Rivian apparently has plans for solid-state batteries: The US electric car start-up is currently looking for engineers to develop solid-state batteries through job advertisements. Rivian is apparently planning to set up a production line.
The five positions currently advertised are all located at Rivian’s Palo Alto site in California. They are looking for a ‘Senior Manager, Cell Solid State Manufacturing Engineering’, a ‘Manager, Manufacturing Engineering – Cell Solid State’ and one senior, one staff and one ordinary engineer each for ‘Cell Solid State’.
According to the job description for the ‘Senior Manager’ position, Rivian aims to “build and lead a comprehensive team working on solid state battery manufacturing”. The ‘senior managers’ responsibilities will also include working with ‘technology partners’ to build solid-state battery production lines. In addition, “key milestones” are to be set for scaling the technology.
Rivian still leaves a few points open, such as whether the “technology partners” are primarily suppliers for production and automation technology, or also partners in the cell technology itself. Until now, it was not known that Rivian was even working on batteries in its Palo Alto office. The development of software and vehicle electronics is officially located there – including cloud connectivity and autonomous driving, which is probably rather subordinate at Rivian.
The timing of Rivian’s plans to fill the positions in Palo Alto is interesting. On the one hand, many companies are working on such batteries, but they are not yet installed in cars. VW’s associate QuantumScape is working on it and wants to set up a pilot production plant in San José, California, soon. In addition, Taiwanese battery cell maker ProLogium had unveiled a solid-state battery pack in early 2020. This week it was announced that the cells will initially be used by Vietnam’s carmaker VinFast.
Solid-state batteries are already offered in buses, such as Mercedes’ eCitaro. In this case, the manufacturer is the Bolloré subsidiary Blue Solutions. In an interview with electrive, Blue Solutions CEO Jean-Luc Monfort provided insights into the current state of the technology. Depending on the application, the company’s batteries have to be warmed up to 50 to 80 degrees. This is feasible in a bus in continuous use with preconditioning in the depot, but not practical in a private car in short-haul use. “What everybody is looking for that’s to find chemistry to run solid-state batteries at ‘room temperature’, so at around 20 degrees. We are not yet there,” says Monfort.
Furthermore, it was recently revealed that electric car startup Fisker has halted its plans for solid-state batteries as early as 2020. “It’s kind of a technology where when you feel like you’re 90 per cent there, you’re almost there until you realise the last 10 per cent is much more difficult than the first 90,” Henrik Fisker said in an interview. “But you don’t really know that until you get up to 90 per cent.” As they approached “fully understanding” the technology, he said, they found it was much harder than expected – even given the euphoria of earlier research successes. Fisker does not expect to use the technology in cars for another seven years