Rivian Preparing to Build EVs for Ford, Amazon, and Itself – New Partnerships Emerging


Tesla and Rivian are both modern automakers dedicated to producing only electric vehicles. Both bought mothballed conventional assembly plants to build their new vehicles. Both have reconfigured those facilities as they grapple with how to disrupt manufacturing as their vehicles have aimed to disrupt the auto industry.

One difference: While Tesla CEO Elon Musk spent nights in a sleeping bag at the end of the assembly line at the plant in Fremont, California, Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe has the good sense to sleep in his own bed while overseeing the developing manufacturing process at his company’s plant in Normal, Illinois.

Rivian bought the Normal plant from Mitsubishi in 2017 for $16 million and is preparing it to make an interesting assortment of vehicles. So far, all Rivian prototypes have been built at the Plymouth Engineering and Design Center, but pilot-build vehicles will go down the plant line in the third quarter, with full production of the Rivan R1T five-passenger electric pickup starting in December.

About three months later, the Rivian R1S electric SUV, which has more content and a third row of seats, will roll off the same line. Scaringe says he wishes he could pull production forward but is mindful of the complexity. Also to be added to the factory’s mix: an electric luxury SUV for Ford and a fleet of large electric commercial delivery vans for Amazon, to be branded Prime.

The factory will have one line dedicated to building a skateboard chassis that all three brands will share—skateboard EV chassis bundle the battery pack(s), suspension, electric motors, and other hardware in a vertically short package so that various bodies can be attached. There will be another line tasked with assembling the three different battery packs Rivian will offer, and it will feed those directly to the skateboard-chassis line.

The Ford And Amazon EVs

Ford is designing its own so-called “top hat”—an EV-specific term for the vehicle bodies that use the skateboard architecture—for its high-end electric SUV, but since it will ride on the common architecture, features such as the company’s unique infotainment system must be designed to run on Rivian’s electrical systems. Scaringe would not say when Ford production begins, but design and engineering are locked in and ready to roll. “It’s a very different product from our own SUV, but it’s still in the SUV space,” Scaringe says. While Rivian is going after the adventure market, Ford will pursue luxury buyers, which leads us to deduce it will be sold as a Lincoln. Scaringe would not confirm this supposition, as it’s Ford’s announcement to make, he said. He did say the Ford SUV is “an impressive product, to say the least.”

The Amazon Prime vans will have access to the same three battery packs, and use the same electrical architecture and some drivetrains, as well as share some engine control units. To finish vehicles so wildly different in mission, there will be two separate final trim-assembly lines at the Normal plant. One will be a high-content line handling the Rivian and Ford products, while a second, low-content line will finish the Prime vans, which are essentially big, empty boxes to be filled with parcels.

Musk has said he wants to revolutionize the way vehicles are manufactured. He raised eyebrows with experiments such as his self-admittedly ill-thought robot he called the “flufferbot,” which proved to be more of a hindrance than a leap of efficiency in its attempts to place fiberglass mats atop battery packs. His firm also started building the Model 3 in a tent in 2018 to increase production. But with those experiments behind Tesla, production has normalized, and the automaker delivered a record 112,000 vehicles in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Rivian’s Plant Plans

Scaringe is not necessarily trying to reinvent car building, but he says he has spent a lot of time thinking about how assembly should be done to meet the unique needs of the varied vehicles his company will build. Out of necessity, he’s mapping out the way the former Mitsubishi small-car plant should be laid out to handle its new disparate needs.

The original Mitsubishi plant was 2.6 million square feet, and Rivian has added another 400,000 square feet. Some aspects of the plant are still usable, including some stamping presses, but they needed modifications to handle the steel and aluminum used in the bodies of the delivery vans and the mostly aluminum bodies of the R1T and R1S—the latter need to be picked up via suction cups, not magnets, for example. Presumably, the Ford SUV will feature an aluminum body, as well, given that the company has embraced that strategy with its pickups and large SUVs.

