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Electric Vehicles

Rivian’s Next-Gen R1 EVs Are Here

On the R1S and R1T, fusion, and a copper shortage

Rivian’s Next-Gen R1 EVs Are Here
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: China just experienced its warmest spring on record • Some residents in Sydney, Australia, are evacuating after excessive rainfall caused a dam to overflow • Eleven people suffered from heat exhaustion while waiting outside a Trump rally yesterday in Phoenix, Arizona, where temperatures reached 113 degrees Fahrenheit.


1. DOE announces plan to speed up fusion research

The Department of Energy wants to to “accelerate” the development of commercial fusion energy. It will put $180 million toward funding fusion research from universities, nonprofits, national labs, and also private companies. The department also plans to create a public-private consortium framework that will utilize funding from state and local governments, private companies, and philanthropies. President Biden has a goal of developing commercial fusion within a decade. Nuclear fusion, the process by which stars produce energy, is seen as a sort of holy grail for the future of clean power, but research into harnessing this reaction has so far been slow and costly, hence the DOE’s new strategy to ramp things up.

2. Rivian rolls out new flagship R1 EVs

EV maker Rivian unveiled the next generation of its flagship R1 vehicles this week: the R1S SUV and the R1T pickup. To survive what may be the defining year of its life, the company is trying to cut the costs of these vehicles without hurting their performance, and it plans to do so by swapping out 600 under-the-hood components for new parts that improve efficiency and in-house manufacturability. For example, the company says it managed to remove 1.6 miles of wiring from each R1 vehicle just by revamping the electrical system. “Rivian has focused its efforts on reworking the guts,” wrote Kirsten Korosec at TechCrunch, “changing everything from the battery pack and suspension system to the electrical architecture, interior seats, and sensor stack.” The new R1S will start at $75,900 and the R1T will start at $69,900, but considering the company is losing something like $38,000 per vehicle right now, Fred Lambert at Electrek is correct when he notes “the bigger question is how much it costs Rivian to build them.”

R1S SUVRivian

R1T pickupRivian

3. AI data centers threaten global copper supply

The rise of artificial intelligence is putting added pressure on the supply of copper, a metal that is key to the renewable energy transition. A recent report from the International Energy Agency concluded that existing and planned copper mines will only meet 80% of global needs by 2030. Analyzing forecasts from JP Morgan and Bank of America, The Wall Street Journalreports that by that same year, the power-hungry AI data centers will exacerbate a predicted global copper deficit of 4 million metric tons by another 2.6 million tons. The IEA has called for expanding critical mineral supplies, and improving recycling. Copper recycling rates are low currently, but the WSJ said “that could change as AI data centers add to strained demand.”

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  • 4. Last month was the hottest May ever as 2024 breaks more heat records

    The EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service yesterday released its analysis of global temperatures for May 2024, finding that the month was warmer than any prior May on record, coming in at 1.52 degrees Celsius (almost 3 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial May averages. The average sea surface temperature, too, was the highest on record for the 14th straight month. The graphic below gives a sense of just how unusual the sea surface temperatures have been over the last year. The increase observed over 2023 and 2024 is in red – you can’t miss it.


    5. Researchers use ‘charcoal sponge’ to remove CO2 from the air

    Researchers at the University of Cambridge say they’ve discovered a new, energy efficient way of removing carbon dioxide from the air using low-cost materials. Their direct air capture process utilizes activated charcoal, a cheap material often used to help filter and purify water. Using a similar process to charging a battery, the charcoal is “charged” in such a way that makes certain ions accumulate in its pores. Those ions bond with CO2, removing the gas directly from the air. Once the CO2 has been collected, it has to be released from the “charcoal sponge” and stored. This is done by heating the charcoal to about 100 degrees Celsius. This relatively low temperature is important, because it can be achieved using renewable electricity, whereas “in most materials currently used for CO2 capture from air, the materials need to be heated to temperatures as high as 900°C, often using natural gas,” the team wrote. They’ve filed a patent for their technology and are working on commercialization. The research was published in the journal Nature.


    Tesla is selling new “Tesla Mezcal” in the U.S. One bottle costs $450.


    Jessica  Hullinger profile image

    Jessica Hullinger

    Jessica Hullinger is a freelance writer and editor who likes to think deeply about climate science and sustainability. She previously served as Global Deputy Editor for The Week, and her writing has been featured in publications including Fast Company, Popular Science, and Fortune. Jessica is originally from Indiana but lives in London.

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