Ford to invest $500 million in electric truck maker Rivian
Inset: Rivian Founder and CEO RJ Scaringe (left) and Ford Chairman Bill Ford. Rivian's R1T electric pickup is set for a late 2020 release.

Ford to invest $500 million in electric truck maker Rivian

Automaker plans to use a Rivian chassis for a future Ford vehicle.

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Cleveland, Ohio – Two months after General Motors (GM) apparently backed out of plans to invest in startup electric vehicle (EV) maker Rivian, Ford is planning to invest $500 million in the Irvine, California-based company.

Ford’s cash comes on top of$700 million invested in Rivian in a February funding round led by online retail giant Amazon. Leading up to the February announcement, several industry watchers predicted GM would be a lead funder of the startup, but the nation’s largest automaker stayed silent.

GM’s exit opens the door for Ford to place a member on Rivan’s board – Ford automotive chief Joe Hinrichs – and use Rivian’s skateboard-like EV chassis for a future vehicle. The Rivian chassis underpins that company’s two upcoming vehicles, the R1T electric pickup and R1S electric SUV.

Rivian Founder and CEO RJ Scaringe said, “Ford has a long-standing commitment to sustainability, with (Ford 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.”

Rivian has been building buzz in the auto industry since the debut of its pickup last year at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Company officials promise that its EVS will deliver more than 400 miles of range per charge while offering 11,000 lb of towing capacity and 750hp.

The EV maker’s truck and SUV are slated for release late next year. The company is restarting production at a former Mitsubishi-Chrysler joint-venture plant in Normal, Illinois, that opened in 1988 (Mitsubishi bought out Chrysler’s interest in 1991) and closed in 2015.

“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,” Ford President and CEO Jim Hackett said. “At the same time, we believe Rivian can benefit from Ford’s industrial expertise and resources.”

The Rivian-derived Ford vehicle will come in addition to the automaker’s $11 billion leap into electrified vehicles that call for an Mustang-inspired EV crossover next year and an EV F-150 pickup.

About the author: Robert Schoenberger is the editor of Today's Motor Vehicles and a contributor to Today's Medical Developments and Aerospace Manufacturing and Design. He has written about the automotive industry for more than 18 years at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio; The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky; and The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi.

rschoenberger@gie.net