Ford invests $500m in Rivian, gains access to new EV platform

Rivian founder RJ Scaringe and Ford's executive chairman Bill Ford

In the US, Ford has shifted its focus to pick-ups and SUVs, and it's now developing an electric version of its hugely popular F-150. Through a strategic partnership, Ford will develop an all-new, next-generation battery electric vehicle for Ford's growing EV portfolio using Rivian's skateboard platform.

"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", Jim Hackett, Ford's president and CEO, said in a statement. He also says Rivian will benefit from Ford's manufacturing expertise and resources. A company spokesman declined to provide a valuation for the company, but investor website Dealroom.com estimates Rivian's value at $5 billion to $7 billion. The investment is subject to customary regulatory approval.

Like Tesla, Plymouth, Michigan-based Rivian has drawn enthusiastic reviews from the motoring press for its trucks and the deal with Ford follows a $700 million investment from e-commerce giant Amazon in February. The companies haven't disclosed how that deal will take shape.

Rivian's skateboard platform has a large battery pack in the floorpan and one motor driving each wheel.

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In March, VW and Ford signed a deal to develop mid-size pickup trucks and are continuing discussions about extending the alliance to include electric and autonomous vehicles and mobility services.

"We are excited to invest in and partner with Rivian", said Bill Ford, Ford's executive chairman.

Rivian employs about 800 people at its MI headquarters, California technology and engineering operations and the 2.6 million-square-foot plant in Normal, which the company bought for $16 million in cash from a liquidation firm in January 2017. The company also is starting manufacturing operations in a 2.6-million square-foot factory in Normal, Ill., that was once used by Mitsubishi.

Rivian has said the R1T and R1S will hit the market late next year. The five-seat pickup is aimed at the market for off-road capable trucks with outdoorsy features, a market that electric vehicle competitor Tesla Inc. has not yet entered. Power in the mid-size vehicles will range between 400 and 750 horsepower, with the output dependent on the battery size. They'll roll out in the US first, then to other markets.

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