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Exclusive: Rivian to sell "carbon neutral" add-on with electric trucks

Illustration of three EV chargers forming a recycling symbol.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Rivian plans to begin selling a carbon neutral add-on with its luxury electric pickups and SUVs, CEO RJ Scaringe tells Axios.

Why it matters: The automaker is tapping into drivers' guilt around their carbon footprint to generate fresh revenue streams in the expensive electric vehicle industry.

Driving the news: Rivian this afternoon is announcing a commitment to buy 100 MW from an enormous planned solar plant in Kentucky.

  • The automaker plans to use renewable energy credits generated by that plant to support a "carbon neutral" option it'll sell to customers.

Big picture: "Eventually this will be bundled with every Rivian sale. To start, this will be a package that’s going to be available with the vehicle," Scaringe says.

Of note: The solar plant is expected to begin generating electricity in 2027. It's being developed by BrightNight, an independent power producer based in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Catch up fast: It's impossible to track how individual electrons flow across an electric grid. So companies rely on renewable energy credits, or RECs, to represent the low-carbon power they're buying.

Zoom in: Building electric cars has proved enormously expensive, and automakers are racing to unlock new revenue streams, such as by tying certain features to subscription pricing.

  • Rivian's approach is among the more unorthodox — and squarely focused on clean energy.

Be smart: The automaker is taking a page from airlines that offer optional carbon-offsets to guilt-ridden fliers.

What we're watching: "We see a wide range of really interesting business opportunities that exist when you take a broader, more holistic view of the electric system," Scaringe says.

  • "Coordinating or aggregating usage around time of day, or coordinating and aggregating distributed storage, or coordinating and aggregating the use of renewable energy."
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