What Now of Lincoln's Rivian Relationship?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
what now of lincolns rivian relationship

Ford bought its way into Rivian’s good graces — and its proprietary “skateboard” electric vehicle platform — with a $500 million pledge back in April of 2019. In January we learned that the “all-new, next-generation battery electric vehicle” promised a year earlier would wear a Lincoln badge, with most observers expecting that model to appear as a midsize, three-row SUV (mirroring Rivian’s own R1S).

Scratch all that, Ford Motor Company said on Tuesday. The joint vehicle is off the table, but the relationship is still on. So what now?

The automaker said in a statement that it still plans to work with Rivian, and that an “alternative vehicle” will one day be built on Rivian’s platform. In the meantime, however, the coronavirus pandemic that struck a major blow to Ford Motor Company’s first-quarter finances has forced the two companies to ditch their current project.

Lincoln wouldn’t say just how the pandemic scuttled its plans. You’d think the model’s development would simply be deferred to a later date as the automaker does what it can to reduce expenses amid the current production halt and sales downturn. The exact nature and timeline for the jointly developed model was similarly hazy, though a report in Reuters last November claimed the platform underpinning Rivian’s R1T pickup and R1S SUV would form the basis of a Lincoln SUV due out in mid-2022. The model — reportedly codenamed U787 ⁠— was assumed to be a midsize, three-row vehicle.

If Lincoln’s going to use a Rivian platform for something, what should that vehicle be? A flagship halo sedan or slinky performance coupe, or exactly what we thought this mystery vehicle would be until yesterday? A big, green SUV with lowered development costs seemed a fairly decent idea until the pandemic hit; should we return to normal in the future, it might seem like a good idea all over again.

Consult your crystal balls and weigh in.

[Image: Lincoln]

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6 of 13 comments
  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Apr 30, 2020

    "Lincoln wouldn’t say just how the pandemic scuttled its plans" That's because the CV had nothing to do with it. They merely realized that since Tesla is barely profitable with 2X Lincoln's sales, a niche EV in the Lincoln lineup would be a money loser. Another possibility: Rivian's battery costs may be too high. I predict Lincoln produces exactly nothing from the Rivian relationship.

    • See 2 previous
    • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Apr 30, 2020

      @aja8888 "$500 million gone for good!" For good cause.

  • Jerome10 Jerome10 on Apr 30, 2020

    What now? Oh that what now? There is no me and you, not no more. Ford is going to write down the $500M they flushed down the toilet, Rivian will go die in the trash heap, and the cycle will continue with some other automaker next in line at the cash furnace.

  • MaintenanceCosts What a bizarre idea. Keep it legible. There's absolutely nothing wrong with A4E, Q5E, etc. At this point the Q5, Q7, and A4 in particular are such well-known brands that it's just dumb to monkey with them.
  • Ajla After the success this sort of thing brought Infiniti and Cadillac I can see why Audi is joining in.
  • SCE to AUX A plug-in hybrid requires two fuels to realize the benefit of having that design. This is where the Volt fell down.It could be either:[list][*]A very short-range EV[/*][*]A long-range ICE with mediocre fuel economy[/*][*]An excellent mid-range vehicle that required both a plug and gasoline.[/*][/list]If you wanted a short-range EV you got a Leaf (like I did). If you wanted a long-range car with good fuel economy, you got a Civic/Elantra/Cruze/Corolla. In my case, we also had an Optima Hybrid.I'd personally rather have a single-fuel vehicle - either gas/hybrid or electric - rather than combine the complexity and cost of both into one vehicle.
  • Bobbysirhan The Pulitzer Center that collaborated with PBS in 'reporting' this story is behind the 1619 Project.
  • Bobbysirhan Engines are important.