GM Looking to Invest in Electric Pickup Maker Rivian: Report

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
gm looking to invest in electric pickup maker rivian report

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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  • Trackratmk1 Trackratmk1 on Feb 13, 2019

    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.

  • TomLU86 TomLU86 on Feb 13, 2019

    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.

    • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Feb 13, 2019

      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.

  • MaintenanceCosts Despite my hostile comments above I really can't wait to see a video of one of these at the strip. A production car running mid-eights is just bats. I just hope that at least one owner lets it happen, rather than offloading the car from the trailer straight into a helium-filled bag that goes into a dark secured warehouse until Barrett-Jackson 2056.
  • Schurkey Decades later, I'm still peeved that Honda failed to recall and repair the seat belts in my '80 Civic. Well-known issue with the retractors failing to retract.Honda cut a deal with the NHTSA at that time, to put a "lifetime warranty" on FUTURE seat belts, in return for not having to deal with the existing problems.Dirtbags all around. Customers screwed, corporation and Government moves on.
  • Bullnuke An acquaintance of mine 50+ years ago who was attending MIT (until General Hershey's folks sent him his "Greetings" letter) converted an Austin Mini from its staid 4 cylinder to an electric motored fuel cell vehicle. It was done as a project during his progression toward a Master Degree in Electrical Engineering. He told me it worked pretty well but wasn't something to use as a daily driver given the technology and availability of suitable components of the time. Fueling LH2 and LOX was somewhat problematic. Upon completion he removed his fuel cell and equipment and, for another project, reinstalled the 4 banger but reassembled it without mechanical fasteners using an experimental epoxy adhesive instead which, he said, worked much better and was a daily driver...for awhile. He went on to be an enlisted Reactor Operator on a submarine for a few years.
  • Ajla $100k is walking around money but this is almost certainly the last Dodge V8 vehicle and it's likely to be the most powerful factory-installed and warrantied pushrod engine ever. So there is some historical applicability to things even if you have an otherwise low opinion of the Challenger.And, like I said up thread, if you still hate it will be gone soon anyway.
  • Carlson Fan GM completely blew the marketing of the Volt. The commercials were terrible. You'd swear they told the advertising company to come up with an ad that would make sure no one went out and shopped a Volt after seeing it!...........LOL My buddy asked why I bought a car that only goes 40 miles on a charge? That pretty much sums up how confusing and uninformative the advertising was.