By on February 13, 2019

Rivian Automotive made a big splash at last year’s Los Angeles Auto Show with its fully electric R1T pickup and R1S SUV, and General Motors apparently liked what it saw.

According to sources who spoke to Reuters and Bloomberg, GM is interested in acquiring a piece of Rivian’s action. The Detroit automaker, which recently expressed interest in building an electric pickup of its own, is reportedly in talks to invest in the Plymouth, Michigan-based company.

GM isn’t alone in thinking Rivian has the right stuff. Amazon is also in talks with the fledgling automaker, sources say. The combined investments, if made, would see Rivian valued somewhere between $1 billion to $2 billion, with GM and Amazon holding minority stakes in the company.

What’s in it for GM? A dedicated electric platform and long-range battery packs, for starters. Rivian plans to license its chassis to other automakers, and GM doesn’t want to be left behind by rival Ford. It would also prefer to avoid the huge development costs and lengthy timeline associated with such a project.

Last month, Ford officially confirmed plans to build an electric version of its F-150 pickup.

Rivian’s R1T is no slouch. According to the company, the truck fields a quartet of electric motors driving each wheel, with a total output of between 402 and 753 hp, depending on configuration. Its battery packs would come in three flavours: 105 kWh, 135 kWh, and 180 kWh, with range pegged at over 400 miles on the high end. Even the lowliest pack would prove sufficient for 230 miles of gas-free driving, Rivian claims.

While EV startups are nothing new, Rivian has a lot of things going for it. For one, it’s not just a Silicon Valley office flinging out wild promises with little interest in the complexities associated with actually building a vehicle. In 2017, Rivian bought the old Mitsubishi assembly plant in Normal, Illinois for a rock-bottom price. It’s not a hollowed-out shell, either.

In a November interview with Automotive News, Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe said bringing the plant online won’t be all that expensive.

“We’ll spend about one-tenth what you’d normally spend on a plant — about $150 million,” he said.

“We’re lucky. We have a very large stamping operation in the facility, with some of the largest presses in North America. You could never spend $100 million to build up a stamping operation if you were starting with a clean sheet. And we got that for free. And all those presses have a lot more capacity than we can immediately use. So we’re in the process of negotiating to have a supplier actually come in and operate the presses inside our plant.”

Rivian’s engineering center and HQ sits in close proximity to America’s automotive nerve center and a multitude of suppliers, while its two California facilities handle the batteries, electrical hardware, software, and (of course) self-driving technology. To any observer, Rivian looks like a viable, pragmatic automaker. No emergency tent building, etc.

Naturally, GM didn’t confirm the talks, though it did sing the company’s praises.

“We admire Rivian’s contribution to a future of zero emissions and an all-electric future,” the automaker said in an email to Reuters. The news agency’s sources claim a deal could come as early as this month, though Bloomberg reports an announcement could come on Friday.

[Images: Rivian Automotive]

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15 Comments on “GM Looking to Invest in Electric Pickup Maker Rivian: Report...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “To any observer, Rivian looks like a viable, pragmatic automaker. No emergency tent building, etc.”


    A ‘viable, pragmatic automaker’ is one who actually produces vehicles.

    • 0 avatar

      Viability implies capabality. And they do appear capable.

      I’ll give them bonus points just for not promising rocket rides to Mars.

    • 0 avatar

      @SCE: +1

      Lots of issues to be resolved. For one thing battery resources. Being late to the game after the competition has tied up the battery suppliers with long term contracts isn’t a good thing. GM itself has a problem there too.

      What would Rivian bring to GM anyway? GM knows how to build truck bodies, they know how to build EVs. The other rumor I heard seems much more viable. There’s a rumor floating around that GM wants to use Tesla parts and technology. It makes more sense. Tesla has EV related resources like a platform and can supply batteries that would help GM. GM knows how to build trucks and could maybe build the Tesla pickup alongside their own. Maybe a version of the Model Y could go to GM?

