Home » Tesla’s Charging Network Takeover Continues With Rivian

Tesla’s Charging Network Takeover Continues With Rivian

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Say what you want about Tesla, but there’s one thing the electric automaker has gotten really right over the years: its Supercharger network. I’d wager that not only is it the best product Tesla’s ever launched—something it still struggles with—it’s had the wider benefit of convincing a skeptical public of the viability of electric vehicles in general. Now, that product is a party the rest of the industry is vying to get in on, and EV truckmaker Rivian is the latest to show up at the door with a six-pack.

(Which begs the question, what kind of beer would Rivian bring to a party if it was a person? Some kind of IPA, I think. Something fancy that few people have heard of.)

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Rivian announced today that its trucks too will gain access to Tesla’s Supercharger network starting in 2024 via an adapter, and then its vehicles will adopt the Tesla charging ports as standard equipment from 2025 onward. In doing so, Rivian joins General Motors and Ford in switching to Tesla’s port—which Tesla alls the North American Charging Standard, or NACS—and other automakers may do the same. Reportedly, both Hyundai and Stellantis are looking at doing so.

Why is this happening? Because, basically, duh. It’s no secret that Tesla has built out the most extensive, easiest to use and generally most reliable public charging network. While other networks on the Combined Charging System (CCS) standard have relied on third-party apps, onerous payment systems and constant issues with downtime, Tesla’s network is pretty seamless. I test a ton of EVs these days and drive Teslas generally whenever I travel (renting one from Turo is one of my favorite lifehacks) and the difference in the charging experience is night-and-day.

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“We’re excited to work with Tesla and to see collaborations like this help advance the world toward carbon neutrality,” Rivian CEO and founder R.J. Scaringe said in a press release. “The adoption of the North American Charging Standard will enable our existing and future customers to leverage Tesla’s expansive Supercharger network while we continue to build out our Rivian Adventure Network. We look forward to continuing to find new ways to accelerate EV adoption.”

Besides Tesla, no automaker really wants to be in the charging or fueling game; there’s another reality somewhere in the multiverse where the Mirai was the Model S because Toyota built out a fast and safe hydrogen fueling network. But that’s not the reality we find ourselves in. In the EV world, Tesla did this right and the other car companies figure they may as well outsource charging to them.

I think there’s a few ways to look at this. On one hand, Supercharging is a superior customer experience for everybody involved and a positive for car companies looking to get people into their EVs as quickly as possible.

On the other hand, CCS is a proper standard overseen by a group called CharIN. It has multiple stakeholders, including car and tech companies, behind it—think WiFi, which is designed to work with basically everything. NACS is a plug designed by one company. And while it’s technically an open standard, the folks at CharIN have said otherwise, claiming there’s not a ton of information released by Tesla to make it a real, agreed-upon industry standard. That means potentially, we run the risk of having almost all EV charging in North America run by just one monolithic company—and one led by a guy up top who’s notorious for hard-dealing and doing whatever he wants.

Or maybe not, right? We’re still in the earliest, most Wild West days of electrifying the auto industry, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Tesla’s got an early lead in the EV race and it’s about to be the dominant player in charging in North America now, but who knows where the future will go. In the interim, a lot of Rivian owners are about to have a lot fewer headaches when it comes to public charging.

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Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 year ago

Come on Tesla was the first and only company to actually build a charging network so of course logical winner. But Rivian is now on board? What so a company that sold 70 cars and all of them recalled, yeah autopian took the weekend off, but a story was released all Rivians (76) have a recall. Not a real win for Tesla chargers.
As for beer The Athletic Company Alchohol Free Beer $30 for a 12 pack on Amazon.

Last edited 1 year ago by Mr Sarcastic
Spectre6000
Spectre6000
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

I think you’re confusing Rivian with VinFast… I’m pretty sure I’ve seen more than 76 Rivians in the wild just around Denver.

Things and stuff
Things and stuff
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Rivian delivered 7,946 vehicles in Q1 2023

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Huh?

Thevenin
Thevenin
1 year ago

I’ve said most of this in today’s Morning Dump, but it’s worth repeating: I am wary of the NACS pivot.

I’m not terribly worried about the technical side. NACS is dropping CANBUS in favor of PLC (same as CCS), so I expect CCS/Tesla adapters, and it’ll be interesting to see if Tesla chargers remain reliable once they have a wide array of voltages and custom charge curves to deal with, or once they have to contact external secure servers instead of using internal (local) customer databases. The shape of the plug isn’t what’s made Tesla chargers reliable. But those are minor details compared to the elephant in the room.

