Ford invests $500M in electric truck startup Rivian, partnership will spawn new Ford EV

RJ Scaringe, Rivian founder and CEO, and Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford announce a $500 million Ford investment in Rivian.

Just weeks after negotiations between General Motors and electric truck startup Rivian broke down, Ford Motor Company will be spending half a billion dollars to take an equity stake in Rivian. Automotive News reports that, as part of the deal, Ford plans to use Rivian's flexible “skateboard” platform as the basis for a new battery electric vehicle.

Rivian made waves at the 2018 Los Angeles auto show, where it revealed the all-electric R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV, which offer at minimum 230 miles of range and 402 hp, with as much as 700 hp and 400 miles of range available.

“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 Ford president and CEO Jim Hackett. “At the same time, we believe Rivian can benefit from Ford’s industrial expertise and resources.”

Rivian must be flush with cash these days as Ford's investment follows the $700 million investment in Rivian that Amazon made in the Michigan-based startup in February of this year.

Rivian R1T truck
Brandan Gillogly
Rivian R1T

The new BEV (which will be developed jointly by the two automakers) as well as Ford’s investment in Rivian are separate from Ford's other electrification projects on which it plans to spend $11 billion between now and the end of 2022. Those plans include an electrified F-150 pickup truck and a “Mustang inspired”-electric crossover that Bill Ford promises will “go like hell.”

In a post on Twitter, Ford spokesperson Mike Levine clarified that the new Rivian-based EV will not be the previously-announced electric F-150: “Ford’s battery electric F-150 has been under development for some time and will continue as planned. Ford is using Rivian’s skateboard platform as the basis for an all-new vehicle,” he said.

It should be noted that Ford is taking an equity position in Rivian, not buying it outright. Rivian will continue to operate as a separate concern, though Ford's president of automotive operations, Joe Hinrichs, will join Rivian's board of directors. The proposed deal is still subject to approval by government anti-trust regulators.

The announcement, along with Ford’s pending partnership with Volkswagen on electric vehicles indicates that the Blue Oval is casting a wide net, spreading its investment dollars and resources into a variety of technologies and avenues for future EV development.