EV Startup Rivian Gets More Funding from Ford, Amazon

A new $1.3-billion funding round for electric-truck startup Rivian indicates continuing confidence from current investors.

Rivian R1T battery-electric pickup truck. (Rivian)

Rivian, the startup electric vehicle (EV) developer focusing on pickup trucks, SUVs and commercial delivery vehicles, announced on Dec. 23 that it completed a new $1.3-billion round of funding that included additional investment from current stakeholders Ford and Amazon. The latest funding round is the company’s fourth for 2019 and brings the cumulative total of announced investment to $2.85 billion.

The “skateboard” platform on which both proposed Rivian truck models are based. (Rivian)

“This investment demonstrates confidence in our team, products, technology and strategy,” said Rivian CEO R.J. Scaringe in a press release. Early in 2019, Rivian engaged a $700-million funding round led by Amazon – which intends to develop delivery vans with Rivian – followed by Ford’s announcement in April that it was directly investing $500 million in Rivian and that the two companies would collaborate on a vehicle. In September, Cox Automotive invested $350 million in Rivian.

Working on Rivian’s lithium-ion battery pack at the company’s Battery Technology Center in Irvine, Calif. (Rivian)
Cabin of the R1T pickup. (Rivian)

Rivian continues to develop its own interpretation of the auto industry’s broadly accepted “skateboard” concept for EV platforms that can accommodate a range of modular propulsion and driveline layouts, with the battery pack centered low in the middle of the frame and drive motors at either or both axles. It’s also possible investors such as Ford could employ aspects of Rivian-developed technology for their own EVs, such as the electric version of the best-selling F-150 pickup that Ford has confirmed it will produce in the 2021 timeframe.

But anticipation remains for Rivian’s own radically styled and engineered R1T pickup and R1S SUV based on the company’s skateboard platform. Rivian has offered few recent updates on the two EVs that are slated to be produced at the company’s assembly plant in Normal, Illinois. Rivian’s statement announcing the latest funding round said customer deliveries of those vehicles are “expected to begin at the end of 2020.” Both vehicles will feature a drive motor at each axle and a lithium-ion battery pack claimed to offer up to 400 miles (644 km) of driving range.