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Rivian just got access to Tesla’s Supercharger network, but without this key feature

Published Mar 19th, 2024 10:46AM EDT
Rivian R1T at a Tesla Supercharger station
Image: Rivian

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We already knew that Rivian would be gaining access to the Tesla Supercharger network in March, but it is still exciting to see them actually launch the compatibility and see it in action. However, if you have a Supercharging Membership with Tesla, your experience is actually worse than someone without one.

Yesterday, Rivian and Tesla announced that Rivian vehicles are now officially compatible with the Tesla Supercharging network. This has been a long time coming, and Rivian has become the second automaker to gain access to the network after Ford which gained access for the Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning earlier this year.

While Rivian vehicles were technically able to charge at some Tesla Supercharging stations, it required owners to find a station with the company’s Magic Dock and also handle the charging through the Tesla app. Now, Rivian owners just need a CCS to NACS adapter — which Rivian is sending out to R1T and R1S owners for free in April — and they’ll be able to plug into over 15,000 Superchargers across North America.

Because we handle our charging hardware and software in-house, we can seamlessly integrate most fast chargers — including the Supercharger network — into our charging ecosystem. Our unified digital platforms make it easy to transition between our mobile app and in-vehicle infotainment. This allows Rivian owners to enjoy an end-to-end experience where they can do their trip planning, filter chargers, set route preferences, navigate, and add stops without missing a beat.

CCS to NACS adapter for Rivian.

Rivian says that this is in addition to 16,000 other public chargers that its vehicles already have access to with brands like Electrify America, EVgo, and more. The company also says that it will be opening up its own charging network, the Rivian Adventure Network, to other electric vehicles “later this year.”

What’s the charging experience like?

Not only does the move give Rivian owners access to a heck of a lot more chargers, but the charging experience at a Tesla Supercharger station is getting much easier as well. Instead of having to use the Tesla app, the adapter lets you simply plug in and charge. No Tesla app or Tesla account is required — Rivian and Tesla handle the integration and payment through your Rivian account for you.

Compatible Superchargers will show up in Rivian navigation when you are planning trips, with charger speeds and availability information listed. You’ll also be able to “plug and charge” with automatic billing. Simply plug the charger into the vehicle and charging will begin automatically without having to pull up an app.

That sounds great, right? Just pull up, connect your adapter, and plug in. But wait. What if you have a Supercharging Membership, Tesla’s subscription service that gets non-Tesla owners the same price for charging at a Supercharger as Tesla owners? The subscription costs $12.99 per month and, if you end up charging at a Supercharger enough, it could save you some money compared to paying the non-Tesla price.

Tesla Superchargers are accessible by Rivian vehicles.

However, if you have a Supercharging Membership, you won’t currently get that plug-and-charge experience. You’ll still need to set up your charging session through Tesla’s app in order to get that reduced charging price. That makes things a little less efficient than the non-member experience — a bit of a surprising move since you’d think that Tesla would want to make the experience just as good for its paying members. Hopefully, Tesla and Rivian will figure that out soon.

Out of Spec Reviews was able to get their hands on an adapter early and showed what the charging experience is like. It’s very smooth:

Tesla says that over 15,000 of its chargers will work with EVs that have a supported NACS adapter. While Ford and Rivian are the first brands to get access, Tesla says that it will be expanding access to the following automakers this spring:

  • General Motors
  • Volvo
  • Polestar

Since the charging port on all of these EVs is located in different spots on the vehicle, one non-Tesla EV may end up taking up two spaces, causing confusion on how many Superchargers are actually available. Thankfully, Tesla’s latest V4 Superchargers have longer charging cables to account for this, but it will make some situations a little awkward as we go through this transition.

Until the automakers make the switch to NACS on all of their future vehicles, which most are doing in 2025, we’ll be living in the world of the EV dongle for charging. We’ve already gotten used to living in dongle land with our smartphones, so we should be able to handle this one as well!

I certainly won’t be complaining about needing a free adapter to get access to 15,000 more chargers. I might actually consider renting a Rivian on my next trip as long as an adapter is included with the rental.

Joe Wituschek Tech News Contributor

Joe Wituschek is a Tech News Contributor for BGR.

With expertise in tech that spans over 10 years, Joe covers the technology industry's breaking news, opinion pieces and reviews.