Rivian R1S Owner Pays Sky-High Charging Fee, Teaches Us All a Free Lesson

Financing or leasing an electric vehicle (EV) can help drivers save money. Unless you're gunning for a Chevrolet Bolt or Tesla Model 3 RWD, buying one outright doesn't make financial sense because EVs are generally more expensive than their gas-powered counterparts. Charging your EV at home (preferably during off-peak hours) or at work can help bring down commuting costs. But when going on vacation, EV drivers must be mindful of DC fast chargers. This Rivian R1S customer shows why that's paramount.
Rivian R1S Fast Charging in Colorado 44 photos
Photo: Eric Regan on Facebook / PNGFind / autoevolution edit
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The automotive scenery is changing. Battery-electric vehicles like the Tesla Model Y, BYD Qin Plus, Volvo XC40, or the VW ID.3 are popular, and most carmakers are slowly yet surely moving onto a zero-tailpipe emission fleet strategy.

Even Lamborghini – the Italian brand known for its screaming V10s and V12s – is preparing to enter the EV space. The French hypercar manufacturer installing W16s engines – Bugatti – uses Rimac's expertise to do the same. Honda's luxurious division, Acura, joins the playing field with the GM-made and Mexican-built ZDX.

Despite all these frantic lineup changes at the most important car brands, some still believe the internal combustion engine will survive for decades.

But when we factor in the federal support for electrified vehicles, OPEC+'s shenanigans opposed by the US that make gas expensive everywhere, the fight against global warming, the automakers' efforts to lower their fleet-wide emissions, the race for driving automation, the high costs of producing plug-in hybrids as the intermediary step toward total electrification, the general disappointment surrounding uninspired downsizing, major motorsports moving to sustainable or renewable fuels and hybrid powertrains, and Tesla being the world's most valuable automaker

Mercedes\-AMG E63 S Wagon with Flamethrower Exhaust
Photo: Fi Exhaust/YouTube

Our new world

It doesn't take much to figure out that burning dead dinosaur juice for power will become a thing of the past.

And it should. Not because EVs are the most significant things ever or due to zero-tailpipe emission transportation being the best solution to global temperatures rising, no. It's the cartel-like approach some nations have taken toward oil production. They use fossil fuel energy to broaden their influence at a global scale or as a bargaining chip (sometimes even strongarming other nations). At the same time, consumers and businesses deal with increased costs because hauling goods and filling up a passenger car cost more and more.

On the other hand, electricity can be generated through renewable sources like solar, wind, and hydro. Even new nuclear power plants with a reasonably low carbon footprint can join the effort. Continuous investments in these sectors can make electricity cheaper and, at the same time, can contribute to the action of decarbonizing our societies.

Domestic electricity generation, good partnerships with neighboring countries for a fair integrated electricity market, and EVs with bidirectional charging (V2G) can create a world on the move where cars become a part of the grid and can help stabilize it.

Tesla Supercharger
Photo: Tesla
Thus, EV owners can be incentivized to replenish their vehicles' energy storage units when electricity production is off the charts (like on a windy or sunny day). This way, the power price doesn't drop to negative levels, and producers don't have to spend on complicated means to store energy. At the same time, owners of vehicles like the F-150 Lightning could power their homes in case of an outage.

What about that R1S and the lesson?

We digressed quite a bit. However, all these developments in the automotive industry and other interconnecting economic sectors dictate our lifestyle. Depending on the intensity of their carbon footprint, they can also impact our livelihoods.

But if these succinct arguments in favor of EVs seem too positive or wildly simplified, let's look at one of the most sought-after and arguably most important automobiles currently manufactured in the US and sold in North America – the Rivian R1S.

This three-row seven-seater vehicle comes with an EPA-rated range of 321 miles (when the large 135-kWh battery is equipped), four Bosch motors that give it 835 hp, 10 driving modes, impressive cargo room, and an off-road capacity for a production vehicle that's unmatched at the $92,000 price point by any other all-electric competitor.

