Ford Invests $500 Million in Electric Truck Startup Rivian, Is There an Electric F-150 Coming Soon?
【Summary】Electric adventure vehicle maker Rivian is set to become a major player in the electric vehicle space after announcing a $500 million strategic investment from the Ford Motor Company. The two companies will work together on new electric truck that will be built on Rivian’s flexible EV “skateboard platform.”
Electric adventure vehicle startup Rivian is set to become a major player in the electric vehicle space after announcing a $500 million strategic investment from the Ford Motor Co.
Ford becomes the latest automaker to enter into a partnership with a startup company to jumpstart the development of electric vehicles. The investment will help Ford expand its electric portfolio and might lead to Ford and Rivian partnering to electrify popular truck and SUV models, such as the F-150 pickup.
"We are excited to invest in and partner with Rivian," said Bill Ford, Ford's executive chairman. "I have gotten to know and respect RJ (RJ Scaringe, Rivian founder and CEO), and we share a common goal to create a sustainable future for our industry through innovation."
Unlike Tesla's luxury Model X, which is primarily designed for paved roads, Rivian touts its zero-emissions vehicles as "electric adventure vehicles." The company's R1T pickup and R1S SUV are designed to handle pavement as well as rugged off-roads trails and are more targeted to the Jeep and 4X4 truck crowd or those looking to take their electric vehicles on a outdoor adventure.
Rivian first revealed it's two electric models at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Nov 2018.
Ford and Rivian will work together on new electric truck that will be built on Rivian's flexible EV "skateboard platform." Rivian's skateboard platform packages the battery, electric motors, suspension, braking and thermal system below the height of the wheels, leaving more space for a larger passenger compartment and room for more cargo.
The skateboard platform of R1T and R1S are sealed to allow the electric pickup truck to drive through up to three feet of water without any issues. The battery-powered R1T delivers up to 400 miles of range and produces up to 750 horsepower. Towing capacity is 11,000 lbs (5,000 kg).
The Rivian R1S electric adventure vehicle.
The investment by Ford is the second major investment this year for Rivian. In Feb, Rivian announced a $700 million investment led e-commerce giant Amazon.
"This strategic partnership marks another key milestone in our drive to accelerate the transition to sustainable mobility," said RJ Scaringe, Rivian founder and CEO. "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 is one of the few electric vehicle startups that owns a former automotive factory to build its vehicles.
In 2017, Rivian purchased a 2.6-million square-foot vehicle assembly plant formerly occupied by Mitsubishi Motors for $16 million. Mitsubishi shuttered the auto plant three years ago. The plant located in Normal, Illinois churned out around 200,000 vehicle per year in the 1990's when it was operated by Mitsubishi. Rivian also plans to build its EV batteries at the facility.
Rivian's "skateboard" EV platform leaves more space for a larger passenger compartment.
As part of its previously announced $11 billion investment in electrification of future models, Ford is building a Mustang-inspired crossover coming in 2020 and a zero-emissions version of the best-selling F-150 pickup, which might be co-developed with Rivian.
"As we continue in our transformation of Ford with new forms of intelligent vehicles and propulsion, this partnership with Rivian brings a fresh approach to both," said Jim Hackett, Ford president and CEO. "At the same time, we believe Rivian can benefit from Ford's industrial expertise and resources."
Rivian will remain an independent company. The investment is subject to customary regulatory approval. Joe Hinrichs, Ford's president of Automotive, will join Rivian's seven-member board.
Rivian plans to launch its R1T and R1S electric vehicles in the U.S. in late 2020.
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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