Soon Tesla may not be the only upstart EV automaker that can claim the capability of removable battery packs.
According to a recently discovered Rivian patent filing, the fledgling EV brand could offer an additional drop-in battery pack for its owners. Specifically, the so-called ‘Auxiliary Battery’ would be dropped into the vehicle’s cargo area—the truck bed of the R1T model, for example.
With the Auxiliary Battery onboard, the vehicle could be capable of a range of more than 400 miles on a single charge.
Once the Auxiliary Battery is installed, the vehicle would automatically detect the pack and adjust various systems accordingly. These include suspension settings, braking sensitivity, steering ratio, and—most importantly—available range.
These adjustments are necessary for safe driving operation, since the battery pack would add a significant amount of heft and mass to the rear of the vehicle. And that extra mass would drastically alter the EV’s driving characteristics—that is, without the requisite aforementioned adjustments.
Importantly, the Auxiliary Battery would be more than a lump of extra lithium-ion cells. According to the patent, it would also include an integrated cooling system as well.
There If You Need It
Certainly, this patent is a smart way to support customers who might want an extra helping of onboard electrons for an extended road trip. The real question is whether Rivian will actually ever implement the feature.
Tesla’s lauded battery-swapping program, for example, announced in late 2014, was a great headline grabber for the brand. However, it never really materialized; it’s only offered in one location, Harris Ranch, California, and it’s unclear how many Tesla customers have every utilized the service.
So, like so many moves from Tesla, this patent could represent Rivian simply hedging its bets. However, it’d be exciting if it were actually ever implemented. We hope it is.