Ford invests $500m in electric vehicle startup Rivian

Fredrick Soto
April 27, 2019

Ford announced Wednesday that it has made a $500 million equity investment in the Michigan-based electric vehicle company Rivian, which debuted a battery-powered pickup truck and sports utility vehicle previous year.

Details regarding the agreement between Ford and Rivian are scarce for the moment, but we know enough to understand the general gist of it. Rivian will give Ford access to its EV platform; the latter says it will use the architecture to develop a new electric-powered model.

Having already received US$700 million (A$998.4 million) of backing from Amazon, Ford announced overnight it was injecting US$500 million (A$712.8 million) into the 10-year-old company. This Rivian-based Ford will come in addition to two EVs the Blue Oval is already developing-a performance SUV inspired by the Mustang, and an electric version of the F-150.

At the time that the Ford investment is approved by regulators, Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of Automotive will join Rivian's seven-member board of directors.

As for Ford, it is looking to catch up to rivals when it comes to creating and selling electric vehicles. The vehicle will be part of an electric auto line-up from Ford that already includes a Mustang-inspired crossover and a zero-emissions version of the F-150 pickup. Both models are built on the company's platform, which looks like a big skateboard and houses the vehicles' batteries, motors and all control electronics, allowing for different types of vehicle bodies to be mounted on top. However, they did say that the Ford vehicle will not necessarily compete with Rivian's models.

"Ford's investment in Rivian is a smart one", Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at Autotrader, said in a statement.

Ford is also in discussions with Volkswagen about sharing an EV platform.

Founded in 2009 by Robert J. Scaringe, Rivian is the world's first electric adventure vehicles.

There are other benefits to Ford partnering with Rivian as well. This vote of confidence follows a US$700m ($1b) cash injection earlier this year from tech giant Amazon in Rivian.

Production for the Rivian R1T dual-cab ute and R1S seven-seater SUV is slated to commence by the end of 2020. The company also is starting manufacturing operations in a 2.6-million-square-foot factory in Normal, Illinois, that was once used by Mitsubishi.

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