LA Auto Show

Cosmacelf

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The 2018 Los Angeles auto show goes on until Sunday December 9th. I think I’ll head over next week sometime. Anyone else going?
 

Cosmacelf

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This is THE auto show to go if you want to ask intelligent questions. All Rivian booth people were engineers or product planners of one sort or another. I'll post pictures below, but here's a summary of new information that I learned/confirmed. Some of this info is detailed enough that I would take it with a grain of salt until officially confirmed by Rivian - not that I think I this info is wrong, just that the production vehicles are 2+ years away and detailed design elements can and will change in that time.

First, the skateboard. Unlike Tesla which uses a single sheet of 2170 cells, Rivian's battery packs contain two layers of 2170 cells with cooling between them. Rivian can do this, of course, since their cars are much taller than Tesla's. In addition, their skateboard contains all the pieces needed for propulsion. Battery, inverter, BMS, motors, coolant loops, refrigerant compressor, etc. The only major pieces missing for a full car are things like computers for instrument display and auto driving.

Speaking of the skateboard, Rivian is going to take full advantage of having four independently operable motors. Tesla might have track mode, but Rivian will have tank mode. What is tank mode? How about a turning radius of ZERO? Yep, on limited traction surfaces, you can enable tank mode allowing you to use steering wheel paddles to make the left side wheels turn forward, while the right side wheels turn backwards, enabling you to turn on the spot.

For more normal driving, they will have torque vectoring to keep you stable (think ultimate traction control) and even a sport mode which will allow a limited amount of skidding around corners. This won't just be a capable off road vehicle, it'll be a fun one!

Ride height will be adjustable via an air suspension. I think 5 heights? A super low height called "kneeling" for entry/exit, a low height for freeway driving, normal height, and two raised heights for off road use.

The models we saw on the floor today are production intent vehicles. In theory all major body styling is frozen. Rivian still doesn't have tooling, of course (first beta cars made from production tooling is expected end of next year) so these showroom cars have a fiberglass body. Production vehicles will have a mix of steel and aluminum with most body panels being aluminum.

Rivian is working on level 3 autonomy. It was described to me as being able to take hands off wheel and work on a laptop while on a freeway, and the car would inform you to then pay attention while it exited the freeway and drove on surface streets. To make sure the human is paying attention when it is supposed to (ie. everywhere except freeways), Rivian will have a steering wheel torque sensor, a steering wheel grip sensor, and an internal eye tracking camera. I started asking probing questions about who will be writing the neural nets and the self driving software. I didn't get precise enough answers to be confident stating anything, and anyways, it's probably subject to change.

The vehicles will have all the typical communication buses found in advanced vehicles in including CAN, LIN, FlexRay and Broadr-Reach Ethernet.

Rivian will be offering their skateboard architecture to other vehicle manufacturers, presumably ones that won't compete head to head. An example that was given was a small bus manufacturer, like a 14 person transport bus.

Rivian will piggyback on the quickly expanding CCS charging infrastructure for fast charging with its 160 kW capable system. While they don't plan on building a large charging network like Tesla has done, they do plan on supplementing the CCS network in key off road destinations. For example, they might build stations at Joshua Tree, or other remote national park locations. There are no current plans to license or integrate with Tesla's charging network.
 

Cosmacelf

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By the way, two of the smaller booths at the show were Tesla and Rivian, yet they had the most people in them. Go figure!

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Cosmacelf

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Excellent report.

The Elephant in the room is "where are they sourcing their 2170 cells?" isn't it?

They are going to need a lot of cells.

SK Innovation is planning to invest $1B then another $700M in a battery cell factory in Georgia.

SK Innovation announces new electric vehicle battery gigafactory in the US
Thanks. Yes, that is definitely a question. However, they are sourcing cells today from somewhere. They are using them in the test vehicles. Scaringe seems very methodical, and they appear to have lined up all the important suppliers already. So, someone is probably on the hook to supply batteries already, we just don't know who.

If you go to the SK Innovation web site, there isn't much information, but the info that is there shows pouch cells instead of cylindrical cells. Also there's this:

"SK Innovation will begin construction in the southeast U.S. state of Georgia in early 2019, with production targeted for 2022, the company said in a statement."

So, doesn't line up with Rivian.

I wonder, I wonder - does Tesla have an exclusive for Panasonic's Gigafactory batteries?
 

zach90z

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Thanks! Very interesting information! Where you able to get an inside look of the vehicles? Any information on 3rd row leg room?
 

Cosmacelf

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Thanks! Very interesting information! Where you able to get an inside look of the vehicles? Any information on 3rd row leg room?
I wasn’t. I had my tape measure in my pocket, but they had ropes around each vehicle. Not sure that level of detail is worthwhile anyways since they are prototype cars. While they are “production intent”, we know what happens when manufacturing reality steps in (I’m still annoyed at Tesla for showing us a gorgeous Model 3 hood in the prototype car, and then delivering blah).

There is a cutaway picture here though: R1S - Rivian - Media Newsroom
 
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