    • 0 avatar


      The comparison to Tesla doesn’t hold up; Tesla has real products and a backlog that outstripped their production capacity. As someone who worked in manufacturing I can tell you there are far worse problems to have than healthy demand for your products.

      Rivian has some financial backing but has anyone actually seen a rolling engineering development article, let alone demonstrated pilot production capability? Mature supply chain? Marketing and distribution? After-sale service? A charging network? So far Rivian is vaporware and a promise, nothing like the Teslas I see every day.

  • avatar

    I honestly don’t even know how to parse this. I’m feeling 80/20 on huge and desperate waste of capital/shrewd forward looking investment.

    Better GM than Amazon though.

    • 0 avatar

      Your instincts are correct IMO. It’s a gold-rush mentality and not unique to the auto industry. When the Cold War was declared over seemingly every defense contractor feverishly started developing cellular base stations or network switches to ride the wave. A few small fish were eaten by the established players while the rest died via serial layoffs. I was involved with three of them.

      Then 9/11 happened and signals/communications intelligence was The Next Big Thing. Bidding wars for start-ups by the Big Ten defense contractors went to unsustainable levels. Most never recovered their acquisition costs while those with stock options became millionaires.

      Now it’s cybersecurity and cloud computing. The cycle repeats.

      The car biz is rushing to “mobility” and self-driving and electric vehicles like lemmings. Expect a bloodbath shakeout before it’s all over.

  • avatar

    Hey! The first EV that lets you sit up straight and see all around!

    Why didn’t Tesla do this?

    • 0 avatar

      A Tesla pickup would have been awesome. It would have brought Tesla closer to paying off all of that debt. Is it too late already?

    • 0 avatar

      Musk claims to be working on one.

    • 0 avatar

      Kia Soul EV is excellent in this regard. Very upright cabin, excellent visibility and high hip point. Too bad there are enormous pickups clogging our roads that make it irresponsible to buy 163″ long subcompacts for family use.

      • 0 avatar

        “Too bad there are enormous pickups clogging our roads”

        A number of analysts and forecasters think that 2019 may be the year of the pickup truck, the bigger, the better, with Ford carrying the pennant high.

        From what I have seen on local dealer lots, it appears that the dealers may think so too.

  • avatar

    The CEO’s mother in law is a Florida state senator and his father is a defense contractor who’s funded his whole business on SBA loans. They know a thing or two about fundraising.

  • avatar

    GM would “also prefer to avoid the huge development costs and lengthy timeline associated with such a project.”

    Fascinating! While I was impressed Rivian was able to obtain the funds to acquire the Normal IL plant (Mitsu Eclipse, Plymouth Laser, etc), and even more impressed with their stamping plant, I would think that a large automaker the size of GM, even GM itself–on a bad day!, would be able to develop a new platform for LESS than new company.

    There are soooo many things to be done, so many things to mess up. That’s why Tesla is’s not rocket science, but it isn’t easy.

    The big carmakers have had these lessons. Not to mention the massive bureaucracy now present, that one must confront to be able to legally sell a vehicle.

    If this, “…also prefer to avoid the huge development costs and lengthy timeline associated with such a project.” is a reason, it’s pretty lame, IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      No carmaker has unlimited resources.

      VW has committed double-digit billions of dollars toward EVs, and so far, they’re the only serious comparison to Tesla’s investment.

      *If* Rivian has any reasonable lead on an electric truck, it saves GM that much trouble developing their own. Heck, even the Bolt EV has had teething problems with its early batteries.

      Ideally, I’d want to marry the Tesla battery and drivetrain technology with the coachworks from GM, Ford, H/K, or VW.

      What strikes me as odd is that Rivian has never produced a vehicle – only a couple of impressive functional concepts. That’s a very long way from solving the production issues associated with high volume, so I’m not sure what Rivian actually brings to the table for GM.

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