Rivian receives $500 million investment to help Ford develop electric trucks

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

Ford Motor Company has announced an equity investment of $500-million (that's around R7,2-billion) in U.S. automotive technology company Rivian, with the deal also giving the Blue Oval brand access to the Michigan-based start-up's "skateboard" EV platform. GM reportedly had been interested in becoming an equity investor in Rivian, much like Amazon, which invested $700 million in the startup in February.

Ford said it will use Rivian's "skateboard" - a chassis that bundles electric motor, batteries and controls - to build a new vehicle for North America.

"We don't have all the answers and we don't pretend to", said Joe Hinrichs, Ford's automotive president, who will join Rivian's board of directors.

On Wednesday, Ford Chief Executive Jim Hackett said the deal with Rivian does not affect Ford's discussions with Volkswagen AG about sharing the German automaker's electric vehicle architecture.

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Rivian already has developed two clean-sheet vehicles with adventurers at the core of every design and engineering decision. "At the same time, we believe Rivian can benefit from Ford's industrial expertise and resources".

Assuming regulatory approval, the two will form a strategic partnership, with Ford taking a minority stake in Rivian. It also closely follows the reported collapse of talks between Rivian and General Motors over a possible investment. Rivian has developed a range of electric cars created to focus on the great outdoors - a Tesla for the outward bound, if you will. Ford is also readying its own modular EV platform that it will use for vehicles to be produced at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant south of Detroit from early next decade. "This is a specific platform that helps us in an area we weren't considering with others", Hackett told reporters on a conference call. The company's launch products - the five-passenger R1T pickup and seven-passenger R1S SUV - will deliver up to 400-plus miles of range and provide an unmatched combination of performance, off-road capability and utility, starting in late 2020.

"The Amazon investment in the Rivian mix may well give Ford an in with the delivery services, possibly with electric cargo vans".

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