Ford's $500M investment in Rivian to yield new electric vehicle

Rivian introduces all-electric R1S SUV at LA Auto Show in Los Angeles California

R1S SUV at Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles California

Ford is sinking a half-billion dollars into electric vehicle startup Rivian in a deal that has the companies working together on a new Ford electric vehicle based on Rivian underpinnings. The new vehicle will also help to extend Ford's current battery-electric vehicle offering.

Rivian's founder and CEO, RJ Scaringe, said the startup plans a "broad portfolio" of vehicles on its skateboard architecture, some of which might directly compete with Ford's EVs. "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", he said.

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.

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In February, Amazon said it would lead a $700 million investment in Rivian. The company has been taking $1,000 deposits for the R1T pickup and R1S SUV, with deliveries slated to start in the fall of 2020.

Ford boss Jim Hackett said the partnership with Rivian "brings a fresh approach" to Ford's development of EVs and that the fledgling firm "can benefit from Ford's industrial expertise and resources". The investment is subject to customary regulatory approval.

Leaders from both companies are hosting a conference call today at 8:30 a.m. ET. But he said vehicles it develops with Ford will be distinct, with Rivian focused on higher-priced performance models in the active lifestyle space.

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Scaringe said Rivian has plans for lower-cost vehicles in the future, and both companies said they likely would have products that compete for buyers. Rivian is now accepting preorders on its R1T and R1S.

Although Rivian is open to manufacturing vehicles for other automakers at its plant in Normal, Illinois, Ford is expected to manufacture itself its vehicle based on Rivian's platform.

The company has set an annual target of 20,000 to 25,000 vehicles over the first two years of production, with the ambitious goal of eventually producing 250,000 vehicles per year.

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