ajdelange

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The article headline is about a breakthrough to new low level of cobalt. Then way down the page we find

"In a 2018 call with Wall Street analysts, Musk said that Model 3 cobalt content in its NCA battery was already lower than anyone would achieve in future deployment of NMC 811." So this brand new breakthrough was old news 2 years ago.
 
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Musk is notorious for making misleading, exaggerated and self-serving statements. Tesla batteries are among the best, but that doesn't mean only Tesla knows what's going on, especially with respect to battery chemistries. Tesla may be developing/making lower cobalt content batteries but it's way early in the S-curve. All sorts of low cobalt battery chemistries will be developed even while entirely other sorts of battery chemistries will be pursued. Which technologies and which companies will come out on top are anyone's guesses.

Nonetheless, I have faith in RJ. He's not one for making misleading, exaggerated and self-serving statements.
 

ajdelange

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I certainly hadn't intended to kick off a contest of personality cults with this remark. It was intended to point out just another example of sloppy journalism - the writer contradicting himself in his own article unless we are suggesting that the batteries being used in the 3 are not in fact lower in Co than 811. In early 2018 Tesla wrote in a letter to share holders:

"The cobalt content of our Nickel-Cobalt-Aluminum cathode chemistry is already lower than next-generation cathodes that will be made by other cell producers with a Nickel-Manganese-Cobalt ratio of 8:1:1"

The SEC takes a dim view of companies that lie to their shareholders so I am assuming that this is a true statement.

I have great faith in and trust both Elon Musk and R. J. Scaringe. The difference in my regard for the two is that Musk has delivered over and over and over again. Scaringe hasn't delivered anything yet so while he seems trustworthy my regard for him is mostly based on faith.

Anyway it appears that the breakthrough to 10% cobalt content is actually old news. When it comes to battery technology Tesla is clearly out front at the moment with their investments in battery companies and companies that make the equipment that make batteries. Others may catch up and who knows there may come a real breakthrough out of some lab at some obscure university in the Punjab. For now my money in on Tesla which does not mean I am even considering cancelling my R1T reservation.
 

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I certainly hadn't intended to kick off a contest of personality cults with this remark. It was intended to point out just another example of sloppy journalism - the writer contradicting himself in his own article unless we are suggesting that the batteries being used in the 3 are not in fact lower in Co than 811. In early 2018 Tesla wrote in a letter to share holders:

"The cobalt content of our Nickel-Cobalt-Aluminum cathode chemistry is already lower than next-generation cathodes that will be made by other cell producers with a Nickel-Manganese-Cobalt ratio of 8:1:1"

The SEC takes a dim view of companies that lie to their shareholders so I am assuming that this is a true statement.

I have great faith in and trust both Elon Musk and R. J. Scaringe. The difference in my regard for the two is that Musk has delivered over and over and over again. Scaringe hasn't delivered anything yet so while he seems trustworthy my regard for him is mostly based on faith.

Anyway it appears that the breakthrough to 10% cobalt content is actually old news. When it comes to battery technology Tesla is clearly out front at the moment with their investments in battery companies and companies that make the equipment that make batteries. Others may catch up and who knows there may come a real breakthrough out of some lab at some obscure university in the Punjab. For now my money in on Tesla which does not mean I am even considering cancelling my R1T reservation.
Past history shows that the SEC does indeed take a dim view of companies that lie to their shareholders - the "funding secured" statement by Musk is but one example.
I put much less faith in the statements that Elon makes than you do. Too many examples of well meaning (but overly optimistic?) statements of facts that turned out not to be true (plus a few apparently intentional mis-statements)

Everything I've seen indicates that R.J. has a much different philosophy than Elon, hence the feel of many they there is a dearth of information coming from Rivian.
 
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I agree. There's no need to debate Elon vs RJ. Both brilliant but very different.

The good news, I think, is the massive worldwide effort in researching and developing the next generations of batteries. Note the plural.

There's so much R&D being undertaken in so many different fronts that there's likely to be a steady stream of new battery chemistries for the next several years, if not decades. When I started this thread, I was worried Rivian might be barking up the wrong tree. In other words, Rivian might be partnering with the wrong firms on battery development. While that's still a possibility, I'm less worried than I was.

As you pointed out, AJ, it's not a one and done contest. It's not going to be that one battery supplier emerges victorious and everyone else falls by the wayside. Rivian's early generation vehicles, no matter with whom it partners, will perform well and early generation batteries will likely be serviceable for a good long while. Maybe a decade or more.

