Rivian’s charging plan for its electric trucks is adventurous and less risky.

Rivian R1T Electric Pickup

Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon / Bloomberg

If – or, more likely, when – all the business books start to fall on Rivian Automotive Inc., at least one should be titled: Do all the difficult things at once. The young company is trying to finish a factory and three different vehicles, while planning a road trip to a Wall Street IPO. Apparently, CEO RJ Scaringe was yet sleeping too much, because Rivian announced two weeks ago a plan to build its own charging network too, a la Tesla.

The decision, which Scaringe has hinted at for years, comprises at least 3,500 fast chargers at 600 sites and at least 10,000 slower charging “benchmarks” at campsites, motels, hiking trails and the like, all installed by 2024. Project for Expensive capital: Hardware just to build a fast-charging site can cost up to $ 320,000, according to one study, not to mention maintenance and other indirect costs. In short, Rivian’s independent strategy is a silent indictment of the US infrastructure: What’s out there right now, apparently, is not enough.

Tesla opted for the same type of proprietary network, but that was nine years ago. The non-Tesla charge map has gotten denser since then, but the pins are still thin beyond urban centers, and the center of the country is covered in electron deserts.

At the moment, Tesla has 9,723 fast-charging cables in the US, according to the latest count from the Department of Energy. The other networks combined have only 7,589 outlets for public charge, and those are much less dispersed. The Tesla club is covered in Millinocket, Me., Athens, Alabama, and Casper, Wyoming, all places where Ford’s new Mustang Mach-E can have a hard time running free. While this is a challenge for Ford, it is a bigger obstacle for Rivian’s “electric adventure vehicles”, seemingly headed for wilder places than the Santa Monica Farmers Market.

Power plug

Source: US Department of Energy.


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