By on February 15, 2019

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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44 Comments on “Your Package Has Arrived: Amazon Leads $700 Million Investment in Electric Pickup Maker Rivian...”


  • avatar
    jatz

    Nixon could go to China and I can be fascinated by this EV alone among all the piddly, blind and ergonomically punitive others.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I wonder if these guys have actual auto industry veterans working for them?

    That alone would make me bet on them over Tesla long term.

    • 0 avatar
      anomaly149

      Indeed they do. They have a major engineering facility in the Detroit area for nuts and bolts body engineering, and I understand much of their software will come out of California.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    Tesla has manufacturing people who have worked for the Detroit three or the Asian companies.

  • avatar
    EGSE

    I really like the no-nonsense body style and greenhouse of the R1S SUV. But Jesus tap-dancing on a blueberry bagel…..that face. Carly Fiorina is a stone fox by comparison.

  • avatar
    hpycamper

    “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.”
    Any company that would put out BS buzzword nonsense like this is automatically suspect. I hope they are actually better than this.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      A few days ago NEWSY featured an article on the Amazon/GM investment in Rivian, and the ultimate goal was to have a ready-made EV pickup truck available in the shortest amount of time, with the least outlay of money, for both Amazon (for their delivery business hubs in the big cities) and for GM (for a rebadged Rivian pickup to sell to GM fans.)

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        Why would Amazon deliver packages in an open bed pickup truck??? Heck, why would anyone purpose building a vehicle for any mission, pick a pickup body, of all things? Pickups are fine for when you have no idea what to use it for, and no particular idea how to do it. But noone in the bodybuilding industry, who serve those who know their particular vehicular needs, builds pickup bodies.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          “Why would Amazon deliver packages in an open bed pickup truck?”

          Interesting question. One that should be addressed to Amazon.

          To hazard a guess on my part, a long time friend in Santa Fe Springs/City of Industry CA owns a delivery service and he has ~ 15 Toyota Tacoma pickups to get the deliveries done.

          But the beds of those delivery trucks aren’t plain open beds. They have a specialized, lockable Camper shell on them, a shell that can open on three sides, like some of the Plumbers trucks running around the city.

          The first question I had was, “Why would Amazon invest in Rivian in the first place.”

          The answer was furnished in the documentary.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I imagine there will be a van variant.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    “…is leading a $700 million investment in Michigan-based automotive startup Rivian.”

    What do you mean by “leading”? Are they the lead investor, along with other companies? Or is this some new version of the English language?

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I got caught sending dick pics. I need a distraction to change the narrative.

    Oh look, we’re backing out of NY for HQ 1-1/2…

    My impression of Bezos is seriously diminished.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      My impression of him wasn’t all that great to begin with.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        I had respect for the success of Amazon, alas the Buffets and Gates of the world are rare animals. I guess being a sociopath is a requirement for C-suite success.

        If Bezos’ mobile device was compromised by the paramore’s brother-in-law (or whatever Jerry Springer angle to this story), it is a huge violation of Amazon’s information security policies. Any other employee — even a VP or unit President — would be shown the door.

        It’s good to be the king. I’ll never understand the idea of sending dic picks and FFS someone of Bezos’ success should know better — unless — you think you’re above the court of public opinion.

        The culture of an organization starts at the top. It sure appears the NYT story on AMZN being a GoT level culture has a lot more weight now.

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      It is important to remember that none of us really know Jeff Bezos, the man. His public image is carefully crafted.

      We do have anecdotal evidence. We know he was able to get the US Postal Service to deliver on Sundays. We know that in UPS and FedEx he could not depend, so he built his own logistics network. We know that he has built the best damn retail website ever conceived. As such, he deserves much credit.

      We also know he is deeply committed political partisan, and uses his assets to influence public opinion. We also know he had an extramarital affair.

      As is the case with the vast majority of individuals who raise themselves to positions of great wealth and power, he is a complex individual who is likely unknowable.

