Currently reading: Amazon leads £544 million investment in EV start-up Rivian
Online retail giant helps take fledgling American manufacturer's total investment to around £894.5 million

Online retail giant Amazon has led a $700 million (£544m) round of investment in American electric car start-up Rivian.

The fledgling manufacturer has attracted big interest since its public debut at the 2018 Los Angeles motor show. Today's round, which includes investment from existing shareholders, brings the total raised by the company to around $1.15 billion (£894.5m). 

According to sources speaking to Bloomberg, Rivian is currently in discussions with General Motors (GM) to secure further investment. If a deal is secured, it's understood that GM would be listed as minority shareholder and Rivian would be valued at between $1bn and $2bn (£778m and £1.56bn). It will remain an independent company.

Rivian is aiming to bring the first electric pick-up truck to market. It only announced itself to the world last year despite having been developing and producing electric platforms since 2009. 

Rivian R1S SUV and R1T pick-up aim to shake up the 4x4 market

Rivian is hoping to have the kind of impact Tesla has made in shaking up the established automotive set and believes it has found a niche with the creation of go-anywhere electric vehicles.

The R1T pick-up and R1S seven-seat SUV, the first and second in a series of models eventually planned, are built on a bespoke electric ‘skateboard’ chassis that is modular and can be used on all different types and sizes of vehicles. The initial pair are closely related, the chief difference being a slightly shorter wheelbase in the R1S. The R1S is 5040mm long, making it Range Rover-sized, while the 5465mm-long R1T is marginally longer than the Mercedes-Benz X-Class.

Rs1 0060b

In both cars, the lithium ion battery pack is mounted in the floor. The R1T is good for a 230-mile range in its standard 105kWh capacity, a 300-mile range with a 135kWh battery pack, or up to 400 miles with a 180kWh ‘mega-pack’. In the R1S, the same battery packs are offered with ranges of of 240, 310 and 420 miles respectively.

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The two models share their drivetrains, too. Four electric motors, one for each wheel, give them four-wheel drive. Each motor produces 197bhp (total combined figures through the gearbox are 754bhp and 826lb ft in the 135kWh version), which allows for prodigious performance. It’s claimed both vehicles can crack 0-60mph in just 3.0sec and 0-100mph in less than 7.0sec in the 135kWh versions.

Double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension features, alongside air springs and adaptive dampers. Rivian claims the electric drivetrain and chassis set-up allows for both impressive on-road performance and handling and precise off-road control that surpasses any existing mechanical solutions. Its flat floor is also reinforced with carbonfibre and Kevlar to protect the battery pack, while both models get five-star crash test safety ratings in the US.

A distinctive front-end exterior design appears on both cars, while the spacious interiors get premium but durable materials that are easy to clean, in keeping with the cars’ off-road lifestyle brief. Two screens feature inside, running Rivian’s own software and graphics.

There are packs of novel hidden features and clever solutions in both models, including a 330-litre front storage under the nose, and the pick-up has a full-width storage compartment between the rear doors and rear wheels that’s good for housing golf clubs.

Rivian r1t 0

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Rivian, first formed in 2009, is looking to do things differently from other start-ups by having its entire business plan and funding in place before going public with its intentions, and even then keeping targets conservative.

Company founder and CEO RJ Scaringe has already gone through two stillborn versions of the R1T to get to this third, production-ready version.

The US-based company is backed by investors from the Middle East, and employs some 750 people worldwide. Its design and engineering centre is based in Plymouth, Michigan, and other key sites include a battery development facility in Irvine, California. It has opened an advanced engineering centre in Chertsey, Surrey, too.

97 Rivian r1t reveal hero rear

Manufacturing will take place at an old Mitsubishi plant in Illinois, bought by Rivian for $16 million (£12.5m) last year. This has a capacity of up to 350,000 units per year.

Rivian’s ambitions are much lower than that initially, with plans to be selling some 50,000-60,000 of its premium electric off-roaders by 2025-2026. It does, however, plan to offer its electric skateboard chassis to other companies – either car makers or any brand looking to launch an electric car – as long as their products don't compete with Rivian’s own. The R1T will go into production in late 2020 with the R1S in early 2021, the former priced from around $70,000 (£55,000). Right-hand drive production for the UK will follow around a year later.

Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

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lambo58 17 February 2019

Another reason jlr better get

Another reason jlr better get its shit together and electrify 

At the same time electric engines have far fewer moving parts so even they might be able to build something that doesn't break down as often...

Somehow I doubt it.

275not599 17 February 2019

The range figures of 210-420

The range figures of 210-420 miles are of course in ideal conditions with a light load.  I use a diesel pickup to tow horses and some of the venues are 200-400 miles away.  In fact I once towed my horse 510 miles without filling up.  How many miles does the Rivian do towing horses with full aircon?  How many charging stations are set up to cope with a truck and trailer?  What are the horses supposed to do while it recharges?  I may be an outlier but "the leisure industry" also tows boats, caravans and trailers with all sorts of stuff packed on them.  Indulging in the amazing acceleration will short an already short range.  I like the Rivian and I think there is a market for it but it's a light duty sport truck that can be used for towing locally, say to the dump, not a proper work truck.

lynx_800 15 February 2019

just wait...

You say all of this won't take off but I reckon you are being the stupidest of the lot in this thread...

If Amazon has invested in this then I reckon there is a lot of hope in the brand.  After all Amazon hasn't become the second company in history to become a trillion dollar company by nothing - there must be a reason behind it.