What I’m worried about is what’s called chokepoint capitalism.

You see, while NACS is “open” (according to Tesla), it’s not an open standard in the way USB is an open standard. CharIn is 100% right on this point. NACS is proprietary. Tesla owns the rights and the patents, and they permit other manufacturers to use those designs after bilateral agreements behind closed doors.

Once every manufacturer relies on a Tesla-owned standard and the alternatives die out, there’s very little to prevent Tesla from exploiting that chokepoint. They could unilaterally change the standard to hobble the competition, or they could simply start charging exhorbitant royalties for anyone who wants to sell EVs or build chargers in America.

For Rivian, this is like a small internet business in the 2000s trying to decide whether or not to sell through Amazon. In the short term it means a bigger customer base and superior product support. But once Amazon became the only option for consumers and sellers alike, they became a monster, taking exhorbitant fees and undercutting prices with their in-house brand and filling search results with spam.

Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe Tesla wants to give away their biggest selling point (their supercharger network) and NOT exploit a chokepoint that would let them crush the competition and/or make them billions of dollars.

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
1 year ago
Reply to  Thevenin

One of the reason I want to see the deals the other manufacturers are signing. Are their any protection clauses, all chargers open to all customers, everyone pays the same rate, length of the agreement, and most importantly who is paying who in this deal? I suspect one party is paying the other something now and vice versus periodically after that.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 year ago
Reply to  Thevenin

So comparison can Teslas reliable network remain reliable as it grows vs can any of the unreliable systems become reliable with no money or support despite all of the sites sucking?

Rabob Rabob
Rabob Rabob
1 year ago
Reply to  Thevenin

Tesla has been opening supercharger stations for over a decade now. I have zero sympathy for all the brands that installed “free” chargers at dealerships (lol) and gave you a broken app for Electrify America.

Torque
Torque
1 year ago

I expect at some point (dont onow when, I’d guess easily +5 years from now) ev cars will be the norm & you wont have to physically plug them in to charge, instead wirelessly charging via charge pads like many (most?) People do today with their smart phones. The loss in efficiency I’ve read with wireless charging like this is while not neglible, it is minimal (1-2% loss), and this way you don’t have to worry about damage to the physical plug handle for you or the charging provider

Only downside I can think of is the 1-2% charging efficiency loss. However if Tony Seba continues to be right like he has now for the past 12 years we’ll have an abundance of SWB* energy (he calls it superpower) so it won’t matter
*solar, wind & battery

Note: solar has been the cheapest form of energy capture/creation since 2016 on open energy markets

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
1 year ago
Reply to  Torque

The efficiency loss on wireless charging for phones is 15%+. BMW announced a wireless car charging system few years ago and the efficiency was about 75%. Wireless charging is never the answer, any loss vs a plug goes against any green effort.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 year ago
Reply to  Torque

The vast majority of people charge their phones with cables, and wireless charging is very inefficient so it doesn’t make sense for large batteries. We’ve been fueling up with “cables” (hoses) since the beginning of time and that UI works well enough.

Last edited 1 year ago by Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Charlie Hartman
Charlie Hartman
1 year ago

We have 2 years and 10 months left on our i4 lease – really hoping this gets resolved (and BMW is on board) before its time to buy the car or lease another one.

Frankencamry
Frankencamry
1 year ago

Rivian would bring a Pre-Prohibition Lager. It’s a nod to the last time electric cars were relevant, its Midwestern industrial roots and usually a tasty beverage all in one.

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
1 year ago

If BMW, VW, or Merc joins the NACS bandwagon it will surprise me as Euro CCS2 already defeated NACS.

Tesla will probably reopen that fight anyway.

Tesla: Hi EU, can you switch to NACS.
EU: NO, stop asking.
Tesla: But all the American car companies are switching.
EU: Too bad, they are idiots.

Jonathan Myers
Jonathan Myers
1 year ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

BMW, VW, and Mercedes already has different connectors for North America and Europe. They use CCS2 in Europe and CCS1 in North America. At this point it makes a lot of sense for the European EV makers to use the NACS in the North America and CCS2 in Europe. Tesla does the CCS2 in Europe and NACS in North America. At this point NACS is the North American standard like it or not. BMW and Mercedes will be going to NACS if they want their customers to have access to the only reliable fast charging network in North America and I’m 100% sure they will since their premium customers don’t want to hassle with a poor charging experience. Just like CCS2 won in Europe, NACS has won in North America

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonathan Myers

The French will probably insist on their own standard where you charge the car via a cigarette lighter, which is mandatory on all motor vehicles.

