The announcement comes just months after the Michigan-based company unveiled both an electric pickup truck and sport utility vehicle at the LA Auto Show in November.
“This investment is an important milestone for Rivian and the shift to sustainable mobility,” said RJ Scaringe, Rivian Founder and CEO. “Beyond simply eliminating compromises that exist around performance, capability and efficiency, we are working to drive innovation across the entire customer experience. Delivering on this vision requires the right partners, and we are excited to have Amazon with us on our journey to create products, technology and experiences that reset expectations of what is possible.”
The news confirms a Reuters report on Tuesday that Amazon had invested in the firm. Reuters had also reported that automaker General Motors had made an investment in Rivian, but neither GM nor Rivian has confirmed this yet.
The round included investments from Rivian’s existing shareholders. It will remain an independent company. Rivian currently has more than 750 employees located in several locations, including Plymouth, Michigan; San Jose and Irvine, California; Normal, Illinois; and Surrey, England.
It plans to launch its R1T pickup truck and R1S sport utility in the U.S. in 2020, and begin introducing them overseas in 2021. The company has modeled both vehicles on what it calls a “skateboard” platform, which it says it flexible enough to accommodate several different vehicle body styles.
Some industry analysts have speculated that Amazon could be interested in Rivian’s platform for developing vehicles for its massive global logistics needs.
“We’re inspired by Rivian’s vision for the future of electric transportation,” said Jeff Wilke, Amazon CEO Worldwide Consumer. “RJ has built an impressive organization, with a product portfolio and technology to match. We’re thrilled to invest in such an innovative company.”
Trucks and SUVs are also increasingly more popular with U.S. consumers than cars, and customers seem willing to pay more for them, meaning more profits for automakers. The business case for an electric pickup or SUV could be stronger than one for a sedan, given how much money companies have had to sink into electric batteries and motors and how difficult it has been for companies to make money on electric cars.
Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said in a note this week that a successful electric pickup from an upstart such as Rivian or Tesla could pose a serious threat to Detroit automakers, who depend heavily on sales of truck-based vehicles.
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