Ford Motor Co., maker of the best-selling F-Series pickup trucks, announced early Wednesday that it's investing $500 million in Rivian, the Michigan-based electric truck startup company.
This is viewed by analysts as a coup since General Motors had expressed interest in an exclusive relationship and was rebuffed, according to Bloomberg. Rivian is considered a darling of the tech and automotive industries as vehicle manufacturers shift toward electrification.
The company, which is headquartered in Plymouth, Michigan, has the backing of Amazon, the Seattle-based multinational e-commerce marketplace that also specializes in cloud computing and artificial intelligence.
Ford and Rivian have agreed to work together to develop an "all-new, next-generation battery electric vehicle for Ford’s growing EV (electric vehicle) portfolio using Rivian’s skateboard platform," Ford said in its statement.
“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.”
Bill Ford, executive chairman of the company, said in the statement, “We are excited to invest in and partner with Rivian. I have gotten to know and respect RJ, and we share a common goal to create a sustainable future for our industry through innovation.”
While Ford intends to develop a new vehicle using Rivian’s flexible skateboard platform, this is in addition to Ford’s existing plans to develop a portfolio of battery electric vehicles. As part of its previously announced $11 billion EV investment, Ford already has confirmed two key fully electric vehicles: a Mustang-inspired crossover coming in 2020 and a zero-emissions version of the best-selling F-150 pickup, the company said.
Tesla is considered a key competitor on these upcoming projects.
“This investment by Ford in Rivian makes tremendous sense for increasing the number of options it has for future electric vehicles between its existing current programs and the addition of Rivian’s electrification platform," said market analyst Jon Gabrielsen, who advises auto manufacturers and parts suppliers.
Rivian unveiled an electric pickup and SUV at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 2018.
The company, which had about 750 employees at its various locations in February, has touted a possible 400-mile-per-charge battery range. The company expects to deliver vehicles to customers starting late next year.
Ford’s president of global operations, Joe Hinrichs, will join Rivian’s board of directors.
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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Ford invests $500 million in electric truck startup Rivian