There are many ways tho advocate for electric vehicle adoption – awareness (Elon Musk is the reigning champ of this tactic), incentives and rebates (who doesn’t like a good deal) and test drives (so as to dispel the “golf cart” fallacy). But the single most effective way of influencing car shoppers to consider an EV is to document a road trip.
Why? An electric vehicle road trip encompasses everything one needs to know about EV adoption. How does one manage the process of range with finding and using EV charging stations? Is the tech in an EV really that far ahead of an ICE vehicle? Does an electric car drive differently in an unmanageable way?
One of the best electric vehicle road trip breakdowns CER has ever seen was documented by a Rivian owner on the Rivian subreddit by hungarianhc. Enjoy…
Posted with permission by hungarianhc
I have NEVER driven a more fun car in my life. Charging was a fun experience, and it never messed w/ our road trip. We were on a road trip with six people (me, wife, 17 year old, 7 year old, 5 year old, 2 year old). We had the trunk full with suitcases, the frunk was filled w/ stuff, and our roofbox had snow skis / boots (Mammoth in July!), a bunch of bags, life vests, a stroller, etc. All this meant that we didn’t have to pack any of our stuff around people’s legs. Everyone sat extremely comfortably. The 17 year old said the second row experience was one of the best he’s had in a car. Our 7 / 5 year old didn’t complain about the 3rd row. They were both in car seats. The car is a monster. It handled roads like Sonora Pass better than any gas car I’ve ever driven. SUPER excited to be an R1S owner.
- Redwood City, CA to Bakersfield, CA (charging stop in Santa Nella Shell EVGo and Lost Hills Electrify America)
- Bakersfield, CA to Las Vegas, NV (charging stop at Barstow RAN. Filled up at Forum Shops Electrify America while kids were in the arcade)
- Las Vegas, NV to Laughlin, NV (no high speed charging in Laughlin, but got an overnight L2 charge at Pioneer hotel)
- Laughlin, NV to Mammoth Lakes, CA (charging stops at Najah’s Dessert Oasis, Barstow RAN, Inyokern RAN, and Bishop RAN. Najah / Inyokern were super quick stops. Barstow and Bishop were fill-ups over lunch / dinner)
- Mammoth Lakes, CA to Redwood City, CA (overnight L2 charge at Mammoth hotel, left full and charged in Manteca RAN)
- I felt the range estimates were always super accurate.
- I used the PlugShare app (maybe not needed for Tesla owners) just to check non-Rivian high speed chargers before I showed up to make sure they were all cranking. If you’re driving a non-Tesla EV, I feel like this app is a must-have. Every time I read the disappointed charger posts here, I believe 100% of them could be avoided by checking Plugshare first. Is it a shame that we need to check before we go? Sure, I guess. 95% of my charging will be at home so I don’t see this as a big deal. Also, over time as we get more charging, this will become less of an issue.
- I had 100% success rate w/ high speed chargers. No BS. Part of this is probably because I checked PlugShare before any non-RAN charging stop.
- When we left Las Vegas for Laughlin, this was the spot I was the most nervous about regarding range, as there were no high speed chargers in Laughlin, extremely limited L2 charging, and I had to plan to drive to the lake every day, and then have enough juice to get out of Laughlin. Upside surprise: Pioneer (hotel across the street from mine in Laughlin) installed L2 charging, so I was able to charge overnight one night, and that’s just like getting a free tank of gas, which is amazing.
- The Rivian Adventure Network chargers are great. Right now they peak at like 208kW, but allegedly it’ll get upgraded to 300kW, but we’ll see. Not holding my breath.
- If I had one thing that disappointed me with high speed charging, it’s how little time the car was able to maintain peak kW. Everyone says these things “fast charge to 80%.” I mean kinda… If you consider 50kW fast, then yes. You’ll be up at 196kW or whatever, and then all of a sudden 150, then 100. It didn’t matter that much for us, since we timed meals and bio break / snack stops with charging, but yea it’s real.
- Going from Laughlin to Mammoth was fun, Rivian Adventure Network chargers the whole way up 395, so free electricity (they’ll charge money at some point)!
- Then in Mammoth, the hotel again had free L2 charging so it was nice to juice up for free before we left.
- I did use the 110V charging in Mammoth as well. If we just went for a little drive to town in a day or something, I’d just plug in the mobile charger, and after 12 hours or so, I’d replace the range I lost.
- Cost: I think we paid about $140 in electricity for this whole trip, which is crazy. Obviously this would be more if RAN were charging.
- Charging stations don’t have squeegees and water! Tough to keep the windshield visible on road trips without that!
