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Has anyone heard If Rivian will be using heat pumps in their vehicles, similar to what Tesla did in the Model Y?

 

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Has anyone heard If Rivian will be using heat pumps in their vehicles, similar to what Tesla did in the Model Y?

Well Rivian is hiring a "Senior Heat Pump Systems Engineer" So I'm pretty sure there's going to be a heat pump.

 

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Has anyone heard If Rivian will be using heat pumps in their vehicles, similar to what Tesla did in the Model Y?

Apparently the answer is "No", at least not at first. I was wondering the same so I emailed the question to customer service and this was the response: "Our vehicles do not use a heat pump system, they have been tested and designed to provide optimal cabin comfort with outdoor temperatures spanning -20F to 110F. Outside that range, our HVAC system will still deliver relative comfort to occupants so that they can safely operate the vehicle."
 

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Apparently the answer is "No", at least not at first. I was wondering the same so I emailed the question to customer service and this was the response: "Our vehicles do not use a heat pump system, they have been tested and designed to provide optimal cabin comfort with outdoor temperatures spanning -20F to 110F. Outside that range, our HVAC system will still deliver relative comfort to occupants so that they can safely operate the vehicle."
Thanks for finding that out @MOgeo and welcome to the forum. Now I'm really curious to see if that makes a difference or not compared to other EVs.
 

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Apparently the answer is "No", at least not at first. I was wondering the same so I emailed the question to customer service and this was the response: "Our vehicles do not use a heat pump system, they have been tested and designed to provide optimal cabin comfort with outdoor temperatures spanning -20F to 110F. Outside that range, our HVAC system will still deliver relative comfort to occupants so that they can safely operate the vehicle."
That is extremely disappointing.

I was okay with all the delays when the assumption was they were wanting to release a well-sorted, high quality, and technically superior vehicle. Every day we seem to find out about another corner that was cut. My faith is getting tested.
 

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An HVAC system is the same as a heat pump, except it does not run backwards, i.e. no reversing valve. One big issue with heat pumps is that they are inefficient below freezing and need some type of auxillary heat source. I live in Arizona and the heat pump for my house works without any auxillary heater because we do not get below freezing, except on rare occasions. Since the battery in the Rivian is so big, I suspect that may overcome the disadvantage of not having a heat pump.

Even with a heat pump, you need to keep the battery warm in freezing temps, so the best way to deal with that is to keep your EV plugged into a charger so that the heating energy comes from the charger, not the battery. The same is true for cooling, I can remote start my Bolt and have it run the AC in the hot summer, with it plugged into the charger, thus precooling it.
 

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At a significant cost to range (if other EVs are any indication). That's the reason I'm disappointed.
Actually, I think the range hit would be less due to the large battery, that is my point. The Rivian is a heavy vehicle that uses a lot of watts per mile, ~450W/mile. That power generates heat and the battery cooling system has to remove that heat, so that can be focused on heating the cabin. The smaller battery in more efficient cars like Bolt or Model 3 do not generate as much heat as these larger battery packs and heavier trucks. The Rivian battery will generate twice as much heat as my Bolt, which is about 250W/mile.

And even if they use resistive heating, that amount of power will remain fairly constant across all vehicles to heat the cabin (I am not stating exactly the same, but not significantly different). Lets assume it takes 3KW to run the heating element, just as an example. On a battery like my Bolt (60KW) that is 5% of the battery power per hour of operation. But on a Rivian with a 135KW battery that would be 2.2% of the battery power and for a 180KW battery that would be 1.6% of the battery. So the range hit would naturally be less. An R1S might need slightly more power than the R1T due to the larger cabin and storage area.
 

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Why is putting a reversing valve on an automotive HVAC compressor such an apparent technical hurdle? It was invented decades ago, is relatively small/light/inexpensive, and they last 10-15+ years in residential applications. Is this just a corporate inertia thing?
 

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An HVAC system is the same as a heat pump, except it does not run backwards, i.e. no reversing valve. One big issue with heat pumps is that they are inefficient below freezing and need some type of auxillary heat source. I live in Arizona ...
This is not true. Modern heat pumps can operate well below freezing. I live in Canada and my heat pump is rated to -25 degrees celsius (-13F). Yes there is aux heat but it only is required if the temp drops lower than that OR if you want to hear very rapidly. Yes the efficiency is lower but it is always more efficient than a heating grid, down to -25.
 

