Earlier this week, It was reported that General Motors and Amazon were both interested in investing in Rivian, the Michigan-based electric vehicle start-up company. Both could find compelling reasons to invest in the company. However, it is Amazon that’s investing first by leading an investment round that will infuse the company with $700 million. Rivian isn’t disclosing the full details of the deal; however, the company notes in the announcement that it will remain an independent company.
“This investment is an important milestone for Rivian and the shift to sustainable mobility,” said RJ Scaringe, Rivian Founder and CEO in the statement announcing the deal. “Beyond simply eliminating compromises that exist around performance, capability and efficiency, we are working to drive innovation across the entire customer experience.”
Amazon’s reasons for investing are vastly different than those of General Motors if the automaker decides to take such action. Rivian could provide Amazon with new delivery avenues as the tech behemoth continues to rely on traditional postal and package services such as UPS and the United States Postal Service. A fleet of purpose-built electric vehicles could allow Amazon to begin developing its delivery vehicles and logistic systems.
Rivian is a new company in the world of electric vehicles. It was this past November at the Los Angeles Auto Show when Rivian debuted its first two products—the R1S crossover and R1T truck. The company plans to launch production of versions of both next year, and both are quite compelling. Rivian claims a range of up to approximately 400 miles and three-second zero-to-60 time for both. Towing and payload capacity for the R1T is 11,000 pounds and 1,763 pounds, respectively. The max tow rating on the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is 12,500 pounds. This gives the Rivian R1T a ton of capability that should please hardcore truck buyers and enthusiasts.
Rivian’s payload and towing capacity, exceptional range, and well-styled vehicles could serve Amazon and GM in unique ways. For Amazon, Rivian makes starting its own delivery service easier. For General Motors, Rivian has a product that has the potential to meet the needs of today’s pickup truck buyers. Being able to haul and tow workloads without worrying about range could make truck buyers open to an electric pickup.
There’s also a bit of novelty that surrounds Rivian, too. The company has taken a clean sheet approach to developing its products, which unshackles engineers and designers from any preconceived notions about what could be considered an electric pickup truck. And this thinking has given the Rivian R1T some unique features like its ventless HVAC system, a gear tunnel between the passenger compartment and bed, an electric trick tailgate, and more.
The infusion of $700 million from Amazon and others will only help Rivian establish itself as an electric vehicle brand. Investment from General Motors would give Rivian more money to bring its products to market and could give GM access to the R1T. This would be an easy way for GM to enter the EV truck market with little effort, and considering the popularity of trucks and SUVs, a high-quality EV truck could sell well.