Ford Motor Co. has taken a $500-million equity position in Rivian, an automotive technology developer and the manufacturer of two electric vehicles, the R1T electric pick-up and the R1S electric SUV. Along with the investment, Ford and Rivian agreed to cooperate to develop a Ford-branded battery electric vehicle based on Rivian’s "skateboard" platform.
The "skateboard" is a common chassis design for the two vehicles, a base structure that holds all the braking, suspension, and cooling systems as well as the battery pack. “When there’s no body on the vehicle, it looks a lot like a skateboard,” Rivian founder and CEO R.J. Scaringe said when unveiling the design last year. The two vehicles, for which Rivian has started accepting pre-orders, share a high percentage of common components, including the skateboard.
Both vehicles will be available in late 2020. According to Rivian, the five-passenger R1T and seven-passenger R1S will have a range of 400-plus miles.
Ford intends to add the new vehicle using Rivian’s flexible skateboard platform to its $11-billion program for developing battery electric vehicles: Ford earlier confirmed a fully electric crossover vehicle (set for introduction in 2020) and a "zero-emissions" version of the F-150 pickup.
“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,” stated Jim Hackett, Ford president and CEO. “At the same time, we believe Rivian can benefit from Ford’s industrial expertise and resources.”
Rivian will remain a separate enterprise, and the investment is subject to customary regulatory approval.