Acrimonious Mofo
Acrimonious Mofo
1 year ago

Rivian shows up with a barrel aged fruited Gose.

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
1 year ago

Not surprised. Everything online says Tesla Superchargers are the best EV DCFC experience by far. Kinda like Apple where it just works while the nitty gritty is handled behind the scenes.

Rivian seems like a Founders All Day session IPA fella. Wants to kick back with something hoppy around the campfire while having a good time in the great outdoors where the focus isn’t on getting drunk.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 year ago

$10 says if Apple comes out with an EV, they will use a different charging plug and protocol.

Steven Sims
Steven Sims
11 months ago

No bet.

Sci Pi
Sci Pi
1 year ago

Tesla keeps drifting towards becoming an energy supplier

Steve F
Steve F
1 year ago
Reply to  Sci Pi

I’m convinced this is their end game. Selling cars is hard and expensive. Selling energy and services to those cars when you’re the dominant player in the field? Comparatively easy mode.

Function
Function
1 year ago

This won’t solve the Rivian issues. There Amazon delivery wagons don’t like to charge I. Heavy rain, and adapter won’t help that. Nor do they like to drive through kinda deep puddles.

Chronometric
Chronometric
1 year ago

At the current low valuation, Tesla should buy Rivian, drop the stupid Cybertruck, revise the next generation R2T and R2S for efficient manufacturing, and rule the world.

And Rivian beer – let’s go all out on the bro-factor – Terrapin Hopsecutioner or Zombie Dust.

Last edited 1 year ago by Chronometric
Chris Sampson
Chris Sampson
1 year ago
Reply to  Chronometric

as someone who works for rivian, i sure fucking hope not

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
1 year ago

Rivian beer. Tactical Nuclear Penguin.

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
1 year ago
Reply to  Arrest-me Red

Had a bottle of that once and it quite memorable.

Jalop Gold
Jalop Gold
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Sexton

….but was it???

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
1 year ago

the folks at CharIN have said otherwise, claiming there’s not a ton of information released by Tesla to make it a real, agreed-upon industry standard. 

People don’t care that NACS isn’t a “real, agreed-upon industry standard”, they want something that works. According to all accounts, CCS chargers are plagued with issues and downtime. The folks at CharIN need to work at making a better product rather than whine about a competitor that has a superior product.

TurboCruiser
TurboCruiser
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas Metcalf

That is a foolish statement. The problem isn’t CCS as a standard. It’s 3rd party charging stations like Electrify America not building robust stations and skimping on maintenance. CharIN is not to blame.

Last edited 1 year ago by TurboCruiser
Mthew_M
Mthew_M
1 year ago
Reply to  TurboCruiser

Too few people are acknowledging this. Sure, the Superchargers work a lot better – Tesla controls every single piece of the system. That goes out the window when GM, Ford, hell, eventually Chinese car companies are charging on them, and it even goes further out the window when it’s not even a Tesla charging station, just a company supplying a NACS port. There are definite pros & cons to be discussed between NACS and CCS, but, all those Electrify America and ChargePoint (etc) stations are just going to grow NACS cables out the side, they aren’t going away, and they aren’t materially going to change.

It will be interesting to see how Tesla handles it – if there are Superchargers reserved for Teslas, if Teslas work how they always have but everyone else has to pay with a credit card, app, etc, or just what they’re going to do. Hopefully they will maintain it as a ‘premium’ service, with the support they need to keep their always-on reputation. But it’s going to take a lot more support than it has in the past.

Drew
Drew
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas Metcalf

I suspect that NACS, as it rolls out to more manufacturers, will see many of the same issues, especially since it isn’t a proper industry standard. Not only will a lot of the same sloppy players get involved in the charging space, but it is harder to ensure things work correctly when you have a wider variety of hardware receiving the charge.

M K
M K
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas Metcalf

At least if everyone is using NACS, there will be viable alternatives to horribly maintained chargers. Won’t be able to blame the connector anymore. Not a Tesla fan, but they have done well with their charging network.

Rabob Rabob
Rabob Rabob
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas Metcalf

I follow EV motorcycles and almost every review involving a longer ride has a paragraph devoted to struggling to find a working charger while the range ticks down.