The key issue, in my opinion, is with which company or companies does Rivian partner? You don't want to put all of your eggs in one basket. At the same time, partnering with more than one supplier of key components is costly and complicated. From what I've read so far, and I have no idea how reliable the information is, Rivian has been in talks with LG Chem and Samsung SDI, both S. Korean companies, and both among the leading and largest battery suppliers in the world. All good, in my opinion.

Rivian should walk a tightrope between working with the best suppliers and not being overly dependent on any one supplier. This is a point where the differences between Elon and RJ may become important because Elon prefers to do it in-house and not rely on suppliers. We don't know much about Rivian and RJ in this respect, but given his schooling and background, it seems likely Rivian will rely decisively on suppliers, like most auto companies do. Nonetheless, even within the auto industry, some firms source 50% of their parts, components, sub-assemblies and systems from suppliers and some source 75% from suppliers. That's a 50% difference in the degree of vertical integration.

The commonplace wisdom is the more strategically important a component or system is, the better off you are doing it in-house. And as RJ and others have pointed out, Rivian does a lot in-house from the skateboard and attendant architecture and systems on up. But the key component not done in-house is batteries. And the key component for BEVs is obviously batteries.

Here's a point where personalities and predilections may matter. How much battery research and development is done in-house? With which battery companies do you partner and how do you manage those partnerships? Do you treat suppliers of key components as just another partner, someone who's replaceable in the next contract negotiations, or do you treat them as genuine partners, someone with whom fates are intertwined?

Back to the business at hand - this thread. Batteries are key technologies of the moment and future. It's unclear which battery chemistries will emerge as the best and which companies will develop those chemistries. Hence, it's a time to hedge one's bets. But, at the same time, which companies sell a lot of BEVs will mightily influence battery R&D because product sales drive market acceptance and underlying technological progress.

Fortunately, Rivian seemingly has enough financial resources not to put all of its eggs in one basket, but at the same time let's hope it doesn't have too many baskets. For early preorder holders, they needn't worry too much because first generation Rivians will undoubtedly have good batteries - durable, powerful and reliable - even if later Rivians come with different sorts of batteries. Why am I optimistic?

Because not only does Rivian seem to be doing things right in-house, but also it has great partners - Amazon, Ford, Cox and others. To the extent the companies work well together, each one becomes stronger in the process and, most importantly, Rivian is not limited in its choice of partners. It can chose to work more or less closely with each partner. Once again, this is why I've been hoping that Rivian has the resources and wherewithal to partner with more than one battery supplier. Choice is a good thing especially when so much is up in the air.

While both Elon and RJ are brilliant minds, their personalities and behaviors are likely to have profound impacts on these matters and the futures of their companies.
 
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Here's an interesting piece comparing Hydrogen/fuel cell powered vehicles versus BEVs. It's not surprising battery powered vehicles are more efficient, but the degree of their advantage is surprising. The study looks at energy costs from well-to-tank and tank-to-wheel, claiming that tank-to-wheel efficiencies for BEVs are between 70-90%. Remarkable. This is another perspective on BEV and battery wars.

https://insideevs.com/news/406676/battery-electric-hydrogen-fuel-cell-efficiency-comparison/amp/
 

ajdelange

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Yes, too bad because "fool cells" as Elon calls them are pretty neat technology but just not practical for cars and small trucks. The only place I see them is in industrial settings (truck depot, taxi dispatch centre, power generation facility) adjacent to a windfarm or solar plant with excess peak capacity at some times of day or night. The unused energy solar or wind energy is being dissipated as heat anyway and so if even a small part of it can be used to rip electrons off oxygen atoms and stick them on hydrogen atoms you are ahead of the game.

And yet I think Toyota and the Japanese government continue to push hydrogen. ???

Note that a year ago a post like this would result in a torrent of counter response. I wonder if that will be the case now as it seems pretty much everyone has accepted that H2 is dead in the automotive market.
 
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As you say, Toyota, the Japanese government, Hyundai and the S. Korean government continue to push hydrogen fuel cell technology, but the emphases are on commercial applications, like taxis and trucking, where you can have fleet refueling stations. You start and end your days where hydrogen refueling is available. Also, Toyota is planning to convert an old auto assembly plant near Mt. Fuji into a new mobility and residential community powered by hydrogen fuel cells. But, again, in a fixed use application like this, hydrogen generation, storage and refueling are less problematic and more efficient.

There are almost as many stories in the press about advances in hydrogen fuel cell technology as there are about battery technology. Both technologies are advancing and will continue to do. In 10-20 years, we might see a lot more of both technologies but used in somewhat different applications. Nonetheless, ICE vehicles will take a long time to die.
 

