Amazon and GM Considers Investment in Electric Truck Startup Rivian
【Summary】A hefty investment in the business, which could come to fruition by the end of this month, would allow both companies to become minority stakeholders.
The race to build electric trucks is heating up, as Amazon and General Motors (GM) look for ways to enter the rapidly growing market. According to reports, both successful brands recently held discussions about investing in electric truck startup Rivian Automotive.
The Michigan-based business has kept a low profile in the increasingly crowded car manufacturing sector – until now. In the past months, Rivian started gaining attention from investors (and competitors) after showcasing two concept vehicles at the Los Angeles Auto Show: the electrified R1T truck and the R1S all-electric SUV. With an expected range of 250-400 miles, the EVs are targeted for individuals with rugged lifestyles.
Fueling the Era of Electric Trucks
Should Amazon or GM move forward with their plans, the deal would catapult the startup's reputation overnight. A timely report from Reuters suggests current proposals would value Rivian between "$1 billion and $2 billion." A hefty investment in the business, which could come to fruition by the end of this month, would allow both companies to become minority stakeholders.
GM did not release any information about the potential deal. However, the automaker did praise the startup for its contributions to sustainable energy.
"We believe the next and potentially imminent major product frontier for EVs will be the highly lucrative and US-dominated pickup truck market," highlighted Adam Jonas, Analyst at Morgan Stanley Research.
To date, the startup has completed financial-backing deals with several high-profile investors, including Saudi-based Abdul Latif Jameel Company (estimated $500 million), Sumitomo Corp of Americas (undisclosed amount) and Standard Chartered Bank ($200 million, in the form of debt financing).
Rivian vs Tesla?
Many analysts are comparing Rivian with Tesla – and while both are in the EV sector, their offerings are very different. For now, Tesla's EV lineup caters to casual and city drivers. Though Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, has entertained the idea of producing an electric truck for heavy-duty applications several times. Moreover, the established EV maker plans to build an electric Class 8 semi-truck for commercial use, suggesting the company is exploring expansion to serve B2B markets.
"Rivian is being cast in the same light as Tesla, a startup that's outside the inner circle of the auto industry, and that's appealing to GM," said Jeff Schuster, Senior Vice President of Forecasting at LMC Automotive.
"GM could clearly do an electric pickup itself — it has the technology and a strong base of pickup buyers. But they don't have Rivian's image and separation."
Rivian's lineup of EVs would certainly turn heads on the street. Starting with the R1T, the company's flagship EV is expected to come with all-wheel drive features. Equipped with four motors, the unit is capable of towing payloads up to 11,000 lbs. When it comes to speed, the R1T can accelerate to 60 mph within three seconds.
Lastly, the highly anticipated R1S is designed for large families and individuals looking for electrified alternatives to bulky vans. The seven-passenger SUV is extremely spacious, complete with ample storage space for cargo. Rivian's EVs will be available in 2020.
Michael Cheng is a legal editor and technical writer with publications for Blackberry ISHN Magazine Houzz and Payment Week. He specializes in technology business and digesting hard data. Outside of work Michael likes to train for marathons spend time with his daughter and explore new places.
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