Your Package Has Arrived: Amazon Leads $700 Million Investment in Electric Pickup Maker Rivian

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
your package has arrived amazon leads 700 million investment in electric pickup

The whisperings from earlier this week panned out, but only partway. Amazon, the e-commerce giant that’s probably sending a cookbook to your neighbor’s house as you read this, is leading a $700 million investment in Michigan-based automotive startup Rivian.

What’s missing from this news is General Motors, which, according to sources who spoke to Reuters and Bloomberg earlier in the week, was looking to sink its own cash into the company.

In a media release, Rivian announced “an equity investment round of $700M led by Amazon,” with Automotive News revealing the other investor as Rivian investment partner ALJ.

Rivian hopes to start production of its R1T pickup in a former Mitsubishi assembly plant in Normal, Illinois, by the end of 2020. The truck, which offers a choice of three battery sizes, draws its power from electric motors positioned at each wheel. Total range tops out at around 400 miles, Rivian claims.

“This investment is an important milestone for Rivian and the shift to sustainable mobility,” said Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe in a statement. “Beyond simply eliminating compromises that exist around performance, capability and efficiency, we are working to drive innovation across the entire customer experience. Delivering on this vision requires the right partners, and we are excited to have Amazon with us on our journey to create products, technology and experiences that reset expectations of what is possible.”

The company plans to use the platform underpinning the R1T to build a three-row SUV, the R1S. It also anticipates licensing its technology to other automakers. For GM, which recently promised an electric pickup to match rival Ford, this could prove advantageous. Still, some market watchers feel a Rivian investment on the part of GM would just be a ploy to cosy up to Amazon.

Amazon is on a bit of a spending spree. Last week, the company sunk an undisclosed amount of money in self-driving startup Aurora. “We are always looking to invest in innovative, customer-obsessed companies, and Aurora is just that,” Amazon told CNBC.

That’s pretty much the line Amazon’s using with Rivian.

“We’re inspired by Rivian’s vision for the future of electric transportation,” said Jeff Wilke, Amazon’s retail chief. “RJ has built an impressive organization, with a product portfolio and technology to match. We’re thrilled to invest in such an innovative company.”

Will GM seek its own stake in Rivian? The day — and the year — is still young.

Discuss this article on our Rivian Forum

[Images: Rivian Automotive]

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3 of 44 comments
  • CrystalEyes CrystalEyes on Feb 16, 2019

    Let's not forget when comparing Rivian to Tesla that Tesla actually manufactures and sells vehicles. Considering the monumental effort and tireless hype that went into Tesla missing so many of its production goals, does anyone really believe you'll be able to buy one of these next year? I'd be surprised if that were possible even ten years from now.

  • Carlson Fan Carlson Fan on Feb 16, 2019

    I can't fathom an EV PU as being a good idea with todays current battery tech. And my bet is they won't sell to your average PU consumer. The ones they sell will be purchased as a novelty. They will not take aways sales from your typical PU consumer. I can see where they would make sense as a delivery vehicle though as they'll never leave the city/suburbs and won't be towing. But towing the boat, camper, snowmobile trailer, etc., out of town for the weekend where there is no place to charge, and won't be for a long long time. Good luck with that!

    • Jatz Jatz on Feb 16, 2019

      I agree; they'll be an EV Ridgeline and that's fine.

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  • Prabirmehta I charge my EV at home 100% of the time. The EV is used for in-town driving and the gas guzzling SUV is used for out of town trips. This results in a huge cost saving and rare trips to the gas station.
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