      • 0 avatar
        SoCalMikester

        USPS has always been the absolute cheapest way to ship things, and amazon has the volume. it would be nice if theyd allow ebay top rated sellers some way to drop off postage paid items (click n ship)to level the playfield.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        Bezos and Obama were truly a match made in hell for this country’s future. One minute we’re talking about ending USPS Saturday delivery, and the next thing you know these two have mailmen delivering Amazon packages on national holidays, and every package at a loss to the taxpayers who subsidize the USPS in their efforts to compete with commercial carriers for Amazon’s business.

        Amazon’s business which is all about bankrupting national retailers and small businesses alike, not incidentally. The very same Warren Buffet puppets who spend their time trying to deny working class people access to Wal-Marts in the name of protecting local businesses turn around and order everything they buy from Amazon. Oh well. Obama didn’t get elected by the self-aware.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    The renderings lead me to believe the vehicles are unibody construction. Anybody know for sure?

  • avatar
    justathought

    Oh. The C_A is going to be making cars now?

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Usually when you hear about these type of companies, they are selling vaporware or are outright frauds. Looks like we finally have one that looks like its going somewhere.

    • 0 avatar
      EGSE

      I want to believe you’re right, and having real companies as investors that (I assume) did a good job of due diligence adds some legitimacy in my mind.

      Is there any bent metal to be seen, even a mock-up farther along than in clay? Any details on IP/patents they own or have access to? I’m trying to put flesh on this skeleton.

      Recall that Elio also raised money, albeit for a configuration with dubious market appeal in my opinion. And they did have a roller at least.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      As of current, Amazon itself is barely, if at all, out of the “vaporware and fraud” state…… Great shopping website, great fulfillment, some great technology, and many great employees. But still largely in the business of scamming old folks out of their retirements, in order to fund all that “greatness.”

      And Amazon, at least the retail part, was arguably just as great 5 years ago. Which means, such a level of greatness isn’t exactly cutting edge anymore. Leaving doubt as to whether the margins to ever get out of the pension robbing rackets and become self sustaining, will ever materialize.

      As for electric pickup trucks…. ??????????????? At least Tesla doesn’t purposely mount giant barn doors to the front of its creations, in order to look more cowboy at the expense of all and any aerodynamics.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        I’m an old dude and not all of my Amazon experiences were good.

        My problems seem to all be from the Amazon Marketplace where third-party vendors sell me the stuff I ordered from Amazon.

        So my solution was to drop Amazon as a place where I buy stuff. I was amazed to find that Newegg, Frys, RockAuto and a few others I have dealt with, gave me cheaper prices, no tax, free shipment, better service and quicker delivery.

        So, Caveat Emptor.

  • avatar
    RHD

    Electric delivery vehicles are a very smart idea. They would only use “fuel” (energy) when moving, instead of idling or being started and stopped hundreds of times a day. Electric mail trucks would make perfect sense, too. Deliver during the day, charge at night when there is surplus electricity available at lower prices.
    Imagine if your local garbage trucks were electric. You could sleep later on the one day of the week that they wake you up early.

  • avatar
    RHD

    Electric delivery vehicles are a very smart idea. They would only use “fuel” (energy) when moving, instead of idling or being started and stopped hundreds of times a day. Electric mail trucks would make perfect sense, too. Deliver during the day, charge at night when there is surplus electricity available at lower prices.
    Imagine if your local garbage trucks were electric. You could sleep later on the one day of the week that they wake you up early.

  • avatar
    James Charles

    This is good news. The US can use this type of auto industry expansion.

    With Ford and GM encountering issues entering the 21st Century, using globally uncompetitive business models and Tesla poorly managed, this could be the future.

    In the 19th Century many industrialist bought and created the world we live with railroads, steamships and even building affordable communities. Maybe we are going full circle, Back to the Future.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      I’d like to think you’re right! Of course, “welfare capitalists” like Henry J. Kaiser provided services such as housing and healthcare for the welfare of their workers and communities, whereas today’s companies want corporate welfare given to THEM in exchange for locating in a particular community and making use of its workforce. The benevolence of today’s robber barons, with the exception of Bill Gates, seems lacking relative to those of yesteryear.

  • avatar
    CrystalEyes

    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.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    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!


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