The race to transition vehicles from internal combustion engines to electric drivetrains is getting very interesting. One of the oldest auto makers, Ford has just announced an investment of US$500 million in EV startup Rivian.
Rivian is one of the most interesting new auto makers, especially given their first vehicle is the all-electric R1T a truck that would essentially aim to steal sales from one of Ford’s biggest profit centres, the F-150 line.
The two companies have agreed to partner to develop a Ford battery-electric vehicle using Rivian’s skateboard platform. That’s major.
In my mind, that’s really Ford confirming that they missed the boat and their buying their way to catching up. Despite having entered the world of EVs with the electric Focus (still not in Australia) back in 2011, they don’t have a platform like Tesla that can support different body types, Rivian do
That skateboard isn’t just a cool subframe, its infrastructure for the battery, positioned in the bottom of the car for the best weight distribution. It also houses the electric motor, suspension and brakes as well as front and rear crash structures. While the shell that sits on top of this platform is important, this is the vehicle’s brains and Ford just had to buy it.
“This strategic partnership marks another key milestone in our drive to accelerate the transition to sustainable mobility. Ford has a long-standing commitment to sustainability, with 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.”RJ Scaringe, Rivian founder and CEO.
Rivian have just 2 vehicles, after being founded back in 2009. These include a five-seat R1T pickup and 7-seat R1S SUV. Both of these cars have a significant range which is expected to deliver up to 600km+ of range. We don’t know the exact numbers because they won’t arrive until 2020.
Importantly for fans of the Rivian brand, this is not an acquisition, the company will remain an independent company, while Ford’s president of Automotive, will join Rivian’s seven-member board of directors.