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Rivian altering battery cells to LFP, following Tesla, and high-nickel

RJ Scaringe, Rivian’s CEO, introduces the world to his firm’s R1T all-electric pickup and all-electric R1S SUV on the Los Angeles Auto Present in Los Angeles, California, November 27, 2018.

Mike Blake | Reuters

Electrical automobile maker Rivian plans to make use of new forms of battery cells in its electrical vans, supply vans and SUVs the corporate mentioned Thursday in a 2021 fourth-quarter shareholder letter. These embrace cells made with lithium iron phosphate (LFP) chemistry for its standard-level automobiles, and high-nickel chemistry for its longer-range automobiles.

LFP battery cells don’t require any nickel or cobalt, which might be costly or onerous to acquire. They’re additionally typically thought-about extra secure, however much less energy-dense, than nickel cobalt aluminum oxide cells, which had been utilized by Tesla and different automakers in electrical automobiles. Whereas they are often totally discharged and charged with out as a lot harm to the cell over time, LFP batteries don’t typically ship the identical vary as NCA and different sorts.

Excessive-nickel chemistry batteries, in the meantime, are extra power dense, might be charged extra rapidly and ship extra miles per cost for a pack of the identical or much less weight made with these cells.

Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe defined on an earnings name after hours on Thursday that the corporate and its suppliers are dealing with quite a lot of constraints because of the Covid pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and their impacts on world provide chains. He mentioned Rivian was “taking a look at probably the most difficult provide chain environments the automotive business had ever seen.”

Scaringe mentioned that the primary LFP cell is being sourced by means of a associate, which he didn’t identify, however mentioned that the corporate is “additionally creating in-house battery chemistries and battery manufacturing capabilities.”

Rivian Business Automobiles, such because the EDV-700 it developed for Amazon, ought to have “comparable every day vary capabilities with LFP chemistry, and this chemistry offers significant value financial savings for us,” Rivian wrote in its shareholder letter.

Learn extra about electrical automobiles from CNBC Professional

In its shopper electrical automobiles, together with the R1T pickup and R1S SUV, Rivian expects an estimated vary of over 260 miles with the LFP-based customary battery pack.

Tesla introduced plans to modify to LFP battery cells for its customary battery packs in October 2021, and each firms are following within the footsteps of Chinese language electrical automobile and battery producers. The expertise has been typically promoted in China, and as battery researchers Roskill have famous, round 95% of LFP cathode manufacturing relies in China. Eliminating cobalt means decreasing reliance on suppliers the place compelled labor remains to be a priority. Cobalt extraction remains to be largely concentrated within the Democratic Republic of Congo, the place it’s linked to human rights abuses and baby labor.

Rivian is aiming to provide 25,000 battery electrical automobiles in 2022 and goals to ship its 55,000th automobile inside 2023.

The corporate’s shares dropped greater than 12% after hours on Thursday after the corporate missed Wall Avenue’s fourth-quarter earnings expectations and forecast a modest improve in automobile manufacturing for 2022.

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