By on April 12, 2019

General Motors has been negotiating with Rivian, the Michigan-based company developing some of the slickest EVs we’ve seen in a while, over the possibility of purchasing an equity stake in the promising startup. Following news that Amazon was leading a $700 million round of funding in Rivian in February, reports came streaming in that the biggest of The Big Three would likely become the startup’s next backer.

The rumored deal was expected to result in GM bringing an electric pickup to market sooner than anticipated, with Rivian seeing a boost to its funds and manufacturing capabilities. However, talks don’t appear to have progressed as expected. 

According to Bloomberg, tipsters close to the matter say discussions between the two companies have effectively stalled — with no new discourse taking place within the last two weeks. Similarly, neither side is offering much (via their official channels) to refute the assertion that the proposed deal is dead in the water.

“As we have stated, we admire Rivian’s contribution to a future of zero emissions and an all-electric future,” GM spokesman Pat Morrissey said in a statement. “Talks occur on a regular basis in the auto industry between a variety of partners, but as a matter of policy we don’t discuss who, where or when those discussions might occur.”

While not particularly encouraging, Morrissey has a point. Closed-door meetings are pretty common within any industry, often resulting in nothing more than two sides having some face time before discussions fizzle out. Rivian founder R.J. Scaringe seems aware of this too, as the company has stated before that it would prefer to sell its technology to multiple manufacturers if possible.

Scaringe has also said Rivian isn’t in desperate need of financing because backers, led by Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation and Saudi auto distributor Abdul Latif Jameel Company Ltd., are committed to seeing the company succeed in its existing goals. Rivian has already claimed it can deliver its R1T pickup and R1S SUV in 2020 after raising around $1.15 billion. Any additional funds it manages to procure in 2019 are supposed to go toward its next development phase.

Having already purchased the former Mitsubishi/Diamond-Star Motors plant in Normal, IL for a paltry $16 million, the startup says it’s in a good position to deliver on its promises. It’s currently revamping the facility using its own funds, helped along by several million in state-sponsored incentives. The resulting vehicles are said to yield as much as 400 miles of electric driving range, more than enough to be competitive, as well as “evolving” autonomous capabilities.

As for GM, it’s probably too early to anticipate what the company will do regarding Rivian. While its statement regarding the matter seems a little terse, the automaker is really only reiterating what it said following February’s Amazon announcement — back when the world seemed certain it would invest.

[Images: Rivian]

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13 Comments on “GM-Rivian Talks Break Down, but Rivian Doesn’t Seem Worried...”

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    Put a wee Diesel engine and a fuel tank somewhere in it and I’m sold.

  • avatar

    What is the (presumably unique?) technology that Rivian would prefer to sell to multiple manufacturers?

    • 0 avatar

      That’s what I don’t get. I really can’t imagine Rivian having any significant technology that GM doesn’t. So what else could Rivian bring to the table in such a tie-up? Manufacturing expertise? LOL, no. Marketing expertise? Again no (despite what you might think of GM’s marketing dept). Economies of scale? No.

      Whatever GM was thinking of paying for a chunk of this start-up, the money would go a lot further in developing their own truck that starts with their own vast reserves of know-how.

      • 0 avatar

        Vast reserves of know how???? Have you seen what they have done to themselves since the 80″s??? Have you seen what they have done to Cadillac??? What they are doing with Chevy(joined the boring looking car clubs)excluding Corvette,Camaro,CT6,large SUV’s and trucks……………..they are heading for extinction. They have lost my loyalty(something i never thought would happen)and i no longer care what they bring to the table(except Corvette).

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    With current battery technology and charging infrastructure, absolutely the WORST application for an EV powertrain. Don’t even waste your time. Pickups need to be able to tow hundreds of miles to rural places far from the big city and get you back home at the end of the weekend. For a commercial application maybe OK. For guys like me & everyone else I know that owns a PU truck or FS SUV, this thing would be completely useless other than the trip to your local Home Depot.

    • 0 avatar

      You’re confusing “the actually existing pickup and SUV market” with “a few buddies who tow huge trailers to the lake all the time.”

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        “You’re confusing “the actually existing pickup and SUV market” with “a few buddies who tow huge trailers to the lake all the time.”

        I’m not confusing anything. I live less than a mile from a lake so it would be fine for that. Good luck getting me to rural WI and back every weekend this summer. 350 miles towing round trip and no place to charge once I get there. If you think my needs/requirements from my truck are unique you need to get out more.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Maybe Rivian dodged a bullet by not being tied to GM.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah totally agree. GM proved to be brand graveyard. Cannot see Rivian surviving GM. Most likely GM will steal technology and then force rebadged Chevy with bin counter special interior on Rivian at which point some Chinese outfit will take over whatever left of Rivian.

      • 0 avatar

        “Most likely GM will steal technology” LOL what technology??

        GM may have its share of issues but I can assure you they dont need to “steal” anyones “technology”. Anyone who is an astute observer of the auto industry knows that GM has as much or more EV knowledge and expertise as any carmaker.

        What Rivian has is a small, flexible, corporate structure headed by a team of people with a specific vision for they types of vehicles they want to create. Whereas GM is a large corporation that struggles with bureaucracy in spite of their technical and manufacturing prowess.

        At the end of the day Rivian may be best off to go solo here, but not because of GM though. They would be best to stay independent of any legacy automaker. Similar to the Tesla model just without the Elon craziness.

  • avatar

    The second picture reminds me of a Ford Flex, albeit a lifted, more CUV one. Maybe they chose the wrong dance partner.

  • avatar

    GM would have walked once they saw that the company was essentially vaporware as well – it’s a legit angle that has to be taken into consideration.

  • avatar

    Here’s a question, did Rivian inherit UAW when it purchased the Mitsu/DSM facility?

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