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You know, it just occurred to me recently to wonder why Rivian keeps saying it's not at all worried about it's battery supply. Whoever supplies Rivian's skateboard supplies Rivian, ultimately Amazon's entire EV delivery truck fleet, at least one new Lincoln EV, maybe even multiple Ford fleet models if the Lincoln thing pans out. And of course whoever else Rivian sells their skateboard or battery packs to. And unlike Panasonic, the supplier wouldn't have to put up with Elon : ) The skateboards could end up giving them massive supply chain leverage for any part of the skateboard or battery packs that they don't manufacture themselves.
 

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You know, it just occurred to me recently to wonder why Rivian keeps saying it's not at all worried about it's battery supply. Whoever supplies Rivian's skateboard supplies Rivian, ultimately Amazon's entire EV delivery truck fleet, at least one new Lincoln EV, maybe even multiple Ford fleet models if the Lincoln thing pans out. And of course whoever else Rivian sells their skateboard or battery packs to. And unlike Panasonic, the supplier wouldn't have to put up with Elon : ) The skateboards could end up giving them massive supply chain leverage for any part of the skateboard or battery packs that they don't manufacture themselves.
The Amazon deal definitely provided significant supply chain leverage. I also believe that could be part of the reason the prices on R1T/R1S were lowered.
 
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Here's a video on Atlis' claimed rapid charge, new battery chemistry and packaging.

Competition around batteries, their chemistry, packaging, modularization and management will drive the BEV industry for the foreseeable future. That's the theme of this thread. But it's hard to predict winners and losers in this competition. Fortunately, Rivian and RJ are brilliant and careful. They under promise but over deliver, at least that's our hope.

But it's a global competition. China is the world's largest auto market and Chinese investments in precious metals sourcing and processing, essential for BEVs, are notable. Chinese government policies support and promote the advances of Chinese auto firms. That can be a good or bad thing, depending on the policy choices made. Size does matter, however.

On the other hand, S. Korean battery companies and S. Korean government policies suggest that size isn't everything. LG Chem, Samsung SDI and SK Innovation are world leaders even while the S. Korean domestic population is a mere 50 million, dwarfed by the population size of China, Europe and the U.S. Government policies and globally ambitious firms appear to be a winning combination in S. Korea and, as far as we know, Rivian is likely working with one or several S. Korean firms as battery suppliers.

 

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Interesting. I remember RJ somewhere saying we'd see a lot of claims like this but that ultimately it would trash the battery regardless because of chemistry. But I think Rivian is maintaining more like within 3-4 degrees across their batteries so maybe that makes a difference? Refueling time is really the only big downside of EVs now that ranges are getting well above 300. I'm not sure who out there is going to want to build Atlis's trucks without a rebrand though. Battery tech might be their last gasp, which makes me wonder how well they've tested this in actual vehicle usage scenarios.
 
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I agree that in a R&D phase of development, which is where Atlis is, performance claims can be postulated. Once the rubber hits the road, however, and battery packs and vehicles go into production, performance claims often don't measure up.

The other issue I wonder about is having motors in wheels. Several Rivian executives and engineers have pointedly remarked that having motors in-board, at the center of the skateboard, allows long half-shafts which yields large amounts of wheel articulation. Lots of articulation at the wheels gives the ability to roll easily over uneven terrain. Motors in wheels, on the other hand, makes them heavier and presumably harder to absorb shocks, bumps and potholes. A performance tweak that almost always results in a better ride is to reduce weight at the wheels.

It would certainly be desirable if Rivian would release more performance data. What was learned on the long Patagonia to L.A. overland trek, for example? How did the suspension hold up? Did the tires wear evenly? Did air suspension and kinetic hydraulics work as planned? What was the battery performance? Was there any battery degradation, if any, during the trip? And so on.

Now that work at Normal and other locations is curtailed, it's a great time to update the website with all manner of new information. Not doing so only adds to the general uncertainties of the times.
 

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I find it annoying, but also think they're smart to not reveal too much before they're close to launch. At least two years will have passed since they unveiled when they launch. There could have been a lot of upgrades to performance since then. But why let your competitors know when it's obvious they're targeting slight improvements over the top specs you announced in 2018? Especially if being delayed by Covid-19 might put launch in a window that gives access to new innovations.

I did some more reading on Atlis. It's not even clear whether they've completed more than a skateboard prototype yet. Hope their battery isn't a fantasy and it sees the light of day, but I'm skeptical.
 
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