By going all-in on EVs from the start, Tesla has developed a significant lead on major automakers in terms of electric vehicle powertrain development and branding. But the company's biggest competitive advantage may be its Supercharger network: a global web of more than 20,000 fast charging points designed for Tesla vehicles.
Rivian is planning a network of 3,500 fast-charging sites at 600-plus locations by the end of 2023. Like the Tesla superchargers (at least until another carmaker takes up Elon Musk's offer to license access on a broad scale), these will be meant just for Rivian customers. They will start by offering 200-kW charging, enabling them to add up to 140 miles of range to the R1S and R1T in 20 minutes. Rivian says they will be powered by 100-percent renewable energy and located near shops and restaurants.
Rivian also plans to add 10,000 Rivian Waypoints that offer Level 2 charging and will be open to the general electric vehicle-owning public across the U.S. and Canada by the end of 2023. Rivian will also sell customers a Level 2 wall charger that can add up to 25 miles of range per hour and be rolled into the vehicle's cost.
For the most part, Rivian's map will mirror Tesla's, strategically located along major highways and in major metropolitan areas, with Tesla's coverage being a bit more extensive. It looks like Rivian may offer more coverage in some "adventurous" areas like Michigan's Upper Peninsula or some of the national forest areas in Colorado. (Indeed, Colorado has convinced the company to place some of them in its state parks, according to The Colorado Sun.)
The lack of charging infrastructure is one of the main hurdles to EV adoption, so more charging is good. That said, some form of industry-wide collaboration on fast-charging would ultimately be preferable to each manufacturer setting up its own ad hoc network.