Shall we add that it boasts a McLaren 720S-inspired air suspension system with a self-leveling function? Moreover, the automaker is in the midst of relaunching the coveted Camp Kitchen. Initially announced for the R1T pickup truck and canceled after some time, the feature might make a comeback and be available for the all-electric SUV as well.

Rivian R1S
Photo: Rivian
As such, it's becoming clear why Americans, Canadians, and even some courageous Europeans or Africans are willing to spend a pretty penny on an R1S.

Sadly, those ready to jump from fossil fuel-powered motoring to zero-tailpipe emission driving still have some challenges ahead of them. Good EVs are expensive. Registering them in states like Texas can carry a disheartening yearly fee, and insurance could charge an unexpected premium since some shop estimates for fixing a Rivian have included absurd figures – $42,000 for a dented rear bumper.

On top of that, the all-electric car sector is dealing with a significant change – the North American Charging Standard (NACS, Tesla's connector) is slowly replacing the CCS Combo 1. That means that Supercharger competitors must also install the NACS inlet if they want to remain competitive post-2025.

Locally clean road-tripping can be pricey when you're not paying attention

Besides that, DC fast charging has not been simplified everywhere yet. Owners are still required to use apps or be technologically savvy enough to set up functionalities like Plug & Play.

Volkswagen and Siemens invest in Electrify America
Since we're talking about mobile devices, software, and electricity, we know they're not infallible. When something fails, it could turn a 20-minute charging session into an hour-long frustrating experience.

Dieselgate-born Electrify America, for example, is well-known for not providing a reliable DC fast-charging experience.

But that doesn't mean you can't use an EV for long journeys today. There are a lot of options available. However, one must be cautious about the stall they're plugging into.

An R1S owner took advantage of their capable vehicle and planned an incursion into Colorado to explore the Mount Sherman Trail and the surrounding areas.

Wanting to add enough juice into the battery, they stopped to replenish in Buena Vista. According to PlugShare, there are four ChargePoint charging stations in the small town – three with Level 2 output and one being a Level 3 stall.

Tesla Supercharger
Photo: Tesla
Naturally, they went for the faster option: a ChargePoint unit dispensing energy at a maximum rate of 62.5 kW. By today's EV charging standards, that's low output. Superchargers boast speeds of 250 kW at V3 stalls, while some Electrify America chargers can dispense energy at a rate of 350 kW for vehicles with the 800V architecture.

The lesson

Sadly, the R1S owner did not check the fees before starting charging. They said the session cost almost $2 per kWh, which is earth-shatteringly expensive. Had this person charged from naught to 100%, they would have paid well over $270 for driving 320 miles.

Some energy is lost when fast-charging because the battery needs proper thermal management, while the charger must also cool the cabling.

The Charger in Question
Photo: PlugShare
This particular charger costs EV drivers $1.32 per kWh from 4 PM to 10 PM. The tariff does not include the sales, county, town, and town franchise taxes. Moreover, a $2 per hour parking fee is added to the bill after one hour of staying plugged in. Since the charger dispenses energy at a maximum rate of 62.5 kW, fully charging the R1S would have taken over two hours in ideal conditions.

As you may guess, this is not the only stall in the country with such absurd pricing. That's why always checking the charges before plugging in is vital. It would have been even better if this person had planned their charging strategy before reaching the destination.

Rivian has its own charging network, and a high-power station with multiple plugs is available just 20 miles from Buena Vista.

Ultimately, if you want to become an EV owner who won't spend absurd sums on fast charging, plan all your trips accordingly and check the prices through manufacturers' or third-party platforms before using any stall promising you electrons delivered fast.
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About the author: Florin Amariei
Florin Amariei profile photo

Car shows on TV and his father's Fiat Tempra may have been Florin's early influences, but nowadays he favors different things, like the power of an F-150 Raptor. He'll never be able to ignore the shape of a Ferrari though, especially a yellow one.
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