Ford will invest $500 million in Rivian and tap the EV startup's modular platform for a future model, the companies announced Wednesday.
The investment will only see Ford become a minority stakeholder in Rivian, but it is enough to get one of the automaker's staff on the board of directors, in this case Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of global operations.
Rivian's platform is the now-familiar skateboard design for EVs where the batteries lie flat in the floor and electric motors sit at the axles. Rivian will help Ford to develop its vehicle on the platform which boasts industry-leading specs.
Rivian electric car platform
For its R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV unveiled last November at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show and due to start deliveries in 2020, Rivian promises battery sizes ranging from 105 to 180 kilowatt-hours, the latter claimed to deliver over 400 miles of range on a single charge. Power in the mid-size vehicles will range between 400 and 750 horsepower, with the output dependent on the battery size.
Ford is developing a portfolio of EVs, including an electric version of the F-150 to go up against an electric pickup brewing at Tesla. However, in a conference call outlining the partnership, Hinrichs said the electric F-150 won't be the recipient of Rivian's platform.
"The (electric) F-150 development has already started," he said. "We don’t want to slow that down."
Incidentally, Rivian is developing its own R1T pickup using the current F-150 as test mules.
Although Rivian is open to manufacturing vehicles for other automakers at its plant in Normal, Illinois, Ford is expected to manufacture itself its vehicle based on Rivian's platform. 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.
As for Rivian, the company plans to launch at least six vehicles by 2025, including the R1T and R1S. Another of these will be a rally raid-style crossover aimed at performance fans.
R.J. Scaringe (left) and Bill Ford Jr.
"There’s an opportunity for Ford to learn from us, and there’s an opportunity for us to learn from Ford," Rivian CEO and founder R.J. Scaringe added during the conference call.
Rivian was founded in 2009 and was previously courted by General Motors for investment but the offer was turned down. In a round of funding earlier this year, Rivian managed to raise $700 million with Amazon the lead investor.
Rivian isn't the only EV startup looking to challenge the bread and butter of the Detroit 3 automakers with an electric pickup. Another is Atlis Motor Vehicles which showed off its own design for an electric pickup called the XT in January.