Ford Partnership With EV Manufacturer Rivian Includes $500 Million Funding

Unveiling of Rivian truck at the 2018 LA Auto Show (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg News)

Ford Motor Co. will invest $500 million in Rivian Automotive Inc., aligning the maker of the industry-leading F-Series pickup line with an upstart that’s electrifying gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs.

The second-biggest U.S. automaker also is forming a partnership with Rivian, which backed with an investment announced in February. Ford will build a vehicle using the platform that Rivian founder R.J. Scaringe said last week he plans to share with several companies.

Ford plans to bring a gas-electric hybrid version of its top-selling F-150 truck to market next year and has said it also will bring out an all-electric version of the truck. It now will add a vehicle that company officials declined to describe in detail that will be built off the truck-size platform Rivian refers to as its “skateboard.” This will be on top of the $11 billion Ford is plowing into bringing 40 electrified vehicles to market by 2022, including a Mustang-inspired, battery-powered crossover utility vehicle next year.

“We don’t have all the answers, and we don’t pretend to,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s automotive president, who will join Rivian’s board of directors. “We can learn a lot from Rivian.”

Ford shares slipped 0.6% the morning of April 24 in New York. The stock has climbed 24% this year, rebounding somewhat from a 39 % plunge in 2018.


Ford CEO Jim Hackett (Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg News)

Scaringe, 36, has clinched the deal with Ford after spurning a potential partnership with General Motors Co. While the two companies discussed GM buying an equity stake in Rivian, negotiations reached an impasse and appear to have collapsed, Bloomberg News reported earlier.

Ford also has been in talks with Volkswagen AG about tapping the world’s largest automaker for its electric-car platform, dubbed MEB. It now has several options to develop EVs: possibly working with VW on smaller cars and crossovers, with Rivian on larger SUVs and trucks, and engineering models on its own, said Michelle Krebs, senior analyst with car-shopping researcher Autotrader.

“They can multitask,” Krebs said. “This is a smart move for both companies. Ford has been talking about electric vehicles, specifically pickup trucks. You can also imagine commercial vans.”

Ford has flirted with partnering with an electric-vehicle startup before. Bloomberg News reported in July 2017 that the company had held early-stage takeover talks with Lucid Motors Inc. Ford CEO Jim Hackett confirmed last year that the company looked at Lucid, without elaborating.

Hackett, 64, said on a conference call April 24 that the deal with Rivian won’t interfere with Ford’s talks with VW. He said he was impressed with Rivian’s “clean-sheet approach.”

“They were not coming from what we would call the analog world,” Hackett said. “They were inventing.”