Ford Motor Company will invest $500 million in Plymouth, Michigan–based Rivian in exchange for access to the electric-vehicle maker’s “skateboard” EV architecture. It will serve under an all-new Ford model. The global automaker has previously announced an electric F-150, although with no timeline, and it’s possible that Rivian’s architecture will be used to execute the truck. (In a previous and decidedly unofficial capacity, current F-150s are being used as mules for Rivian’s R1T pickup, as the wheelbases line up.) Ford’s “Mustang-inspired” electric vehicle is due in 2020 as the first in a series of new EVs the company has promised.
The investment, which is short of the $750 million coming from a group led by online retail giant Amazon, maintains Rivian’s independence, although Ford Motor Company’s president of automotive, Joe Hinrichs, will take a seat on the EV maker’s board. Rivian, which unveiled the R1T full-size pickup truck and R1S full-size SUV with maximum ranges of approximately 400 miles last November, says it will bring its first model to market in late 2020.
The Ford-Rivian tie-up announced Wednesday morning comes just weeks after General Motors reportedly pulled out of talks with Rivian. A skateboard-style platform is a familiar tool in EV development some 20 years after GM first showed a concept car using one. Such architectures offer maximum flexibility, as they fully contain the battery pack, control electronics, and electric motors in one package, onto which any body style—commonly called a “top hat”—can be applied. There is speculation that Amazon will use Rivian’s technology to develop a fleet of EV delivery trucks for its own business.
With its access to Rivian’s full-size skateboard—we assume it can also be scaled in terms of size—Ford could develop not just an F-150 EV but also any number of larger models, including an Expedition or Lincoln Navigator–style SUV or a Transit-style van.