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Rivian to Install Electric Vehicle Chargers in Michigan State Parks as Part of a New Partnership

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【Summary】Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer was joined today by electric truck maker Rivian and state and local officials near the beaches of Lake Michigan at Holland State Park to celebrate the first opening of approximately 30 electric vehicle charging sites that will be installed at Michigan state parks over the next few years at part of a new collaboration.

Eric Walz    May 27, 2022 9:45 AM PT
Rivian to Install Electric Vehicle Chargers in Michigan State Parks as Part of a New Partnership

Electric truck maker Rivian is looking to move into the popular pickup truck and SUV segment that's currently dominated by gas-powered vehicles from Ford Motor Co, General Motors and Ram. Rivian is also marketing its electric trucks to adventure seekers that like to take their vehicles off-road.

In order to cater to these adventure-seeking customers, Rivian plans to install EV chargers at popular outdoor destinations throughout the U.S., such as state parks and trailheads, where EV charging infrastructure has been typically absent. Some of these new EV chargers will be installed in the state of Michigan as part of a new collaboration, right in the backyard of Rivian's closest competitors.

Today Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer was joined by Rivian, state and local officials and representatives from Adopt a Charger near the beaches of Lake Michigan at Holland State Park to celebrate the first opening of approximately 15 of the electric vehicle charging sites which will be installed at state parks and a state fish hatchery in Michigan over the next few years.

An estimated total of 30 Rivian Waypoint chargers are scheduled to be installed as part of the first phase of the project with the next installations beginning in the summer and continuing through the end of the year.

"This partnership to install charging stations in our state parks speaks to the collaborative approach we are taking to grow our economy and address climate change head-on through clean, reliable energy," said Governor Whitmer. "These charging stations along the Lake Michigan EV Circuit build on our rich Pure Michigan tradition of exploration and bringing together communities and businesses to ensure that we honor our past as the place that put the world on wheels and continue to invest in our workforce as we lead the transition to electric vehicles." 

The first two Rivian Waypoints chargers were unveiled today at the 142-acre state park in Ottawa County west of Grand Rapids, followed by an inaugural charge demonstration featuring a Rivian R1T pickup.

"We applaud the state for continuing to adopt policies that keep Michigan at the forefront of innovative electric mobility which is why we're proud to take our collaboration with the state up a notch today at Holland State Park," said Chris Nevers, Senior Director of Public Policy at Rivian. 

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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer with the first Rivian EV charger installed at Holland State Park. (Photo: WJRT-TV)

Under an operating agreement between Rivian, Adopt a Charger and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the stakeholders will provide open-network, Level-2 Rivian Waypoints chargers at no cost to the state or taxpayers. Rivian's Waypoint chargers are equipped with a standard J1772 plug, suitable for all electric vehicles including Rivian's R1T pickup and R1S SUV.

Adopt a Charger is a nonprofit organization and will provide technical, marketing and sponsorship support for the operation of the chargers throughout the duration of the agreement. 

"The Adopt a Charger goal is to enable zero emission tourism in Michigan, and inspire visitors of all ages to consider the impact of their decisions on the environment," said Kitty Adams Hoksbergen, executive director of Adopt a Charger. 

ITC, an electric transmission company, will provide the funding for the electrical use for two years. Michigan utility provider Consumers Energy is providing the funds to pay for power and infrastructure upgrades at state parks necessary for charger installation.

The rollout of the EV chargers across the state is being done in phases. State parks in the Upper Peninsula in Northern Michigan are scheduled to be part of the second phase, which is  expected to take place next year.

Future Rivian chargers will be installed at Warren Dunes State Park in the southwest corner of the Lower Michigan Peninsula, north along the popular Lake Michigan "gold coast" route and additional points inland in the state. 

"We applaud the state for continuing to adopt policies that keep Michigan at the forefront of innovative electric mobility which is why we're proud to take our collaboration with the state up a notch today at Holland State Park," said Chris Nevers, Senior Director of Public Policy at Rivian. "We're making this investment because we believe that exploring the natural world should be possible without contributing to local air pollution, climate change, or damaging the environment."

These future EV charger installations are delivering on the State of Michigan's announcement in 2021 of a "Lake Michigan EV circuit", an EV route with reliable charging options along Lake Michigan near popular tourism spots. The state says the project will create "the best new road-trip for EV owners in the U.S."

The Lake Michigan EV Circuit is part of the state's ongoing efforts to employ green technologies throughout the state, including solar-powered amenities.

One example of these efforts was the solar panels recently installed at Holland State Park by clean energy provider Utopian Power. The solar panels were installed on a building adjacent to the electric vehicle chargers and will provide power for some of the park functions.

To prepare Rivian customers looking to hit the road and trails in Michigan and in other states, last week Rivian announced a partnership with Utah-based non-profit organization "Tread Lightly!", which is working to promote responsible outdoor recreation through stewardship. 

The two companies are partnering to put trail stewardship at the center of the Rivian off-roading experience. The companies are working in collaboration to demonstrate how to "off-road responsibly" in an electric vehicle.

As part of the collaboration with Tread Lightly!, Rivian is building a team of "Master Tread Trainers" who are leading the company's efforts to educate its customers, community and employees about off-roading. This includes guidance for Rivian customers on how to travel responsibly on trails and other outdoors areas, respecting the rights of private property owners, stayin designated routes and avoiding sensitive areas such as meadows, lake shores, wetlands and streams. 

"Inspiring people to be adventurous while modeling actions that respect and maintain the environments where these vehicles go is critical as we all work together to ensure public lands are accessible now and for generations to come," said Matt Caldwell, Director of Tread Lightly!, when the collaboration was announced on May 18. 

The EV charger installations in Michigan will also help to promote tourism in the state, which was impacted by the pandemic of the past two years. Increased access to EV charging sites is one way to lure tourists back to Michigan, which for years has been a popular summer and fall destination.

These ongoing efforts are part of the state's "Pure Michigan" tourism campaign to help the industry recover, as well as to reduce range anxiety for out-of-state EV drivers from urban locations, such as Chicago and Milwaukee.

The tentative list of other EV charger installations at Michigan state parks for this year includes two Rivian Waypoints chargers at Warren Dunes, P.J. Hoffmaster, Charles Mears, Orchard Beach, Petoskey and Wilderness state parks. Holland and Grand Haven state parks will each get four EV chargers. 

"These EV chargers are an important way to encourage sustainable travel across our state, while sharing the tremendous beauty and recreation offered by our world class state parks here in Michigan," said Dave Lorenz, Vice President of Travel Michigan, which is part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). "As we encourage travelers to Pursue their Pure this summer, ensuring easy, reliable access to EV charging helps us continue to share these amazing opportunities with new travelers."

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