures in my Nissan LEAF, I have some ideas that Rivian could put to use when building a rural charging network.

Open vs Closed Isn’t a Black & White Issue

I think there’s some room between an open and a closed network. With a closed network, only Rivian vehicles can benefit from the added locations, which would make sense from Rivian’s perspective, at least in the short term. If you have a better rural network, people traveling to such places would choose your vehicle over the other options. On the other hand, a closed network leads to fragmentation in the EV market and incompatibility between brands could end up hurting every electric only automaker in the long run.

As was said in a film set in the ancient past that I once saw, “Only Sith think in absolutes.”

There’s no reason the network can’t be open, but also put Rivian’s owners first. Where there are multiple pedestals, some can be Rivian-only while others can be open to other brands. When there’s only one, a Rivian driver could use their in-vehicle infotainment system to reserve the charger, temporarily locking out other users. It’s also possible for Rivian to work with Tesla, ChargePoint, and other providers to colocate their destination and DC fast chargers where Rivian installs, or at least pave the way for them a bit by ordering bigger electrical service for future installs.

Avoid Duplication

Second, I think Rivian really needs to avoid location duplication at this point. Not only does this help its own vehicles be more valuable, but it also helps the EV market in general, of which they are a part.

If it builds more stations where there are stations already, Rivian vehicles aren’t any better off. For years, charging providers built more and more charging locations in the cities where current EV owners lived, which makes sense from a short term profitability perspective. In the long run, the stagnating EV charging infrastructure didn’t add any value to people’s vehicles. Because Rivian is building this network, adding value needs to be its first priority.

If a corridor is well covered by Electrify America, Rivian shouldn’t built more stations on that stretch of road unless there’s a big gap that would make towing an issue. One great example of this would be Interstate 10 between El Paso and Van Horn. There’s a steep hill along that stretch, and a truck towing much of a load wouldn’t even have level 2 stations available. Putting a station in Sierra Blanca or at the Flying Tiger truck stop near the top of the hill would be a great way to keep the Rivian trucks rolling.

Otherwise, the company needs to only build on interstates that don’t currently have infrastructure. Most interstates in Wyoming, Montana, and the Dakotas need a lot of help. Interstate 25 in New Mexico is likewise an EV wasteland. Interstate 20 through much of the Deep South could also use some love.

Work With RV Park Owners & Other Local Businesses

When it comes to driving in rural areas, RV parks have long been EV owners’ allies. Some of them charge us an arm and a leg to charge, but most of them have been excellent hosts, allowing us to use their facilities while not asking too much for the use of a charging post. Rivian can definitely build on this in some areas.

One thing Rivian can do that costs next to nothing is work with RV park owners to accommodate Rivian owners for a standard price per kWh or hour spent charging on existing poles. They can also educate park owners on best practices, safety, and other issues that may come up. Rivian owners can show up with the EVSE, and parks can help get them plugged in safely. If they want to invest a little in the relationship, gifting RV park an EVSE could to a long way to getting them to set aside a space for owners to charge up.

Along those lines, it also pays to get the other local businesses on board. While charging up at trailheads is a great idea, many of those places aren’t going to have any infrastructure. It may be possible to work with suppliers like SETEC to install low-power CCS stations at general stores, bait shops, and small restaurants to give charging that’s a little faster than level 2, but not as fast as the interstate stations.

Working with the locals also helps keep anti-EV xenophobia away. If Rivian brings the local shops business in small towns, EV owners will be seen as welcome guests and not invading watermelons coming from the blue states to ruin the traditional ways and spread communism (watermelons are green on the outside, but red on the inside). This may sound harsh and extreme, but in some small towns, I’ve encountered fairly open hostility to charging my car that was only diffused by talking guns and hunting.

If nothing else is accomplished, Rivian may sell a few more trucks to people in small towns and city-dwelling Rivian owners heading out for adventure will get better local information that makes the trip more fun.

Make Sure To Educate & Prepare Owners

While I know many Rivian owners will be ready for the rural roads, some won’t. Giving them some knowledge about traveling in the backcountry with an EV will make for a much smoother experience. I cover a lot of this in my article on the topic, but here are some highlights:

  • Make sure to have an EVSE that can plug into NEMA 14-50 plugs at RV parks
  • Have emergency gear like a spare tire, and not just an inflator kit.
  • Bring a first aid kit, cold weather clothing (if applicable), and know where cell phones won’t work
  • Consider bringing a CB or amateur radio along for emergencies
  • Make sure the car’s infotainment system has a comprehensive list of charging locations, or direct them to use plugshare.com
  • If the infotainment system doesn’t have a decent trip planner that accounts for load and terrain, direct them to use A Better Route Planner
  • Make sure customers know to leave some margin for error, and not to arrive on 1% power
  • Be sure to let people know where you’ll be if you’re going to not have cell service
If they do all of this, they’ll suffer far fewer unpleasant surprises that ruin the ownership experience.
 

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Clean Technica has some interesting Ideas for what Rivian can do with their charging network. I'm not where I stand on an open or closed charging network but the others I definitely agree with.

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"Watermelon" ... ok, that's funny. Counterpoint to Rivian not building where EA has already built - Rivian is quite likely to charge significantly less to their vehicle owners than EA, so being able to recharge with Rivian is likely to be preferred. One option would be to get EA to agree to a significant discount for Rivians rather than build excess (for the moment) chargers. I personally think there's a partnership available where Rivian could contribute a few billion dollars to the EA program and get a significant say in the whole, err, watermelon.
 

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One option would be to get EA to agree to a significant discount for Rivians rather than build excess (for the moment) chargers
EA already provides a very good discount to everyone. Price is $0.43/KWH, cost can be as high as $8.55/KWH:

GoToWebinar 000.png
 

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EA already provides a very good discount to everyone. Price is $0.43/KWH, cost can be as high as $8.55/KWH:

View attachment 1012
$8.55 per kwh is due to poor planning on EA's part. They use the word "mitigation" like it's some goodwill effort on their part. It's part of proper engineering to provide sufficient banked power with capacitors (or alternatives) so that users don't incur outrageous spot pricing. Smoothing that rate is part of EA's job when they provide a charging station, or as the graphic suggests, performing the economic assessment to decide to just accept those demand prices rather than invest the additional expense to bank power when it's cheaper. If they didn't perform that analysis, then bad on them.
 

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$8.55 per kwh is due to poor planning on EA's part. They use the word "mitigation" like it's some goodwill effort on their part. It's part of proper engineering to provide sufficient banked power with capacitors (or alternatives) so that users don't incur outrageous spot pricing. Smoothing that rate is part of EA's job when they provide a charging station, or as the graphic suggests, performing the economic assessment to decide to just accept those demand prices rather than invest the additional expense to bank power when it's cheaper. If they didn't perform that analysis, then bad on them.
Yes, they are adding batteries to the various sites to mitigate the issue, but of course that adds additional capital expenditures that must be amortized over many users. Nothing is "free".
 

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