- Ford has announced a $US500 million investment in the electric-pickup-truck manufacturer Rivian.
- Rivian scored a $US700 million investment, led by Amazon, earlier this year.
- Ford may have beaten out its crosstown rival General Motors in the rush to make deals with Tesla’s newest rival.
On Wednesday, Ford announced a $US500 million investment and a minority stake in Rivian, a startup that makes electric vehicles.
In a statement, Ford and Rivian said they had “agreed to work together to develop an all-new, next-generation battery electric vehicle for Ford’s growing EV portfolio” using Rivian’s platform.
Neither company indicated whether that would be a pickup. Ford’s F-150 pickup has been the best-selling vehicle in the US for decades, and the carmaker has said it intends to electrify the truck. That process is now well underway.
Earlier this year, Rivian announced a $US700 million investment led by Amazon. In short order, Rivian, founded in 2009, has become Tesla’s chief rival in the burgeoning electric-pickup market and has attracted the enthusiastic attention of the traditional Detroit auto industry.
Ford and Rivian described the investment as a “strategic partnership,” and Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe called it “another key milestone in our drive to accelerate the transition to sustainable mobility.”
Ford’s chairman, Bill Ford, said he had “gotten to know and respect RJ, and we share a common goal to create a sustainable future for our industry through innovation.”
Ford CEO Jim Hackett echoed that sentiment. “That’s where the joy comes from,” he said in response to a question from Business Insider. Hackett said it was exciting to have thought extensively about advancement in sustainable mobility and then found a true advocate in Scaringe, who has a doctorate in mechanical engineering from MIT.
In joining with Rivian, Ford may have beaten out its crosstown rival General Motors. Before the Amazon-led investment, GM was reportedly in discussions with Rivian about a collaboration.
Rivian is developing two vehicles: an all-electric pickup and an SUV. The company has vaunted from relative obscurity in the past six months to being a darling of the auto industry and a bit of an anti-Tesla. Rivian revealed its lineup amid much hoopla at the 2018 Los Angeles auto show, and its booth at the more recent New York auto show was routinely mobbed with interested members of the media and the car business.
With the Amazon and Ford deals, Rivian has demonstrated that it intends to operate as a junior original equipment manufacture, tightening its relationships with Detroit rather than defining itself against the old guard.
“We have a deep respect for what the auto industry is capable of,” Scaringe said in response to a question from Business Insider on a conference call with Rivian and Ford executives. “It builds 90 million cars per year, without breaking a sweat. There’s a lot to learn from that.”
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