/Rivian CEO confirms auxiliary batteries, truck-to-truck charging

Rivian CEO confirms auxiliary batteries, truck-to-truck charging

The U.S.-based startup electric automaker Rivian is already showing plenty of signs that it’s doing things differently than Tesla. While Tesla CEO Elon Musk discusses potential features of the company’s new cars on Twitter, Rivian has held back on boasting about some of its most innovative ideas.

The latest, according to a wide-ranging new interview with Rivian founder RJ Scaringe, published last week in The Drive is the ability for Rivian trucks to charge each other.

Scaringe said the company’s models would have the “capability you’d have in a Land Rover, with a lot of off-road capability….” Deep in the wilderness off-road, however, there are few gas stations, much less electric-car fast chargers. Off-roaders often carry extra gas cans, and often have to buddy up to help each other out.

In the Drive interview, Scaringe confirmed that Rivian trucks will be able to do that.

Scaringe confirmed earlier reports based on patent filings that the Rivian R1T pickup  will be designed to accept accessory battery packs that fit into the bed like a toolbox or a false bed floor. The company still hasn’t specified how big those accessory packs might be, but they will come on top of the truck’s largest 180-kilowatt-hour, 400-mile battery pack. The R1T is will also be available with smaller internal battery options including 135 kwh and 105 kwh, though the company has not released range estimates for those battery packs. Adding the accessory battery packs would allow the truck to venture farther into the wilderness off the beaten path. 

Rivian auxiliary battery

Rivian auxiliary battery

Rivian auxiliary flat battery for R1T

Rivian auxiliary flat battery for R1T

The CEO also announced that Rivian models will be able to share a charge, with one truck charging another on a peer-to-peer basis. If one truck runs out of range off-road, and another has the accessory batteries and enough juice to get home, the second driver could directly lend the first a charge, for example, like siphoning gas from one car to another or lending a gas can. That would be a first for electric vehicles. 

Somewhat uncharacteristically, Scaringe also threw a little shade at other electric automakers announcing plans for ever faster charge rates. “There’s a lot of misinformation on this, unfortunately,” he said. “The speed at which you charge has a huge impact on the life of the batteries. Regardless of what they’re telling you, everyone is working with very similar sets in chemistry…. In the next five years, you’ll see a lot of demonstrations where things are charged in 15 minutes, but if you do that 30 times, the battery is shot. Those demos are not realistic or repeatable and we’ll start to see those get replaced with real world charging speeds and rates.”