I view it as:I've sometimes wondered if the entire Lincoln Rivian project was just theater, Ford may not have had real interest in developing products together. From the moment it happened I didn't understand what they were thinking. The idea that Ford would hand one of their EVs to Rivian to build sounded ridiculous and redundant. But if it was an IPO investment, that would make more sense, although it sounds too savvy to be true.
1) Ford viewed itself as behind in the BEV race at the time of the deal, and Rivian represented a shortcut/quicker way to jump into the BEV market with a few products by piggybacking on what Rivian had developed thus far
2) they could learn some BEV things from Rivian, and
3) at worst, an early investment in a BEV company that could explode in value like Tesla did, therefore a potential huge return financially.
Fast forward to today, and it seems like Ford's own/in house BEV products/plans/architecture have progressed faster/further than they originally forecasted to the point where (as the article points out) it's not worth the complexity of trying to merge the two companies' architectures/systems, so scrap whatever plans for Ford/Lincoln branded products on Rivian bones.
I agree it seemed odd that Rivian would've built Ford/Lincoln products, as I viewed it more as a technical sharing partnership (Rivian helps Ford with BEV knowledge, Ford helps Rivian with manufacturing knowledge), and I'm sure that's what it's been/will remain to this point.
At this point, the only way I could see a Ford (or Lincoln) branded Rivian-based product would be if Rivian developed something so outside of Ford's typical/existing wheelhouse that Ford saw a market opportunity and wanted to jump onto........I'll make up an example of a LCF type product.....maybe Rivian comes out with one, and Ford views that as a hole in their commercial lineup, but doesn't want to invest in developing their own product, so they work out that Rivian will build "Ford" versions. (we saw them do this before on the LCF with the Navistar tie up years ago). Beyond something like that, it doesn't look like anything Ford/Lincoln branded will be coming out of Rivian factories anytime soon.