Rivian joins GM, Ford in getting Tesla Supercharger access

The Rivian deal is the same as the agreement Tesla made over the last month with Ford and GM, which surprised industry observers since there was little sign that non-Tesla automakers were ready to abandon the CCS standard they have been using on their electric vehicles.

Tesla has the biggest fast-charge network in the US with over 17,000 individual chargers in the nationwide Supercharger network, according to iSeeCars. Charging networks using CCS, such as Electrify America and EVgo, have about 11,500 fast-chargers.

Tesla’s network has been rated as more reliable by independent studies and is growing significantly faster than competing networks. TeslaCEO Elon Musk has said Tesla is willing to open the Supercharger infrastructure to rivals in order to spur EV adoption, which will help all of the manufacturers.

Going mainstream?

Rivian is still a relatively small EV maker and had just 9,302 registrations for its high-end R1T pickup and R1S crossover in the January-April period, according to Experian. But the company is developing a more mainstream R2 platform for more inexpensive vehicles to be built at a future Georgia factory starting in 2026.

Rivian said in Tuesday’s press release that the R2 platform would incorporate the NACS standard, which is also being adopted by the makers of fast-charge equipment in order to supply non-Tesla charging networks.

Rivian also makes commercial vans for Amazon but doesn’t mention them in its press release on switching over to the NACS standard. Amazon has its own charging structure for the vans. Rivian said in an email the collaboration with Tesla is only for R1 and R2 vehicles.

While Tesla is giving up a key competitive advantage by sharing its superior charging network, some financial analysts have suggested that Tesla could turn charging into a bigger business. Tesla does not break out charging revenue currently as part of its earnings reports.

Ford announced its surprise Supercharger deal with Tesla in late May on Twitter, Musk’s social-media platform. Ford CEO Jim Farley joined Musk for the announcement.

“You and I have been talking about what we can do together to advance the industry and the customer experience,” Farley said to Musk. “It kind of became obvious to me the job your team has done and what it means for customers.”

GM followed with a similar announcement on Twitter Spaces between Musk and GM CEO Mary Barra.

Said Barra: “We have a real opportunity here to really drive this to be the unified standard for North America, which I think will even enable more mass adoption.”

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