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Ford & EV Startup Rivian are Building the First Fully-Electric Luxury Lincoln SUV

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【Summary】With some automakers behind the curve on electric vehicles, forming partnerships with promising EV startups is one way to gain some ground on Tesla. The Ford Motor Company officially announced that it will work with Plymouth, Michigan-based company electric truck startup Rivian to built the first fully-electric SUV under its luxury Lincoln nameplate.

Eric Walz    Jan 29, 2020 11:45 AM PT
Ford & EV Startup Rivian are Building the First Fully-Electric Luxury Lincoln SUV

Electric automaker Tesla has shaken up the auto industry, proving the viability of fully-electric cars. The runaway success of Tesla has left traditional automakers scrambling to catch up on the technology side, while new electric vehicle startups emerge following Tesla's large lead in the EV space. 

With some automakers behind the curve, forming partnerships with EV startups is one way to gain some ground. That's exactly what the Ford Motor Company has done with its partnership with Rivian

The Detroit automaker officially announced that it will work with Plymouth, Michigan-based company electric truck startup Rivian to built the first fully-electric SUV under its luxury Lincoln nameplate. 

The zero-emissions vehicle will feature connected and intuitive technologies and will be built on Rivian's skateboard platform.

The new luxury electric SUV from Lincoln is also part of Ford's previously announced investment of more than $11.5 billion into electrification, which includes the upcoming Mustang Mach-E SUV and a fully electric version of the number one selling F-150 pickup.

"Our vehicle development partnership with Ford is an exciting opportunity to pair our technology with Lincoln's vision for innovation and refinement. We are proud to collaborate on Lincoln's first fully electric vehicle," said Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe.

Lincoln's first fully electric vehicle will join the Aviator and Corsair Grand Touring plug-in hybrid vehicles. The Lincoln battery electric vehicle will be built on Rivian's flexible skateboard platform and is part of Ford's $500 million equity investment in Rivian in April 2019. 

Ford also announced that it will use the Rivian's skateboard platform to develop a range of new EVs.

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Rivian's fully-electric R1T pickup truck will go into production later this year.

Rivian's flexible skateboard platform represents a new way to build electric vehicles and makes the manufacturing process more efficient. The integrated skateboard platform can accommodate up to four electric motors, air suspension, battery systems and thermal systems, which are all integrated into a single "skateboard" assembly that sits below the height of the wheels. It offers symmetrical layout and low center of gravity for exceptional handling of the final product.

"Working with Rivian marks a pivotal point for Lincoln as we move toward a future that includes fully electric vehicles," said Joy Falotico, president, The Lincoln Motor Company. "This vehicle will take Quiet Flight to a new place – zero emissions, effortless performance and connected and intuitive technology. It's going to be stunning."

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Rivian's "skateboard" EV architecture will be the foundation for Lincoln's first electric SUV.

Rivian is one of the few electric vehicle startups that owns a former automotive factory to build its vehicles. The company acquired a 2.6 million square-foot former Mitsubishi Motors Corp plant in Normal, Illinois in 2017 for $16 million. Rivian is converting the plant to produce electric vehicles.

The company is focused on building electric trucks and SUVs, two of the most popular vehicle segments in the U.S. Rivian's R1T pickup and seven-passenger R1S SUV will deliver up to 400-plus miles of range combined with performance, off-road capability and utility. 

Rivian plans to start building the R1T pickup later this year. 

Rivian Raised Nearly $3 Billion in 2019

Rivian's advanced electric vehicle technology has attracted big investments from leading companies. Rivian, which was founded in 2009, received four significant investments last year alone totaling more than $2.8 billion. In February 2019, e-commerce giant Amazon lead a $700 million investment in Rivian followed by Ford's $500 million investment in April.

Rivian secured another $350 million investment from Cox Automotive in September. Rivain capped off the year off with another $1.3 billion investment led by new investor T. Rowe Price in December.

Outside of Rivian's collaboration with Ford, the electric vehicle maker is building electric delivery vans for Amazon. As part of Amazon's $700 investment in Rivian, the e-commerce giant placed an order for 100,000 electric delivery vehicles.

With the popularity of SUVs and crossovers with U.S. consumers, Lincoln has introduced four new SUVs including Corsair, Aviator and Navigator in the past three years alone. Which helped grow Lincoln's global SUV sales by 7% year-over-year.

Lincoln's new luxury electric SUV will likely compete with the upcoming Tesla Model Y and new fully-electric luxury models such as the Audi e-tron, and Mercedes Benz EQC.

Lincoln will cease production of the aging MKZ sedan by the end of the year in order for the Hermosillo Assembly Plant in Mexico to prepare for production of new Ford vehicles. 

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