Ford makes big investment in Plymouth electric truck maker

DEARBORN—Ford Motor Co. will invest $500 million in the Plymouth-based electric truck developer Rivian Automotive LLC, with plans to work together on designing and building a battery-electric-powered pickup truck and SUV.

“This strategic partnership marks another key milestone in our drive to accelerate the transition to sustainable mobility,” said Robert “RJ” Scaringe, Rivian founder and CEO. “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.”

Ford Motor executive chairman Bill Ford added: “We are excited to invest in and partner with Rivian. I have gotten to know and respect RJ, and we share a common goal to create a sustainable future for our industry through innovation.”

Rivian officials say the company’s launch products—the five-passenger R1T pickup and seven-passenger R1S SUV—will deliver up to 400-plus miles of range and provide an unmatched combination of performance, off-road capability and utility, starting in late 2020.

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

Ford intends to develop a new vehicle using Rivian’s flexible skateboard platform. This is in addition to Ford’s existing plans to develop a portfolio of battery electric vehicles. As part of its previously announced $11 billion EV investment, Ford already has confirmed two key fully electric vehicles: a Mustang-inspired crossover coming in 2020 and a zero-emissions version of the best-selling F-150 pickup.

Rivian remains an independent company. The investment is subject to customary regulatory approval. Following Ford’s investment, Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of automotive, will join Rivian’s seven-member board.

Scaridge, who has a doctorate in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, founded Rivian in 2009 as Mainstream Motors in Florida, with plans for a 60-mpg conventionally powered coupe. The company later focused on autonomous vehicles and changed its name to Avera Automotive, before becoming Rivian Automotive in 2011 with a focus on EVs. Amazon led a $700 million funding round for the company in February, and the company earlier got funding from Japan’s Sumitomo Corp. Rivian moved its headquarters to Michigan in 2015, and purchased a former Mitsubishi assembly plant in Normal, Ill. in 2017.

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