Rivian to Switch to LFP Battery Cells for Entry Packs, Following Tesla

Rivian plans to change the types of electric vehicle (EV) battery cells it uses, the company said on Thursday in a Q4 2021 shareholder letter.

Rivian is switching to lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery cells for its standard vehicles, foregoing the use of nickel and cobalt and following in Tesla’s footsteps, according to CNBC.

Beyond eliminating the reliance on costly and controversial nickel and cobalt, LFP batteries also feature more stability, despite a drop in total energy density.

Rivian will also switch to high-nickel chemistry batteries for its long-range variants, due to their higher energy densities and subsequent driving ranges.

The initial battery cells will be sourced through a supplier, though Rivian Founder and CEO RJ Scaringe said the automaker was “also developing in-house battery chemistries and battery production capabilities.”

Rivian’s move away from cobalt is straight out of Tesla’s playbook, as the automaker launched a new entry-level Model 3 with updated LFP battery technology last August, that has since also made it into the Model Y.

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Cobalt mining has been associated with human rights and child labor violations, largely based in mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Still, 95 percent of LFP cathode material is based in China, which has also been criticized for forced labor practices against ethnic Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region.

Rivian’s Q4 2021 was not pretty, as the automaker posted a $2.4 billion operating loss for the quarter, while tampered 2022 production guidance to 25,000 vehicles, as it struggles with supply chain and operation woes.