(Bloomberg) — Rivian Automotive Inc., the electric-truck startup backed by Amazon.com Inc. and Ford Motor Co., will provide the “skateboard” platform for a premium, high-performance electric Ford vehicle, its top executive said.
“In Ford’s case, we provide the platform.” Rivian Chief Executive Officer R. J. Scaringe said in an interview on Saturday. “They will provide the top hat, the body and the interior.”
The “skateboard” is the entire platform, including the motor, battery pack, computer systems and wheels. The design is modular and allows for different vehicle body types to be added on top. Rivian is seeking partnerships to scale and grow beyond its own consumer electric vehicle offering.
Ford invested in Rivian in April and announced its intention to build a vehicle using Rivian’s technology. Scaringe declined to comment on the vehicle class or design, and didn’t confirm which party would assemble the final Ford vehicle or give a date for its release.
Pickup and SUV
“We have confirmed we are working with Rivian on a vehicle which we have not yet announced,” Ford spokeswoman Emma Bergg said on Saturday. “We do not comment on future products.”
Rivian’s own R1T electric pick-up and R1S electric SUV are scheduled to go into production this year at its plant in Normal, Illinois, southwest of Chicago. The company hasn’t disclosed pre-order numbers but has said it’s “very happy” with demand for its own cars.
Rivian is also building a fleet of electric delivery vehicles for Amazon which are expected to launch in September 2021. It’s part of a strategy of diversifying the company’s revenues and to “build volume and profitability,” even if consumer appetite wanes or there’s an economic downturn, Scaringe said.
Rivian’s own vehicles, sold directly to consumers, are still expected to account for the majority of its revenue. The projects with Ford and Amazon aren’t affecting production of those vehicles.
In December, Rivian raised $1.3 billion from investors led by T. Rowe Price, taking its total raised last year to $2.85 billion. There are no plans to raise additional funds for now and the company is “well financed,” Scaringe said, adding that capital requirements are sizable to continue the company’s growth and accelerate toward production.
Rivian on Saturday gave pre-order customers in its most important market an early taste of what they can expect. It held an outdoors-inspired event in the Bay Area city of Mill Valley, north of San Francisco.
Ahead of launching its consumer electric vehicles, the company is planning to open physical stores in the Bay Area and other cities in California, which Scaringe describes as Rivian’s “biggest market by far.” It’s also working on a subscription offering, including insurance coverage, and digital platforms for direct sales to its customers.
“The first vehicles off the production line will be going to places where they can be sold,” which means starting in California, Scaringe said. “Rapidly, we’ll be building out across the country.
“And of course the plant being in Midwest, we would like to allow people to take delivery of the vehicles at the plant as well,” he said.
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