The partnership with Ford has been helpful in this regard, Scaringe says. Ford spent billions revamping its plants to switch the current generation of F-Series pickups and large SUVs to aluminum construction, and the Dearborn-based company now makes about 1 million aluminum-intensive vehicles a year. Ford employees have been generous with their time and expertise in helping Rivian.

The existing paint shop at the Rivian plant had to be scrapped; designed for littler cars, it was many sizes too small. Scaringe could probably sell tickets to watch the new e-coating process that dips vehicle bodies to prevent corrosion.

Like BMW does at its Spartanburg, South Carolina, plant, Scaringe wants vehicles to enter the tank and flip, end over end, four times, to prevent air bubbles that could lead to rust—picture that body ballet with a 30-foot-long delivery van. The plant ceilings aren’t high enough for this, though, so to solve the problem Rivian lowered the floor, digging an eight-foot pit with giant moorings to house dip tanks that stand about 33 feet tall. Scaringe thinks this makes it the world’s largest dip-process setup.

Rivian was founded in 2009 and has since grown to more than 1,800 employees. It could reach 2,500 or more by year’s end as hiring ramps up for the plant while the development team has continued to expand. The Plymouth headquarters is bursting at the seams. The cafeteria area is filled with desks until more office space on a mezzanine level is ready to house more workspace.

At the Normal plant, assembly will be on a single shift initially, but some areas, such as battery lines, will run a second shift.

The two Rivian models have 90 percent shared content—they are identical from the B-pillar forward—and were designed to have an identical build process for ease of assembly.

Normal has the capacity to make 264,000 vehicles a year. The Amazon contract is for 100,000, which Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said will be filled by 2024. The rest of the capacity is for Rivian and Ford vehicles. On the Rivian side, Scaringe thinks there will be greater demand for the pickup initially, but eventually, orders will be equal for the truck and SUV. And the Rivian lineup will expand.

Rivian lands $350 million investment from Cox Automotive – Follows Ford’s $500M and Amazon’s $700M


The upstart electric vehicle company, which plans manufacturing in downstate Normal, is racing to complete development of its battery-powered truck and SUV for 2020 launches.

Rivian Automotive LLC, the upstart electric vehicle company, has scored a third large investor as it races to complete development of its battery-powered truck and SUV for 2020 launches.

Atlanta-based Cox Automotive, parent company of well-known brands Manheim, AutoTrader, Kelley Blue Book and DealerTrack, is investing $350 million in Rivian, the electric vehicle startup said Tuesday. It is the first equity investment for Cox Automotive, or its parent Cox Enterprises, in an automaker.

Rivian and Cox Automotive also said they will explore “partnership opportunities in service operations, logistics and digital retailing.”

Earlier this year, Amazon and Dearborn-based Ford Motor Co. announced major investments in Rivian. Ford kicked in $500 million, while Amazon led a $700 million investment group.

“We are excited to work with Cox Automotive in delivering a consistent customer experience across our various touchpoints,” Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe said in a statement. “Cox Automotive’s global footprint, service and logistics capabilities, and retail technology platform make them a great partner for us.”

Rivian plans to follow Tesla’s retail strategy of foregoing the traditional dealership model and selling directly to customers. That presents some challenges, namely the distribution of repair parts, and service. It’s unclear if the Cox investment could help Rivian with those issues.

Joe George, president of Cox Automotive’s mobility group, said in a statement: “This partnership opens another channel of discovery and learning for Cox Automotive. Advancements in battery technology and the electrification of fleets are two of our primary focus areas, and we believe this relationship will prove to be mutually beneficial.”

It was unclear what percentage of equity Cox Automotive was acquiring with its minority investment. It will have a representative on Rivian’s board of directors. The two companies will remain independent.

Rivian electric pickup truck will be able to steer like a tank — here’s what it looks like


Rivian’s electric pickup truck, the R1T, is going to have some special features, and one less known about is the ability to steer like a tank.

 

After the unveiling event last year, we took a close look at Rivian’s R1T all-electric pickup truck, and I was so impressed that I ordered one.

It’s equipped with four electric motors, each a 147 kW power capacity at the wheel, while the total power output can be configured to different levels, from 300 kW to 562 kW (input to gearbox).

