Amazon Invests in Rivian, a Tesla Rival in Electric Vehicles

Mike Blake/Reuters

A potential rival to Tesla in electric cars just got a big boost from Amazon.

The online retail giant is leading a $700 million investment in Rivian, a Michigan company that is developing a battery-powered pickup truck and an electric sport utility vehicle. The automaker announced the new round of investment on Friday, offering few details but saying it would remain independent.

Founded in 2009 by an M.I.T.-trained engineer, R. J. Scaringe, Rivian first showed its truck and S.U.V. at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November. The key feature of each is a chassis that is shaped like a skateboard and includes all the components that propel the vehicles — a large battery pack, axles, suspension, cooling system and four electric motors. The company says its pickup will be able to go up to 400 miles on a full charge.

The deal is the latest example of how the auto industry is being reshaped by new technologies and nimble companies that have raced ahead of many traditional carmakers. While General Motors, Ford Motor and others are scrambling to introduce new electric vehicles, Tesla has become by far the leading seller of electric cars in the United States. Waymo, a division of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is considered by some analysts to be the leading developer of autonomous vehicles.

“We’re inspired by Rivian’s vision for the future of electric transportation,” Jeff Wilke, Amazon’s chief executive for worldwide consumer, said in a statement. “R. J. has built an impressive organization, with a product portfolio and technology to match. We’re thrilled to invest in such an innovative company.”

An Amazon spokeswoman declined to elaborate on the thinking behind the Rivian investment.

Since 2015, Amazon has been building out its own logistics network, one that is a “global, end-to-end network covering all transportation modalities,” Morgan Stanley said in a research note last month. It owns dozens of planes and has a transoceanic shipping operation, not to mention trucks, rail and other ways to deliver products and packages. The company spent more than $27 billion on worldwide shipping last year.

Amazon relies on contract drivers in passenger cars and trucks to make many last-minute deliveries quicker than it can through delivery partners like the United States Postal Service. Last month, the company said it was testing a delivery device called Scout, which is the size of a large ice…

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Peter Bordes

Exec Chairman & Founder at oneQube
Exec Chairman & Founder of oneQube the leading audience development automation platfrom. Entrepreneur, top 100 most influential angel investors in social media who loves digital innovation, social media marketing. Adventure travel and fishing junkie.
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