Rivian electric trucks’ battery packs are ready for harsh environments—and a second life

Rivian is different than any other electric-vehicle startup—primarily because of the way in which it aims to position its R1T pickup and R1S SUV to be lifestyle device, enabling adventure activities and weekend getaways.

In addition to normal day-to-day commuting conditions, weekends might involve hauling a lot of gear, towing boats or jet-skis, or even navigating rocky or muddy off-road trails.

For EV batteries, it’s an extreme test considering the range of temperatures, load levels, and potential shock and vibration they’re subjected to. And that’s before considering the rigors of more frequent fast-charging during those road trips and getaways—partly via a supplemental network of adventure-location fast-chargers to be built by the company.

It adds up to a mind-boggling range of use cases. And in order to adapt to very different patterns for driving and charging, Rivian is using a battery management system that can “learn” and enhance the life of the pack via real-time adjustments to a lot of control patterns. 

Rivian cooling plate between battery layers [from video]

Rivian cooling plate between battery layers [from video]

Rivian battery submodule [from video]

Rivian battery submodule [from video]

Rivian battery pack [from video]

Rivian battery pack [from video]

And for better thermal control, it’s packaging its cylindrical cells with a space-saving approach that hasn’t been used before—in two layers, with a cooling plate in the middle.

Rivian claims that it all comes through a very close understanding of the cell, which if it does things right, will never actually be pushed to extremes. 

CEO RJ Scaringe says that Rivian has “really focused a lot of energy on” the idea of energy storage. In how it engineers battery systems for the vehicle, it’s already planning and designing for those batteries, after the vehicle, to be connected to a second-life use, in “various types of grid storage.”

Rivian grid storage

Rivian grid storage

“To do that, you have to design the battery from the very beginning, such that the transition from a car to the grid is really easy,” Scaringe said, adding that the company is thinking “on a multi-decade basis” 

Watch the video below for more about that vision—which, if you’re a truck person but looking to reduce your carbon footprint, is a lot to get excited about.

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