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Rivian secures $2.65B; sees life after Amazon

‘There’s no reason to believe that Rivian will want to have Amazon as its only customer’

Rivian has closed another massive investment round — of $2.65 billion — as the electric truck company best known in freight circles for making the Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) custom delivery van gears up for mass production.

The financing, announced on Tuesday, was led by funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates Inc., with participation from Fidelity Management and Research Co., Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, Coatue and D1 Capital Partners.

Rivian has been on a tear since the fall of 2019, when Amazon ordered 100,000 electric delivery vans from the Southern California-based startup, following an initial $700 million investment earlier that year.

Prior to that date, Rivian had positioned itself as an adventure vehicle maker, focused on an electric pickup truck, the Rivian R1T, and an electric SUV, the Rivian R1S.

In October Rivian released a prototype of the Amazon vehicle, with delivery expected to begin at the end of the year, a spokesperson told FreightWaves.

Life beyond Amazon

Amazon has shown every sign of vertically integrating its electric last-mile delivery business — taking a stake, among others, in Rivian, and more recently, Lion Electric.

Nevertheless, there’s no reason to believe that Rivian itself will want to have Amazon as its only customer, said Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst leading Guidehouse Insights’ electric mobility team.

Even if Rivian doesn’t build complete commercial vehicles under its own brand name, Abuelsamid told FreightWaves, the vehicle manufacturer has been selling its EV skateboard platform to other companies that want to use it. 

“I suspect we will see other companies utilizing the Rivian skateboard platform and putting various types of bodies on that, whether it’s cargo vans or shuttles,” he said.

As the EV arms race intensifies, other manufacturers are following a similar path. Notably, General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) last week unveiled its new vehicle delivery business BrightDrop, offering a first-to-last-mile ecosystem of connected and electrified products and services.

The OEM will invest $800 million in a makeover of a plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada, to build its EV600 electric delivery vans.

Rivian is manufacturing its vans and pickup trucks at a former Mitsubishi Motors plant in Normal, Illinois, that it acquired in 2017. Production of the electric trucks is expected to begin this summer, with the R1T first and the R1S following, according to the spokesperson.

The latest raise, and factory, give Rivian an edge over another well-heeled competitor aiming to bring electric trucks to market.

Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA), for one, has yet to start production on its Cybertruck or long-awaited electric Semi.

With the new round, Rivian has now raised $8 billion since the start of 2019.

Related stories:

Electric truck maker Rivian secures $2.5B in new financing

Analysts: Tesla Semi a ‘distraction’

Linda Baker, Senior Environment and Technology Reporter

Linda Baker is a FreightWaves senior reporter based in Portland, Oregon. Her beat includes autonomous vehicles, the startup scene, clean trucking, and emissions regulations. Please send tips and story ideas to lbaker@freightwaves.com.

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