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Rivian Confirms Platform for Ford EV

Electric-truck startup Rivian Automotive confirms it will supply the “skateboard” chassis to carry a premium-level electric vehicle developed by Ford.
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Electric-truck startup Rivian Automotive confirms it will supply the “skateboard” chassis to carry a premium-level electric vehicle developed by Ford.

Rivian’s upcoming R1T electric pickup

Media reports have, for two months, been citing unnamed sources who say Rivian’s platform is likely to end up carrying a Lincoln-branded SUV in 2022. Neither company has confirmed the new EV’s body type or brand.

In August, Ford CEO Jim Hackett told Motor Trend that the two companies had nearly finalized engineering details for an unspecified EV. He also suggested that Plymouth, Mich.-based startup would assemble the vehicle at its factory, a former Mitsubishi Motors facility in Normal, Ill. Rivian acquired the plant in 2017 at the bargain price of $16 million.

Hackett’s comments came four months after Ford invested $500 million in Rivian in part to develop an electric truck. Ford has said its partnership with Rivian is independent of its plans to build an electrified variant of the F-150 pickup.

Platform Sharing

Rivian’s plant will be humming later this year as it begins production of the company’s own R1T electric pickup and R1S SUV. Both models are due by the end of this year. The trucks are expected to offer a 400-mile range, a starting price of about $70,000 and high-performance editions that could sticker for $100,000 or more.

Next year Rivian will begin supplying electric vans to Amazon.

Rivian’s factory also is slated in 2021 to begin supplying Amazon with 100,000 electric vans. Amazon led a $700 million investment round in Rivian last September. All four products will use variants of the same platform, which will help lower the startup production costs for each model.

Linking up with Rivian is an especially shrewd move on Ford’s part. The arrangement will help it launch a new EV faster and cheaper with less risk, while tapping an additional source of EV expertise as it expands its portfolio of electrified vehicles.

Juggling Act

Rivian’s biggest challenge will be to manage a production schedule that involves four overlapping model launches between mid-year and the end of 2021.

The startup hasn’t said how many of its own trucks it expects to sell in the first year of production. Rivian intends to market directly to customers, just as Tesla does.

Scaringe tells Bloomberg the company will begin by offering its trucks in a handful of states. That suggests Rivian is looking at a modest first-year production target, at least for its own models.

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