GM and Amazon Eye Investment In Rivian

Cornelia Mascio
Febbraio 14, 2019

Both Amazon and GM have their in-house electric vehicle efforts in the works, but neither company has jumped into the market of electric pickups yet.

Rivian Automotive is aiming to produce both a pickup truck and SUV and may do so with the help of Amazon and General Motors as investors. It would be a major boost for the Plymouth, Michigan-based startup, which aspires to be the first vehicle maker to the US market with an electric pickup. There is always a chance that deal talks fall through, the sources cautioned. GM declined to discuss any hint of a deal being reached but stated, "we admire Rivian's contribution to a future of zero emissions and an all-electric future". Tesla and Workhorse are also intent on bringing electric pickup trucks to market - although, Elon Musk has indicated there are several things on his "to do" list that have priority, such as the Model Y crossover. As a unique feature, all of the drive components, batteries, brakes, cooling, and majority of the suspension system fall below the height of the wheels.

Rivian has also said it will license its technology to other automakers. CEO Mary Barra admits that a "tiny bit" of thought has gone into electric pickups, but not much beyond that.

The No. 1 U.S. automaker is counting on profit from sales of conventional large pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles in North America to fund its electrification push. "While we believe electric vehicle pickups are not the near-term future for GM (demand isn't there at a profitable price point), it is their long-term future", Evercore ISI analyst Arndt Ellinghorst wrote in a note.

With consumer preference shifting to larger vehicles and trucks typically the most profitable models in the lineup for established automakers, analysts say the move to develop electric trucks was nearly a given. The company was among the participants in a $530 million funding round that self-driving startup Aurora Innovation Inc. announced this month.

Rivian was founded in 2009 by R.J. Scaringe and has attracted $500 million in investment from Saudi auto distributor Abdul Latif Jameel Co. Standard Chartered has provided the company with debt financing of $200 million while ALJ has invested nearly $500 million in the company; Sumitomo has invested an undisclosed amount.

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