Andrew Hawkins, reporting for The Verge:

Rivian is pushing a new software update that will give its customers better insight into which EV chargers to visit — and which to avoid…

“Our North Star is charging and trip planning in EVs should just work,” Wassym Bensaid, Rivian’s head of software, told The Verge. “You should not think about it.”

I had the chance to test out Rivian’s new software update during a recent road trip in an R1S SUV. Inputing a destination brought up dozens of chargers on the vehicle’s navigation, each of which displayed a letter grade. An “A” grade is a sign that the charger was in good working condition, while an “F,” well, speaks for itself.

“Surprisingly, actually, there’s multiple chargers rated F,” Bensaid said. “That was one of the ‘a ha’ moments as we went through the data.”

The new ranking system is determined by a host of data collected by Rivian’s customers, Bensaid said. Each vehicle is connected and constantly sending data back to the company’s headquarters, which then gets processed to remove “noise” that’s not essential to the decision-making algorithm.

This is extremely clever. While Tesla Superchargers are notoriously reliable and display stall information in Tesla vehicles’ infotainment systems, that functionality isn’t available for other electric vehicle manufacturers to integrate themselves, even though Rivian and other automakers have recently opened support for Tesla Superchargers, working with Tesla to develop adapters for their vehicles. (Rivian’s integration launched in March.) This new Rivian software feature, however, not only adds reliability information to the map in the vehicle itself from Tesla Superchargers, but also collects information from other brands, like Electrify America, the United States’ largest DC fast charging network outside of Tesla’s Superchargers.

Electrify America stalls are often plagued with reliability issues, and Electrify America itself doesn’t have the ability to monitor how its chargers are operating. The only way for customers to check if an Electrify America unit is functioning is to drive to one and hope for the best. Rivian’s new software system will automatically collect analytics from the chargers whenever a Rivian driver charges at one; after enough users have charged at a destination, results will appear for all other drivers through Rivian’s in-car map. While this information isn’t real-time, per se, unlike Tesla’s feature which automatically notifies drivers if a stall is broken, it is better than going to a charger without knowing anything about its reliability.

Hawkins points out that this software is limited due to how few Rivian cars traverse the roads of the United States, which is somewhat detrimental to the usefulness of the feature. Underused chargers located in rural areas are significantly less likely to ever be touched by a Rivian driver, let alone however many it requires for the software to begin calculating reliability information for it, so only busy chargers in metropolises will benefit from the software update. I still think that is better than nothing, but it also adds pressure on Electrify America and ChargePoint, another EV charger brand, to add public uptime data via an application programming interface or integrations with carmakers for them to integrate the statistics into their vehicles.