...getstoneyII
...getstoneyII
1 year ago

That’s actually great news. The auto world is slowly but surely deciding that VHS is the better option, even with the trade-offs. For now, anyway…

The reality is that all of this stuff will be obsolete in a decade or so, relegating all this manufacturing and build-outs to the dustbins like a cruel joke. Yes, it will take some time to convert it all to whatever is to come next as all of these companies will try to squeeze the last night of toothbrushing out of the tube. It’s still gonna happen, though. And billions and billions of dollars will be the fuel of this mistake that is this gen of EV’s.

The cost of progress, I suppose.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
1 year ago

what kind of beer would Rivian bring to a party if it was a person?

Something a bit more refined but not over the top.
I’m thinking it would bring a decent sparkling wine. Something that goes well with bbq chicken and vegetables like Famega Vinho Verde.

Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
1 year ago

I’m curious if there was a similar battle in the early days of ICE, where gasoline vehicles could only go to certain gas stations that had the correct type of nozzle?

Torque
Torque
1 year ago

In the earliest days of ICE vehicles there were no gas stations. You would have had to go to a local ‘Chemist’ i.e. a drug store to get your refined spirits that could power your abominimal horse less carriage

Taco Shackleford
Taco Shackleford
1 year ago

Question about the NACS change I haven’t seen any one else discuss:
I recently got a 2019 E-golf with DC fast charging. I have seen NACS to CCS adapters, but none seem to use the DC fast charging portion. Will DC fast charging speeds be available to older cars through the tesla network, or are they stuck at level 2 speeds?

Root
Root
1 year ago

I’d like to hear more about experiences comparing Tesla’s network with others. I’ve heard the connector is more reliable and easier to use (it looks like it’s smaller), and the billing/communication is more streamlined.

BolognaBurrito
BolognaBurrito
1 year ago
Reply to  Root

As much as I like to rag on Tesla, their charging network is supposedly by far the best in the US.

RidesBicyclesButLovesCars
RidesBicyclesButLovesCars
1 year ago
Reply to  Root

I tried to charge my Tesla at a CCS station two days ago with the Lectron CCS to Tesla adapter. Two of the four stations were powered down. The one I tried kept failing to initialize. It was a “while I’m here at 55%” charge and not necessary so I didn’t try the last station.

My wife and I have completed 15 supercharging stops in the past two weeks while road tripping. 100% first time success rate with great charging speeds. The car was ready before we were all but one time. Tesla navigation tells you when you have enough charge to continue to the next waypoint. It usually charges you enough to arrive at the next stop with ~15-20% charge remaining. Some stops were only five minutes!

BentleyBoy
BentleyBoy
1 year ago

That has been my experience with the Tesla superchargers they just work. I hope that the other OEMs switching to Tesla type chargers will not cause immense traffic jams at the supercharging stations.

Fuzzyweis
Fuzzyweis
1 year ago
Reply to  Root

For fast charging NACS is smaller as it has 5 pins vs 7 on CCS chargers. CCS has 2 larger pins for AC charging and 2 different large pins for DC charging, NACS re-uses it’s 2 large pins for AC/DC and just has the electronics work out if it’s getting Level 2 or fast charging.

As for billing/communication, that’s all handled via the app/communication with the car, no walking up to a possibly not working kiosk to swipe a card or interact with, so their chargers are more streamlined and less complication means more reliability.

Tesla built the whole thing how they wanted to work with their cars, so one issue is Superchargers generally have very short cables as all Teslas have their charging ports in the back driver’s tail light, and as they designed chargers for only Teslas, they have short cables with parking spaces lined up for them to reach the back tail light fine, most other companies do not have that configuration. Newer chargers are being designed more flexibly, but for a lot of older ones you still may not be able to charge just for the simple fact of you can’t reach your port with a Tesla plug.

A lot more nuances like that, but yeah Tesla built it to work and it does, and they built 7,000 of the dang things all on their lonesome. Imagine if the other car makes had gone in with them at the beginning with the same standard and helping built out more even if just at various dealerships that already exist, charging infrastructure would barely have been a talking point.

Harmanx
Harmanx
1 year ago
Reply to  Root

It’s definitely smaller — both the connector and the cable. Unlike CCS, it doesn’t require two hands to wrestle with it. The challenge they’re probably working to solve is the charge port location issue. The current stations assume the port is rear-left — as all Teslas have it — thus they’ve always had short cables. Many other EVs have ports elsewhere. The interim adapters will likely solve this by including a length of cable. (Perhaps Ford, GM, Rivian, etc. will move their ports rear left [front right would work also] when they integrate NACS ports.)

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