Rivian Unveils Superior Battery Cell to Outperform Tesla’s Technology

Rivian R2 SUV Boasts Larger Cylindrical Batteries than Tesla’s 4680 Cells

The unveiling of the highly-anticipated R2 SUV may have been expected, but Rivian stunned audiences today by also introducing the R3 and a new battery cell that serves as the foundation for both vehicles. The 4695 cell boasts a diameter of 46 millimeters and a height of 95 millimeters, earning its name from these measurements. While its specifications have not yet been fully disclosed, it is noticeably larger than Tesla’s 4680 cells, potentially implying significant advantages.

As the size of battery cells increase, their voltage remains constant unless there is a change in the chemistry used. It is highly probable that Rivian is utilizing traditional lithium-ion chemistry. However, what does see an increase is the cell’s rating in terms of amp-hours. This results in a 4695 having a greater capacity for holding energy compared to a 4680. Yet, there is even more to consider.

Bigger cellular structures generally have the capability to efficiently charge and discharge at increased speeds. Simply put, this indicates that the R2 will most likely have a higher charging rate and a greater peak power if it obtains its energy from a slightly slimmer battery pack composed of 4680 cells. Additionally, the vehicle’s regenerative braking system may be more robust, potentially resulting in improved efficiency.

Rivian is not the initial company to venture into the 4695 market. Just recently, BMW unveiled prototypes of a 4695 cell that will be incorporated in its upcoming Neue Klasse line of electric vehicles starting in 2025. In fact, multiple battery producers have already introduced cells of this size such as Samsung SDI, Panasonic, and LG.

We are not privy to the precise specifications of the recently announced 4695 cells, however, we can make an educated estimation about the specifications of the battery pack by analyzing the images displayed by Rivian during their reveal event.

Focusing on the pack, it seems to be comprised of three sizable compartments divided by sturdy inner frame bars. Each compartment measures 34 cells across and 8 cells deep, giving a total of 272 cells. Assuming they are lithium-ion batteries, and all connected in a series, the module’s voltage would be approximately 979.2V (nominal). This indicates an architecture with a 1000V capacity, rather than the speculated 800V.

When three of these components are connected in parallel, the voltage will stay constant, but there will be a significant increase in available current. While we do not have information on the specific ratings of each individual cell, similar 4695 modules have shown the capability to discharge pulses at rates as high as ten times their rated amp-hour capacity, equivalent to 10C. This could potentially result in a potential power output of 900kW or roughly 1,200 horsepower. However, it is likely that the 4695s used in the Rivian err on the side of higher capacity, making such high discharge rates improbable.

After the electric car company reveals the complete amount of energy storage in the pack, it can be estimated. At this time, it is important to understand that these upgraded battery cells will likely support performance comparable to or even exceeding Tesla’s capabilities in models such as the Model Y. The effectiveness of the remaining components in utilizing this power will play a crucial role in determining the vehicle’s performance in everyday situations, but the opportunity for high kilowatt-hours is certainly present.

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