Six Months With an EV

Way back in December of last year (2023) we posted an article on our blog titled “It’s Electric!“. At the time, it was about the latest addition to our fleet, which also happened to be our first electric vehicle(EV). This particular vehicle is a beautiful Rivian R1S which was added as an additional SUV to our existing fleet of Mercedes-Benz GLS 450s (our standard SUV offering before the R1S). The article was a mix of an announcement, a little excitement over the new and beautiful vehicle, and a fair airing of the concerns and/or challenges that come or may come from adding an EV to the fleet. I felt like it was a decent article when I wrote it but was shocked at the responses and, quite frankly, the number of people who viewed/read the article. We are just a small, literal “Mom-and-Pop”, transportation company located in Western North Carolina. On a good day we might see 40-50 visitors to our website looking for transportation services in the area. However, this particular article has been read over 20,000 times in the past 6 months! It is the highest interactive post we have ever experienced receiving the most comments out of anything else we have ever posted on the website. Most of the comments have been from other Rivian owners, folks who are waiting for a Rivian they have on order, or those who are on the fence and considering ordering a Rivian for themselves. Whatever the reason, we loved the interest and cherished the genuine interaction of people excited about their Rivian. It has been a wonderful experience! So with all of that being said, I figured it would be nice to post an update after we have actually had some time to drive and use the Rivian. Next week will be our 6 month anniversary of owning our Rivian so why not post an update? Here we go…

The Rivian R1S
The Rivian Hood Ornament

The Quick Summary…

If you read no further in this article, you need to know two things but first you need to understand our perspective. We are a transportation company. We bought our Rivian R1S to work it and generate income for our company. Van in Black is the highest rated transportation provider in Western North Carolina and we pride ourselves on providing quality and luxurious transportation to Western North Carolina and the the Upstate of South Carolina. We also do things a little bit different than most of the other transportation providers in the area. I may be wrong, but I believe we were the first transportation provider in the area to have an electric vehicle option in our fleet. I would even venture to say that we were probably the first transportation provider in the state to offer the Rivian R1S as a bookable transportation option. We don’t always follow the traditional molds or paradigms that have been set by other transportation companies. Our Rivian R1S, quite frankly, was a bit of a gamble for us. We purchased this vehicle in 2020 and waited three years before we were able to take delivery of it, having no idea how it would be received in the marketplace. The year 2020 was also right in the middle of the COVID pandemic so we actually had no idea if we were even going to be around as a company when our delivery date arrived. It was a time of uncertainty to be sure. That day, obviously, did come and we took delivery of our Rivian R1S on the last day of November in 2023. So how did that gamble work out? Six months later we are back to the two things you need to take away if you read no further in this article. We still love our Rivian and our customers love our Rivian too!

Customer Love…

The general feedback we get from our customers is that they love the vehicle. Some love the option of booking an electric vehicle, while some just love the Rivian, and some are both (they love the EV option and the specific vehicle!). And what is there not to love about this thing? As stated in the original article we published when we purchased our Rivian, it is a wonderful vehicle. The interior is super nice, it is packed with nice features, it has an awesome sound system, and a ginormous 835 horses under the hood (do you still say that with EVs…”Under the hood?“). It is also a beautiful vehicle to look at from the outside. To geek out for quick a second…The unique headlights make it super nice coordinating airport pickups with customers as they can easily tell who you are as you approach for curb-side pickup. Yeah, it is a lot of little things like this that make the Rivian R1S a great vehicle for our customers. They absolutely love it!

Van in Black Love…

As you can probably guess from everything you have read thus far, we love our Rivian R1S. We could probably just end this paragraph right there but it is worth mentioning that our chauffeurs also love the Rivian R1S. Right now, it is by far the favorite among our chauffeurs and everyone who gets assigned a run with this vehicle has a happy day. It is such a fun car to drive!

We Love Our Rivian!
The green Carolina countryside reflecting in the paint of our Rivian R1S!

Since this is a business vehicle and now part of our fleet, there is more to consider than just the love of driving the Rivian R1S. As a business owner, we also love the lower cost of operating and maintenance that comes with owning an EV. Yes, I know that eventually the batteries will need to be replaced and that will most likely be a costly endeavor. However, that is likely at least 8-10 years in the future (or more) and the technology will change, improve, and become cheaper over time. In the meantime, I can honestly state that energy (e.g. fuel) is a lot less expensive on an EV and the only fluid I have to worry about changing (or topping off) is my wiper fluid. It is also not likely that I will be changing brake pads anytime in the near future due to the single-pedal driving (regenerative braking) associated with EVs. I would also like to add a special shout-out to the frunk! There is so much space and it’s a cool talking point.

From Van in Black’s perspective, there’s LOTS of love to go around for our Rivian!

What About the Dirt? The Challenges?

Surely there have been some negatives with owning/operating an EV. What about those you ask? For this I will refer back to my earlier statement about perspective. You have to remember that we are coming to this as a commercial vehicle operator. Many of the “known” EV challenges like range, charging times, etc. we knew about when we took this gamble and either decided that they were worth it or that they didn’t apply to us. I would say that most of them don’t apply to us. We have honestly not run into any range issues at all using the Rivian in a commercial capacity. All of the runs that we assign with this vehicle are well calculated up-front and fall well within the range limits of the batteries. This hasn’t been too difficult for us to manage and the level 2 charger that we have installed at the office has been able to keep up with the demand. This has been true even when we have back to back bookings in the Rivian we have time overnight to charge the vehicle to the recommended capacity limit the night before. While we would like to see more level 3 chargers in our area there are still enough, that should they be needed, we feel like we could quickly add capacity using one of these level 3 chargers along our route. So the range challenges haven’t really been a big issue for us. I could see how this might be an issue for someone who was using this vehicle personally for long range travel, but for us this is a non-issue. I will say, however, that some of the level 3 chargers out there are amazing. I recently plugged into one in Charlotte, North Carolina that was charging at a rate of 520 miles per hour. That is very impressive! I would just like to see more fast charging stations in rural areas between the larger cities.

Other than the typical range and battery concerns that everyone already knows about with EVs, I would have to say that after six months with our Rivian, I have no other issues that have come up. So for those that were hoping to get some more dirt on EVs, I am sorry, you are not going to get it here.

The Summer of Love!

In summary, as we approach the summer of 2024, I expect to have “the summer of love” with our Rivian R1S. A summer of love for everyone who is lucky enough to experience the R1S in our fleet, either as a chauffeur or one of our lucky, forward thinking clients. At some point in the future we will be adding more EV’s to our fleet and I can confidently state that decision is largely based on our current experience with our Rivian R1S. In the meantime, you can book a wine tour, airport shuttle, or wedding transportation in our electric SUV and experience it for yourself!

Avatar for Ryan Watts

I am the founder of Van in Black. I also started HD Carolina (the first Carolina themed channel on Roku and Amazon Fire TV) and several other service based companies located in North Carolina. I am also a musician, photographer, wine geek (WSET Level 3 in Wines Certified with merit and Level 1 with the Court of Master Sommeliers), computer nerd, and lover of all things cool. Most importantly, however, I am a husband, father, and very proud (newly minted) grandfather.

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