The system gives Rivian an incredible ability to control to torque at the wheel, which the company can use to steer the pickup truck almost like a tank.

Auto Vision produced a CGI video showing what this tank steering could look like on the Rivian R1T:

While this video is CGI, we have seen an actual video, which Rivian has yet to release, of a prototype of the R1T doing exactly that, and even more impressive tank steering.

As for the other specs, the different power levels (300 kW to 562 kW) match different choices of battery packs, which are another impressive feature since they have the highest capacity of any other passenger electric vehicle out there: 105 kWh, 135 kWh, and 180 kWh.

Rivian says that it will translate to “230+ miles, 300+ miles, and 400+ miles” of range on a full charge.

They’re talking about a charge rate of up to 160 kW at fast-charging stations and an 11-kW onboard charger for level 2 charging.

The automaker is trying to bring the truck to market by the end of next year with a starting price of $69,000.

Electrek’s Take

This CGI video is an interesting example, but I have to say that the actual video we saw of the prototype was way more impressive.

It actually showed the electric truck basically doing multiple 360-degree turns in place.

At the time, we were told that Rivian was working on a way to only allow owners to make that happen off-road on softer surfaces than asphalt in order to avoid destroying the tires.

It could be a useful and fun feature for off-road driving, and Rivian has been really showing the capability of using its electric pickup truck off-road, including with a cool camper mode of the Rivian R1T pickup.

I really can’t wait to test that truck.

Rivian’s celebrity appeal expands to Shaq, showing ‘big’ electric adventure is for Anyone …


Shaq fits,” Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe posted, showing the NBA player sitting in the R1T at Amazon’s reMARS. | Image: RJ Scaringe/Twitter

Rivian’s appearance at Amazon’s tech-focused re:MARS event this week drew some more attention from the celebrity crowd. Former NBA player Shaquille O’Neal paid a visit to the all-electric startup’s display and surprised onlookers by fitting his 7’1″, 300+ lb frame into the R1T pickup truck. “Shaq fits,” CEO RJ Scaringe tweeted after with a photo of the superstar in the driver’s seat.

Shaq himself posted a video of the event on his Instagram account. Rivian’s team is seen in the background, seemingly proud to have yet another celebrity take notice of the amazing work they’ve done with their vehicles. Singer Rihanna attended the company’s local invite-only preview before its appearance at the New York International Auto Show in April.

As the event was only for the pre-order community, i.e., those who have put down reservation deposits for one of Rivian’s R1T trucks or R1S SUVs, Rihanna’s particular interest in the electric adventure vehicles is clear – she wants one.

Another major figure to visit Rivian at re:MARS, albeit not a surprising one given he’s the CEO of Amazon, was Jeff Bezos. In a video posted to Twitter, he’s seen walking around the event and having a look at all the tech on display.

“Got a chance to scout some of the cool tech at the first #reMARS event,” he posted, tagging Rivian and the other companies featured in the clip. During Amazon’s all-hands meeting in March, Bezos stated that he is fascinated by the emerging trends in the auto industry and referred to Scaringe as “one of the most missionary entrepreneurs [he’s] ever met.” Amazon invested $700 million dollars into Rivian during a funding round earlier this year.

Amazon’s re:MARS 2019 event is an information and networking conference sponsored by the online retail giant focused on artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and other related Earth and space technologies, including self-driving. The latest research, scientific advancements, and industry innovations are shared during four-days of networking, keynotes, and information sessions. This was the first year for the event and it took place from June 4-7 at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Rivian’s appearance at re:MARS was announced via tweet on its official Twitter account. “What happens when you combine a thirst for adventure with automotive tech and AI? Meet the world’s first Electric Adventure Vehicle at #reMARS to find out,” it said, tagging Rivian and including the hashtag #alexaauto. RJ Scaringe has teased “Jurassic Park” style tours with its vehicles that would implement the self-driving technology the company also has in the works. Perhaps Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant could narrate, if speculating about connections between the two companies.

