Ford Teams Up With Rivian, Greases the Wheels With Half a Billion Dollars

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
ford teams up with rivian greases the wheels with half a billion dollars

Not long ago, it was expected that General Motors would sink a pile of cash into upstart electric automaker Rivian. Instead, GM held its horses while Amazon plunked down a $700 million investment in the Michigan-based company.

Now, Ford Motor Company is filling GM’s shoes, offering up half a billion dollars and announcing a co-developed product with the EV company, creator of the long-range R1T pickup and R1S electric three-row SUV. The big question now is: what form will that vehicle take?

Rivian makes no bones about its desire to partner with other automakers and offer its “skateboard” EV platform — with integrated quad-motor powertrain — to those who want it. Well, Ford wants it.

The Blue Oval claims the investment will birth an “all-new, next-generation battery electric vehicle” for the company.

Rivian’s skateboard is a flexible architecture with three available battery sizes, the largest of which is said to propel its R1S a total of 410 miles. Range like this would give any automaker a leg up on competitors struggling to develop such a vehicle in-house. The company’s Plymouth, Michigan HQ and engineering center is strategically positioned to woo Detroit automakers while tapping into the region’s deep pool of suppliers.

Bolstering its appeal are electrical/tech facilities in southern California, with an abandoned Mitsubishi plant in Normal, Illinois (purchased for a song) serving as a production site.

“Ford has a long-standing commitment to sustainability, with [Chairman] Bill Ford being one of the industry’s earliest advocates, and we are excited to use our technology to get more electric vehicles on the road,” said Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe.

While the R1T, scheduled for production in late 2020, has been paraded around to various auto shows already, the company uses Ford F-150 bodies for its test mules. Who know the maker of those bodies would take the plunge?

“As we continue in our transformation of Ford with new forms of intelligent vehicles and propulsion, this partnership with Rivian brings a fresh approach to both,” said Jim Hackett, Ford president and CEO, in a statement. “At the same time, we believe Rivian can benefit from Ford’s industrial expertise and resources.”

Ford stresses that the two existing EV products in its pipeline — a Mustang-inspired crossover due next year and a future electric F-150 — are still a go. In a Wednesday Twitter reply, company spokesman Mike Levine stated, “Ford’s battery electric F-150 has been under development for some time and will continue as planned.”

Nor will the pair-up with Rivian impact talks with alliance partner Volkswagen, which is expected to give Ford access to its MEB electric vehicle architecture. As MEB underpins a range of small- to medium-sized vehicles in VW’s future lineup, it can be assumed that Ford has a large electric SUV in mind for Rivian’s platform.

As reported by Automotive News‘ Mike Martinez, Hackett claims, “This is a specific platform that helps us in an area we weren’t considering with others.”

Again, a big, green SUV seems the likely end result of the Rivian pair-up.

Ford’s $500 million investment, after securing regulatory approval, will see Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of Automotive, take a seat on Rivian’s seven-member board.

[Images: Rivian Automotive]

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  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Apr 24, 2019

    Hypothesis: Let's face it, GM and Ford are pretty backward technologically - this is why when they need new tech they generally buy it rather than develop it in-house. Hypothesis is open to testing. I'll wait here while you list the 15-20 most significant new technologies which GM and Ford have introduced in the 21st century. (Adapting technologies from other industries a decade or more after they were pioneered does not count. Supplier innovations receive partial credit.)

    • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Apr 25, 2019

      Google, Amazon, and Apple buy up companies for tech as well and they aren't known as backwards. Sometimes it just makes sense.

  • JaySeis JaySeis on Apr 25, 2019

    Hypothesis: No one here really knows dick about the future other than it is a variation on the present.

  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"
  • ToolGuy When Farley says “like the Millennium Falcon” he means "fully updatable" and "constantly improving" -- it's right there in the Car and Driver article (and makes perfect sense).
  • Master Baiter New slogan in the age of Ford EVs:FoundOnRoadDischarged
  • Albert Also owned a 1959 Continental Mark IV coupe for 20 years and loved every minute!