Range is key if Rivian is going to steal F-150 customers from Ford.
Rivian took the automotive industry by storm when it revealed its electric R1T pickup and R1S SUV last year, promising that both models will boast an impressive driving range of 400 miles and a combined output of 754 hp and 826 lb-ft of torque. Automotive News recently took a tour around Rivian’s engineering and design center in Normal, Illinois. During the tour, the publication learned that range-topping versions of the R1T and R1S will be fitted with the world’s largest automotive battery pack.
According to the automaker, the 180 kWh battery pack contains liquid cooling and no less than 7,776 individual cells. But while this battery pack promises to deliver a class-leading range, Rivian doesn’t have as much experience building EVs as other companies, which could make it difficult to ensure the battery pack is reliable.
Rivian also doesn’t have a lot of time to develop and test the battery pack, as the R1T is slated to go on sale in late 2020. As Automotive News points out, General Motors started testing the batteries and the battery pack's thermal management system for the Chevrolet Volt in 2008, almost three years before the car went on sale. For comparison, the first-gen Volt had just 288 cells arranged in nine modules. Luckily, Rivian should be able to access Ford's product development expertise to solve problems and conduct thorough testing.
Rivian is also working on a 105 kWh battery pack and a 135 kWh battery pack, both of which are larger than the range-topping 100 kWh pack used by select Tesla Model S and Model X variants. Driving range for the 105 kWh Rivian models should be around 240 miles while the 135 kWh should deliver a range of 310 miles.
Rivian still has a lot of work to do in the next 17 months before it launches its first electric pickup, however, since the company needs to revamp its Illinois assembly plant and hire and train a new workforce.