- Split tailgate is an amazing changing table for babies. We have 3 kids, and our youngest one is 2 years old, so we only have like 6 months of diapers left, and this might sound silly, but in our Hyundai Palisade, if the trunk was full, there was no place to change the baby if we pulled over on the road. We’d have to awkwardly use the front seat. With the rear here, easy changing table built in.
- This frunk is HUGE. We put two suitcases in it, a backpack, and a bunch of other things. Like… This is a game changer for those considering Rivian vs other similar sized SUVs. I grew up in a family w/ a Suburban, and my brother has one. With all 3 rows for seating, does it have more cargo space? Sure. It does… but man it’s really not as that big of a difference if you use the frunk for storage.
- The all screen / no physical controls experience was actually pretty nice. I thought I’d miss knobs more than I actually did. I also love the way the navigation integrates with both the screen behind the steering wheel and the main display. It’s very elegant the way the speed limit is displayed prominently right in the middle of the steering wheel display.
- Cruise Control: Everyone complains about it here, but it worked great for me. Set the speed with the left / right click. Set your preferred distance from the car in front of you with the scroll wheel.
- Steering wheel buttons / knobs: I love that it’s the same on both sides. A left right clicker, and an up / down scroll wheel. In the future, I look forward to Rivian letting us re-map these buttons or do something else. I find it much more elegant than a hardcoded button like I had in my old car, wasting buttons on things I never use.
- General zip: Even when traveling in Conserve mode on a road trip, this thing rips. Fast acceleration can be useful on road trips to pass someone on the highway. If you don’t have juice, the lane changes can take longer and be less safe. I loved how fast this car went to change lanes.
- Navigation (also a downside): Okay I LOVE how ABRP is integrated into the app already. SO cool! Going to a Rivian Adventure network charger? Just use the app quickly, find it, and then click the “send to rivian” button and boom it’s on your screen in the car. This kind of integration would be pretty tough w/ CarPlay, and I thought it was incredibly well done. Will also automatically condition the battery for you if you’re going to a high speed charger. Great work. I also like the look of the maps. I do miss CarPlay, but I don’t really miss Apple / Google maps, until Rivian give me a bone-headed nav move to make, but that was pretty rare. I’m generally happy here, and I know it’ll get better over time.
- USB-C ports: I figured that since this is a 2023 vehicle, and it has electricity to spare, Id get 30W or 60W USB-C PD ports in the car. Nope. They’re 15W. If you have a phone, great. That’s a fast charge. If you have a laptop / iPad Pro, they can’t keep up. Super disappointing. Yes there are 110V ports, but c’mon… that’s not the point w/ USB-C. I’m also surprised there aren’t more ports. I think the back seats are fine. If you’re in the middle, you have four total. That’s great. If you’re in the 3rd row, there’s two total. Nice. If you’re in the front, there are only two, and they are inside the center console. Have an SSD plugged in for camera footage? Now you literally have a single USB port in the front. That’s crazy and actually BEHIND what you could get years ago in other cars. Obviously we know the Rivian wireless charger is literally the worst wireless charger ever, and I’m going to replace it with the s00nish mod soon. So once this happens, then I think it will be fair to say that I have my phone charging taken care of, and then a single extra USB port in the front seat that I could use, as one of my USB-C ports will be taken up by an SSD. So yeah… I just find it pretty weak.
- Wind noise w/ a roof box: I know some people talk about there being a fair amount of wind noise in the Rivian. Okay sure. There’s a bit more than I’d like, but it’s not too bad. Put a roof box on the top? Wow. That’s loud! It’s not a huge issue for me, as especially with the frunk, I don’t think we’ll need the roofbox as often as we did w/ our Palisade before.
- Sensor accuracy: I’ve never owned a car that showed all the cars around me like a Rivian / Tesla does. It’s very cool! The problem is that it doesn’t work for cars to the left / right of you or behind you. I think this is a safety issue. Why? The issue is that my screen is showing me cars all around me. I can either trust that data or not trust the data. If I trust the data, then I should be able to use the left / right car information to make lane changes. Or… I can not trust the data, which is the right thing to do, because the data is wrong. I HOPE this is a software issue, and not something that has to do with sensor placement on the vehicle, because I’m sure they’ll fix this in the future. My Hyundai Palisade would show me a camera on the dash when I’d turn my blinker on to change lanes. It was great for checking my blind spot. The Rivian is basically the worst case here. There’s no camera, and the sensor shows that I’m clear, but of course if I turn my head to verify, which is of course the safe move, I see that there’s a car there. I hope this can be fixed. I found the screen showing cars in front of me to be surprisingly accurate. It’s really nice.
