Rivian’s Latest Battery Innovation May Outperform Tesla’s

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Rivian's Latest Battery Innovation May Outperform Tesla's

Today, Rivian grabbed headlines by unveiling the eagerly awaited R2 SUV at an unexpectedly low base price of $45,000. Alongside, the company also introduced another vehicle, the R3, and a novel battery cell named the 4695, pivotal for both models. This cell, measuring 46 millimeters in diameter and 95 millimeters in height, surpasses the dimensions of Tesla’s 4680 cells, hinting at significant potential.

The size of a battery cell directly influences its capacity without affecting its voltage, unless there’s a shift in the chemical composition. Rivian appears to stick with the traditional lithium-ion approach, meaning the 4695’s larger size allows it to store more energy compared to the 4680. Yet, there’s even more to it.

Bigger cells not only store more energy but also support faster charging and discharging rates. This implies that the R2 could potentially recharge quicker and deliver higher peak performance than models powered by the narrower 4680 cells. Additionally, the vehicle could benefit from enhanced regenerative braking efficiency.

Rivian isn’t alone in adopting the 4695 battery cell; BMW has also showcased its intention to incorporate this cell size in its upcoming Neue Klasse EVs starting in 2025. Moreover, this 46mm form factor has attracted attention from major battery producers like Samsung SDI, Panasonic, and LG, marking a significant trend in the industry.

Although Rivian hasn’t shared detailed specifications for their new 4695 battery cells, a closer look at images from their recent reveal allows for some educated guesses about the battery pack’s specifications.

Analyzing the images, the battery pack appears to be organized into three large sections, each separated by robust internal supports. Each section contains 34 cells across by 8 cells deep, totaling 272 cells per pack. Assuming these lithium-ion cells are connected in series, the calculation suggests a nominal voltage of 979.2V per module. This points to a system designed for a 1000V architecture, challenging previous speculations of an 800V system.

When these modules are linked in parallel, the overall voltage stays consistent, but the available current significantly increases. While the exact capacity per cell remains unknown, other cells of similar size can handle pulse discharges of up to 10C, indicating potential outputs up to 900kW or approximately 1,200 horsepower. However, Rivian’s 4695 cells might prioritize energy storage over extreme discharge rates.

The total energy capacity of Rivian’s battery pack will be clearer once the automaker reveals more details. Until then, it’s reasonable to anticipate that these batteries could support performance levels that rival or even exceed those seen in Tesla models like the Model Y. Ultimately, the efficiency of the vehicle’s powertrain in utilizing this energy will be crucial for translating these theoretical capacities into tangible real-world performance.

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