GM Looking to Invest in Electric Pickup Maker Rivian: Report

Rivian Automotive made a big splash at last year’s Los Angeles Auto Show with its fully electric R1T pickup and R1S SUV, and General Motors apparently liked what it saw.

According to sources who spoke to Reuters and Bloomberg, GM is interested in acquiring a piece of Rivian’s action. The Detroit automaker, which recently expressed interest in building an electric pickup of its own, is reportedly in talks to invest in the Plymouth, Michigan-based company.

GM isn’t alone in thinking Rivian has the right stuff. Amazon is also in talks with the fledgling automaker, sources say. The combined investments, if made, would see Rivian valued somewhere between $1 billion to $2 billion, with GM and Amazon holding minority stakes in the company.

What’s in it for GM? A dedicated electric platform and long-range battery packs, for starters. Rivian plans to license its chassis to other automakers, and GM doesn’t want to be left behind by rival Ford. It would also prefer to avoid the huge development costs and lengthy timeline associated with such a project.

Last month, Ford officially confirmed plans to build an electric version of its F-150 pickup.

Rivian’s R1T is no slouch. According to the company, the truck fields a quartet of electric motors driving each wheel, with a total output of between 402 and 753 hp, depending on configuration. Its battery packs would come in three flavours: 105 kWh, 135 kWh, and 180 kWh, with range pegged at over 400 miles on the high end. Even the lowliest pack would prove sufficient for 230 miles of gas-free driving, Rivian claims.

While EV startups are nothing new, Rivian has a lot of things going for it. For one, it’s not just a Silicon Valley office flinging out wild promises with little interest in the complexities associated with actually building a vehicle. In 2017, Rivian bought the old Mitsubishi assembly plant in Normal, Illinois for a rock-bottom price. It’s not a hollowed-out shell, either.

In a November interview with Automotive News, Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe said bringing the plant online won’t be all that expensive.

“We’ll spend about one-tenth what you’d normally spend on a plant — about $150 million,” he said.

“We’re lucky. We have a very large stamping operation in the facility, with some of the largest presses in North America. You could never spend $100 million to build up a stamping operation if you were starting with a clean sheet. And we got that for free. And all those presses have a lot more capacity than we can immediately use. So we’re in the process of negotiating to have a supplier actually come in and operate the presses inside our plant.”

Rivian’s engineering center and HQ sits in close proximity to America’s automotive nerve center and a multitude of suppliers, while its two California facilities handle the batteries, electrical hardware, software, and (of course) self-driving technology. To any observer, Rivian looks like a viable, pragmatic automaker. No emergency tent building, etc.

Naturally, GM didn’t confirm the talks, though it did sing the company’s praises.

“We admire Rivian’s contribution to a future of zero emissions and an all-electric future,” the automaker said in an email to Reuters. The news agency’s sources claim a deal could come as early as this month, though Bloomberg reports an announcement could come on Friday.

a version of this article first appeared on TTAC

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