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Apparently the answer is "No", at least not at first. I was wondering the same so I emailed the question to customer service and this was the response: "Our vehicles do not use a heat pump system, they have been tested and designed to provide optimal cabin comfort with outdoor temperatures spanning -20F to 110F. Outside that range, our HVAC system will still deliver relative comfort to occupants so that they can safely operate the vehicle."
Welcome to the forum @MOgeo. That's good to know.
Its one less thing to drain power and thus impact range. Although not by much.
 

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At a significant cost to range (if other EVs are any indication). That's the reason I'm disappointed.
+1 to that.

Anyone who thinks that a resistive element is going to be as efficient as even the most inefficient heat pump needs to go back to physics class....

I am also disappointed esp. since Tesla has already proven this out with the Y and the Cybertruck is shipping with one. Just adding another one to the list...
 

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+1 to that.

Anyone who thinks that a resistive element is going to be as efficient as even the most inefficient heat pump needs to go back to physics class....

I am also disappointed esp. since Tesla has already proven this out with the Y and the Cybertruck is shipping with one. Just adding another one to the list...
True, they are incredibly efficient. There is the noise that they make that would need to be well insulated but worth it likely.
 

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Someone asked about heat pumps and got this back as an answer from Rivian.

"Thanks for reaching out and sharing your interest in Rivian. I'm glad to share that our vehicles have been tested and designed to provide optimal cabin comfort with outdoor temperatures spanning -20 F to 110 F. Outside that range, our HVAC system will still deliver relative comfort to occupants so that they can safely operate the vehicle. All vehicle models and packages offer heated seats in the front row and heated steering wheels come standard. We'll be sharing more details around our HVAC system as we continue further into production.
Stay well and feel free to reach out if you have any additional questions.
Live your adventure, Rebecca"
 

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Someone asked about heat pumps and got this back as an answer from Rivian.

"Thanks for reaching out and sharing your interest in Rivian. I'm glad to share that our vehicles have been tested and designed to provide optimal cabin comfort with outdoor temperatures spanning -20 F to 110 F. Outside that range, our HVAC system will still deliver relative comfort to occupants so that they can safely operate the vehicle. All vehicle models and packages offer heated seats in the front row and heated steering wheels come standard. We'll be sharing more details around our HVAC system as we continue further into production.
Stay well and feel free to reach out if you have any additional questions.
Live your adventure, Rebecca"
Yet another “not an answer” from Rivian CS. I’ve stopped asking them questions.
 

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Yet another “not an answer” from Rivian CS. I’ve stopped asking them questions.
True, they can be helpful at times but its slowly becoming like a slot machine. Fair to some degree as a lot of automakers at this point are very tight-lipped. I have a feeling they'll keep this up till in-person viewing are possible.
 

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Rivian has this patent on their thermal management system, it is not exactly a heat pump but is very sofisticated with ability to bypass the radiator and exchange heat between the coolant and the refrigerant for cabin heating.


As an engineer, I am not concerned that it is not a "heat pump". See this claim:

7. The system of claim 6, wherein the heat exchanger is configured to exchange heat between refrigerant and coolant to extract heat from the high voltage battery system.
 

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Rivian has this patent on their thermal management system, it is not exactly a heat pump but is very sofisticated with ability to bypass the radiator and exchange heat between the coolant and the refrigerant for cabin heating.


As an engineer, I am not concerned that it is not a "heat pump". See this claim:

7. The system of claim 6, wherein the heat exchanger is configured to exchange heat between refrigerant and coolant to extract heat from the high voltage battery system.
That sounds like a device I saw that diverts heat from your A/C compressor to heat your pool water.
 

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Rivian has this patent on their thermal management system, it is not exactly a heat pump but is very sofisticated with ability to bypass the radiator and exchange heat between the coolant and the refrigerant for cabin heating.


As an engineer, I am not concerned that it is not a "heat pump". See this claim:

7. The system of claim 6, wherein the heat exchanger is configured to exchange heat between refrigerant and coolant to extract heat from the high voltage battery system.
I wonder if we'll eventually see that in first year production models as they roll out.
 
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