Rivian, which caught the EV world’s attention with a prototype SUV and pickup truck, has secured an equity investment of $500 million from Ford. Rivian will remain an independent company, and Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s President of Automotive, will join Rivian’s seven-member board.
The two companies will also work together to develop a new Ford EV, using Rivian’s skateboard platform. No details about the planned EV have been offered. Ford has already said it’s working on an electric crossover based on Mustang styling, and an electrified version of its market-dominating F-150 pickup truck.
Rivian hopes to deliver its five-passenger R1T pickup and seven-passenger R1S SUV, each with up to 400 miles of range, in late 2020.
John Voelcker, writing in Trucks, predicted that Ford would use Rivian’s understructure to build larger commercial vehicles like delivery vans, a category in which Rivian has no plans to compete. Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe said earlier this year that his company has turned down multiple approaches from commercial-fleet buyers that want to electrify work trucks. Those vehicles, Scaringe said, weren’t in line with Rivian’s brand.
“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.”
Industry analysts saw valuable synergies in the partnership. “This is…a good fit because Ford has a substantial commercial vehicle footprint as well as its long history as a leader in trucks,” said Gartner analyst Mike Ramsey. “Ultimately, Ford may see a faster way to market with electric vehicles at a lower cost. For Rivian, Ford’s commercial footprint in sales and service is very compelling for a partnership.”