- Lane Assist: This feature just flat out doesn’t work in the best case, and in the worst case, it’s dangerous. The goal is to keep you centered in the lane, which sounds good to me. The problem: If you go by a big truck in the lane next to you, that triggers something, and then the feature turns off, but instead of turning off, I think it must trigger some kind of “you’re too close” event and it wiggles you away from the car. It’s super distracting. I tried it multiple times with the same effect every single time on the trip. Hot garbage.
- Air conditioning fan: I understand this pertains to extreme heat, and I don’t live in extreme heat, but I do want the car to work well in this temperature, but when it’s 110+ outside, the A/C fan is SO loud. Like. Wow. and it vibrates a lot. It vibrates the accelerator pedal to the point where it feels like my foot is going to fall asleep. It’s a borderline safety issue. Now again, this wasn’t too big of a deal for me, as
- Seat cooling: Does this actually work? With my Palisade, when I’d turn it on, my butt would all of a sudden get cold. When it’s 100+ outside, this is my desired effect! With the Rivian seat cooler on, I MAYBE notice something? Not sure.
- Random quirk: The car is telling me we’re out of wiper fluid. I mean… I’ve owned it for like 14 days now, and it hasn’t rained… so either the sensor is busted or they gave it to me low.
- 110V charging reporting accuracy: I totally get that this is essentially trickle charging, but it can be useful. For example, in Mammoth Lakes, we mostly took public transit, walked, etc, so we kept our car parked at the hotel most of the time, but if we went to lunch in the car or something like that, we could just plug it into a 110V outlet, and by the next day, it would be refilled. The problem is that the display in the app isn’t accurate. For example, it’ll say I’m charging at 1 mi / hour, but if I have 3 miles to be full, after 3 hours, it won’t show my car as full. Okay no big deal. But then I unplug the charger, and boom, the miles appear, and it shows me full. Just didn’t make sense. I found L2 / DC high speed charging to always be accurate.
- Navigation (also a positive): I generally don’t care too much about nav. just take me there, and I’m good to go, but there were at least two times on the trip when the navigation had me do the most ridiculous things. One time in Vegas, it had me get off the freeway just to get right back on… an there was no freeway traffic to avoid. It just made zero sense. Later that night in Vegas, instead of getting on an onramp, it had me go under a freeway, make a u-turn, and then get on the same onramp that I could have just normally gotten on. This isn’t a huge deal, but it’s absolutely one of those things that wouldn’t happen if I had CarPlay back.
- Lack of CarPlay: Yeah I mean we all know this already, but it’s just not awesome to lose CarPlay. My wish is that Rivian lets us run it in a small window, because I do really like the Rivian user interface for the whole vehicle. I don’t even need Google Maps. I like the Rivian nav, but for media, I’m so limited. It was a big step back to have to use Bluetooth for my podcasts in Overcast. Sure it has Spotify, but the Rivian Spotify experience is a lot worse than the CarPlay spotify experience. Also, using Siri when your phone is connected is crappy, as you see the phone call screen come up on the Rivian screen. I also miss the MyQ garage integration.
- Lack of MyQ garage integration: My garage doesn’t work well w/ normal clickers or integration w/ cars. However, I do have it set up with MyQ for Siri access with my phone, and that works perfectly. With my old car, I could drive home, and one block away, I could push a button on my CarPlay screen, and it worked. My garage opening / closing experience is back to being garbage w/ the R1S.
Clubs I didn’t realize I joined:
- The EV club: If you brush shoulders with an EV owner when you’re both getting into your cars, it turns out you give each other an assuring nod.
- The Non-Tesla EV club: When charging at an Electrify America station, it’s common to discuss why you picked your non-Tesla EV. Problem with Elon? Does the Tesla line-up not serve your needs? Do you just want to be different? Are you too exclusive for a Tesla? Whatever it is, it’s to be discussed. Also, it’s clear that Nissan Leaf owners aren’t really counted in this club. They just get funny looks.
- The Rivian Club: When we drive past each other, we wave. I have tried to convince my wife that the proper “Rivian salute” is to stick two fingers in your nose so the other driver knows that you know… she is, unfortunately, not this gullible. So we wave back… and after a long road trip, sometimes we even wave first. Now… should you happen to be parked next to a fellow Rivian owner, simply a wave will not do. A full-on Rivian bro-down must ensue. “Dude, that color is sick.” “Bro, your color was actually my first choice.” “Aw your SUV is so awesome!” “Man, I wish I could get that truck!”
- The Hated by Randoms Club: I had a couple people come up to me and make anti-EV comments. Aside from being rude, it’s just weird. But hey… America!