Hey Rivian, exclusive charging points are a horrible idea – and even Tesla sees it

It won’t be long before the first Rivian R1T electric trucks start to hit the road, and ahead of that launch, the EV startup has revealed some key details about what’s to come. And the Rivian Adventure Network (RAN) – its network of charging stations for electric vehicles – is the latest to be featured.

According to Rivian, there will be more than 3,500 charging stations by the end of 2023, spread over 600 sites. However, these chargers will be exclusive to “departing” Rivian drivers.

According to Rivian, RAN will have a number of key advantages over other electric car charging networks. Rivian vehicles will have automatic charging, which means you can log in and not tamper with apps or payment screens to start charging. In-car navigation can trace charging points along your route, much like Tesla Superchargers.

RAN stations will also support DC charging speeds of up to 300 kW, although the R1T and R1S can only handle speeds of 200 kW. However, it is also confirmed that these chargers will initially be Rivian exclusives, meaning that no other car will be able to use them. That doesn’t appear to be the case forever, as Rivian also confirms that he will be offering special rates to Rivian drivers later on.

Rivian will install approximately 10,000 Rivian “Waypoints” by 2023, which will deliver AC charging up to speeds of 11.5 kW. These points will apparently be available to all EV drivers from the get-go. However, since these are not fast chargers, they will only be able to offer a fraction of the charging power that RAN DC chargers will have to offer.

Electric cars need an open infrastructure

While I don’t have a problem with the additional amenities for Rivian owners, especially the discounted fares, I take issue with the fact that the chargers will be exclusive for an indefinite period. This is the wrong way to deploy an electric car charging infrastructure.

Despite all the advancements in battery technology and electric car performance, some people still have concerns about electric cars. Especially when it comes to autonomy and recharging. The main way to alleviate these concerns, despite extending the range as much as possible, is to make sure there are plenty of places to reload – and quickly.

This means not only building more charging points, especially in areas lacking electric vehicle charging infrastructure, but also making sure people can actually plug into whatever they come across.

In other words, we shouldn’t be building charging stations that can’t be used by everyone. Even though some special perks are only available for passenger cars, at the very least every EV should be able to stop, start a quick charge, and be on the road without hassle.

And since Rivian uses the same CCS charger as almost every other electric car, there’s absolutely no reason why this shouldn’t be possible from day one.

What about other charging networks?

A photo of a tesla model 3 at a compressor

(Image credit: TechToSee’s Guide)

While charging points often have their own restrictions on access and how long you can stay to charge, it doesn’t matter which car you actually own. As long as you have the correct charging port for the cables available. Just assemble, plug in and follow the instructions on the charging point (or in the companion app) to get started.

But then we have Tesla, which is probably the best example of an exclusive charging network, since Tesla Superchargers are only compatible with Tesla cars. In the United States, this is reinforced by the fact that Tesla uses a proprietary charging port rather than the CCS standard used by most other automakers.

But even if another car could plug in, which could happen in Europe where Tesla cars have CCS ports, the software prevents the Supercharger from releasing power.

In Tesla’s case, the fact that the Supercharger Network maintains this level of exclusivity is somewhat understandable. At the time of Tesla’s launch, long-range electric cars and fast-charging systems were virtually unheard of.

So the company had to invest in the supercharging network and a new charging port that could handle these speeds, otherwise Teslas would have missed one of its main selling points.

But that was almost ten years ago, when electric cars were still new. There are countless different models of electric vehicles on the roads these days, and they all need to be able to charge somewhere. The real question isn’t why Tesla superchargers are exclusive, but why they still are, especially in Europe where Tesla uses the same CCS charging standard as everyone else.

The times are changing

But that is apparently changing, according to Elon Musk. Spurred on by the prospect of government incentives in Norway, Tesla will apparently start letting the first non-Teslas use the Supercharger network before the end of the year.

According to Musk, this will eventually roll out to all countries. Superchargers are available and will work the same as other third-party charging networks, i.e. with confirmed pay and charge sessions in the Tesla app.

If you think it’s the right thing to do. If electric cars are to be ubiquitous, drivers will need to take advantage of each charging station. And it goes both ways.

In the same way that non-Teslas should be able to use the Supercharger network, Teslas in the United States should be able to plug into other charging stations – ideally without the need for expensive adapters to facilitate it.

After all, that’s how it works for gas stations, which have been doing pretty well for decades. And if electric car makers really want a smooth transition from gasoline to electric, they need to do everything in their power to make the charging experience as smooth and convenient as filling a tank. of gasoline.

With all of that in mind, it’s a step back for someone like Rivian to go in and not offer more inclusive fast charging options. Having the AC waypoints on offer is a good idea, but the speeds on offer aren’t much use if you need a serious recharge. Let’s just hope Rivian understands this and decides to end the exclusivity sooner than expected.

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