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Tesla technology inches closer to becoming industry standard as Rivian joins its charging network

DETROIT (AP) — Electric vehicle maker Rivian says it will follow General Motors and Ford and join Tesla’s charging network next year.

In this file photo, a 2023 R1T pickup truck is charged in a bay at a Rivian delivery and service centre on February 8 in Denver. PHOTO: AP

The startup truck, SUV and delivery van maker said on Tuesday that like GM and Ford, it also will adopt Tesla’s charging connector, another step toward making it the industry standard.

Existing Rivian vehicles will need an adapter to link to a Tesla charger. But Rivian says vehicles manufactured in 2025 and beyond will come standard with a Tesla charging port.

It is another domino to fall as the auto industry considers switching to Tesla’s connector, which it calls the North American Charging Standard. At present, nearly all automakers other than Tesla use what is called a CCS connector developed with the Society of Automotive Engineers.

Tesla’s Superchargers are coveted by other automakers because it has more direct current fast-charging plugs in the US than any other network, and its stations are in prime locations along freeway travel corridors.

Other automakers also are looking into the switch. On Monday, Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said his company’s US teams are studying the change and will make a decision in a few weeks.

“We right now are evaluating that possibility,” Tavares said in a brief interview with The Associated Press. “It can have good things and bad things.”

He said the good things are being evaluated, and the bad things include dependence on Tesla.

Currently Stellantis, formerly Fiat Chrysler, has no fully electric vehicles on sale in the US, but it does sell three plug-in gas-electric hybrids that can go short distances on battery power. The company plans to sell an electric commercial van this year, followed by an electric Ram pickup and other vehicles.

Rivian is a relatively small player in the US automotive market, selling just under 30,000 vehicles from 2021 through the first quarter of this year. But the Irvine, California, company is viewed as a key Tesla competitor.

Like GM and Ford, Rivian owners will get access to more than 12,000 Tesla Supercharger plugs. In the US, Tesla has 1,797 Supercharger stations and more than 19,000 plugs, according to the Department of Energy.

Since the stations are direct current fast-chargers, they can charge EVs relatively quickly as people travel.

ChargePoint has the biggest charging network in the US with more than 32,000 stations and 55,000 plugs, but most of them are Level 2 chargers that can take up to eight hours to get a battery up to a full charge.

The Energy Department says there are about 54,000 public charging stations nationwide with more than 136,000 plugs. While most are slower Level 2 chargers, the network of DC fast chargers is growing.

Still, industry analysts say there is growing momentum to switch to Tesla’s connector to become the standard in the US, although vehicles likely will need to be able to use both connectors for a while.

GM and Ford say they’re not paying Tesla anything for access to the network, but owners will pay Tesla to charge just like any other charging system.

Rivian said in a statement that in addition to joining Tesla’s network, it will continue to expand its own charging system, where it will incorporate Tesla’s connector.

Shares of Tesla closed Tuesday up 5.3 per cent. They’re up about 40 per cent since Ford first announced it would join the charging network on May 25.

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