Ford Partners With Rivian; Will Build All-New EV Using Rivian Platform

image from photo by Mark Williams

By Aaron Bragman

Rivian Automotive LLC has announced that Ford Motor Co. will invest $500 million in the upstart electric truckmaker, according to a press release from the company. The two will form a strategic partnership in which Ford will get the use of Rivian's "skateboard" electric vehicle platform technology to develop a unique Ford-branded electric vehicle, while Rivian will receive Ford's manufacturing and engineering expertise, as well as its knowledge of lightweight materials applications. Pending regulatory approval, Ford's President of Automotive Joe Hinrichs will join the seven-seat Rivian board of directors.

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The investment does not alter Ford's plans to develop its own in-house electric vehicles, according to the company, with development of a new Mustang-inspired electric crossover still on track, as well as a battery-electric version of the next-generation F-150 pickup truck (which sounds to us very much like a direct rival for Rivian's electric pickup). The news also does not impact Ford's previously announced plans to develop electric vehicles with strategic partner Volkswagen, which is making a massive push into the mainstream EV space. Rivian will remain an independent company, free to pursue partnerships with other automakers, but the company has stated that it currently has no plans to do so.

"This strategic partnership marks another key milestone in our drive to accelerate the transition to sustainable mobility," said RJ Scaringe, Rivian founder and CEO, in a press release. "Ford has a long-standing commitment to sustainability, with Bill Ford being one of the industry's earliest advocates, and we are excited to use our technology to get more electric vehicles on the road."

Rivian revealed two vehicles at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show: the R1T electric pickup and R1S electric luxury SUV. Both are promised for production in 2020, with prices north of $69,000.

The news comes just days after Rivian and GM broke off talks about investing in the upstart EV automaker. Ford's investment comes on top of a $700 million cash investment by online retailer Amazon, bringing Rivian's cash flow to a positive place as the company continues development of its first vehicles and works toward getting them into production.

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