Fast on the heels of the reported collapse in talks with GM, electric vehicle startup Rivian announced Wednesday it has won a $500 million minority equity investment from crosstown giant Ford. In exchange, Ford says it will use Rivian’s flexible skateboard vehicle platform to develop a brand-new electric vehicle of its own.
The deal adds to a $700 million investment by Amazon, announced in February. And it comes after a report suggested that talks between Rivian and GM over a similar investment had fallen through.
Rivian has been around for a decade, having launched in Florida in 2009 as Mainstream Motors and moving to Detroit in 2015. It began attracting attention only six months ago, when it first unveiled its battery-electric R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV at the L.A. Auto Show.
Daily Detroit profiled Rivian and interviewed its founder and CEO, RJ Scaringe, on a recent episode of Detroit Public Television’s One Detroit. You can watch that below.
What’s in it for Ford: Ford wouldn’t say what kind of electric vehicle it plans to build off Rivian’s modular skateboard platform or when it would be released. But the deal means it can develop the new vehicle much more quickly and less expensively than if it were doing it on its own. In addition, Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s vice president of automotive, will join Rivian’s seven-member board of directors.
Ford CEO Jim Hackett said the investment is “incremental” to the automaker’s previously announced $11 billion investment in developing electric vehicles. Ford has already announced plans for a Mustang-inspired performance electric crossover, due in 2020, and a battery-electric version of the F-150 truck. The new Rivian-based EV will be something different.
What’s in it for Rivian: In addition to padding its war chest with half a billion dollars, Rivian will benefit from Ford’s manufacturing know-how and get access to other resources. Rivian is planning to launch manufacturing of the R1S and R1T next year at a former Mitsubishi plant it purchased in Illinois.
Hackett said the investment does not interfere with Ford’s ongoing discussions with Volkswagen about jointly developing electric vehicles.
The deal is subject to regulatory approval.