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Oh no, a fire broke out at the Rivian electric vehicle factory. The good news is that the battery fire didn’t harm any Rivian R1T models. Production was slightly delayed, though. Also, should we be concerned about this battery fire? 

There was a battery fire at the Rivian R1T plant 

Blue Rivian R1T parked in a forest
Rivian R1T | Rivian

According to the Normal Fire Department, the fire at the Rivian electric pickup truck factory in Normal, Illinois, was only a small one. We’re glad that it didn’t spread to any Rivian R1T models because we want production to stay on track. 

The Normal Fire Department shared in a report that the Rivian Automotive Assembly Plant in Normal, Illinois, was evacuated for a short time as a precaution following a small fire. The fire ignited in an automated battery assembly area. 

Damage was negligible, and no one was injured. Normal firefighters responded to the report of a fire in the battery assembly area after 5:00 PM. Once the fire was located, they used a hose line to extinguish it quickly. Cells were also promptly cooled to prevent thermal runaway. 

There was minimal smoke that was ventilated from the build via its HVAC system and exhaust fans. Then employees could safely return to the building. 

Should Rivian be worried about this fire? 

The fire occurred with a battery sub-model. Several sub-modules are assembled to create a full battery pack for the Rivian R1T. The sub-module is about the size of a briefcase, and the firefighters didn’t elaborate on the cause of the fire. 

After the Chevy Bolt EV batteries continue to catch on fire, we are a little apprehensive. However, there isn’t any data to show that electric vehicles catch on fire more frequently than gasoline-powered cars. 

The Rivian R1T uses battery cells from Samsung SDI. These are different from the batteries used by General Motors. GM and Hyundai have issued significant recalls due to a defect found in the battery cells provided by LG. 

Luckily, the fire didn’t damage the building or the assembly process. But it may have caused a slight delay. While they have been trying to ramp up production, Rivian still only builds about one truck a day. 

Does Rivian use good batteries? 

The 2022 Rivian R1T fording water
2022 Rivian R1T | Rivian

The Rivian R1T uses 1270-type cylindrical cells. They have the same form factor as the units used in the Tesla Model 3 and Y. This provides a sigh of relief because Tesla batteries are linked to catching on fire more than gasoline-powered cars. 

Currently, the Rivian truck is available with a 135-kWh battery pack. It can provide a range of up to 300 miles. You can upgrade to the larger 180-kWh pack for an electric range of about 400 miles per charge. 

The R1T is one of the first electric pickup trucks to receive a fuel economy rating from the EPA. It gets up to 74 MPGe in the city and up to 66 MPGe on the highway. 

For now, the battery sub-module that caught fire shouldn’t be a concern. However, we hope Rivian can figure out how the automated process sparked a flame to avoid similar problems in the future. 

As the first electric truck to roll off the production line, it may or may not have problems that need correcting. We’ll keep an eye on things and update you as we learn more.


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