Rivian’s CEO also shared some new insights recently about the R1T pickup truck and the R1S SUV in an interview with The Drive. In a discussion about the electric adventure company’s battery technology, Scaringe noted that Rivian is preparing solutions that will enable drivers to recharge their vehicles off the grid, such as auxiliary battery packs. He also added that the the cars would be capable of vehicle-to-vehicle charging, allowing two Rivians to charge each other. “We’ve designed the vehicle so you can have auxiliary battery packs. You can also charge Rivian-to-Rivian, which is a neat thing. You connect the two vehicles, and then I could hand you some electrons,” Scaringe said.

Overall, Rivian seems to be very well focused on developing its technology and appealing to a wide audience of future buyers.

Rivian – Electric Adventure Vehicles – For Those of You Who Wanted to See a Little More Why Amazon & GM are Considering Investing (MV $1B – $2B) – Video| Fully Charged


Rivian-Inline-R1T-Media-002-(1)

Automotive startups always need to be viewed with a little caution, but as Jonny Smith (Fully Charged) discovers, Rivian have presented a very convincing launch. A large SUV and pick up truck at the LA motor show. Most impressive. (And probably why, Amazon and GM are considering investing in the EV SUV and Truck Start-Up – See Article Below)

Rivian is developing vehicles and technology to inspire people to get out and explore the world. These are their stories about the things they make, the places they go and the people they meet along the way.

 

Amazon, GM eye investment that would value Rivian at $1 billion to $2 billion, Reuters reports

Rivian SUV II 5bfdb9b644466.image

Rivian Automotive, which plans to build the nation’s first electric pickup trucks along with SUVs in Normal, is in talks about an investment from Amazon and General Motors that would value the company at between $1 billion and $2 billion, Reuters reported Tuesday.

The two companies may receive minority stakes in the Plymouth, Mich.-based startup in a deal that could be concluded and announced this month, Reuters reported, citing sources that asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential.

The sources noted the talks may fail to reach a deal, Reuters reported. But the Chicago Tribune is reporting “talks are progressing” and a deal could be announced as soon as Friday, citing an unnamed source. 

Amazon, General Motors and Rivian did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters. Normal (Illinois) Mayor Chris Koos and Mike O’Grady, interim CEO of the Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council, did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday night. 

 

Rivian, which plans to hire as many as 1,000 employees to manufacture the “electric adventure” vehicles in the Twin Cities, unveiled a five-passenger pickup truck — the R1T — and the R1S SUV in November at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The vehicles are due in showrooms in late 2020.

 

“We’re launching Rivian with two vehicles that re-imagine the pickup and SUV segments,” Rivian founder and CEO R.J. Scaringe said in a statement at the time of the vehicles’ unveiling. “I started Rivian to deliver products that the world didn’t already have — to redefine expectations through the application of technology and innovation. Starting with a clean sheet, we have spent years developing the technology to deliver the ideal vehicle for active customers.”

The pickup, starting at $61,500, is expected to travel between 250 and 400 miles on a single charge, depending on the model, and is expected to tow up to 5,000 kilograms, or more than 11,000 pounds. The SUV, starting at around $70,000, can travel up to 400 miles on a single charge, said the company, and has a towing capacity of 3,500 kilograms.

Rivian, which received performance-based incentives from state and local governments, paid $16 million for the former Mitsubishi Motors North America plant on Normal’s west side in 2017.

Town officials said in November that Rivian had already exceeded its benchmarks for a full property tax abatement at the plant for 2018, investing $10 million and employing 35 people. The plant had 60 workers at the time. Rivian had about 600 workers at the time across not only Normal but also facilities near Detroit, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

 

The company was required to hire 500 locally and invest $40.5 million by the end of 2021 to receive hundreds of thousands in local tax breaks, plus a $1 million Normal grant, and plans to hire 1,000 locally over a decade to receive about $50 million in state income tax credits. Koos said in November the company may employ 500 when it reaches full production in 2020. “It will never be as populated as the Mitsubishi plant, but it’ll certainly be high production,” said Koos.

 

Mitsubishi employed about 3,000 in Normal at its peak. The plant had 1,200 employees when it ceased production in November 2015.

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Learn More About Rivian Here: Video Presentation

 

 

 

Also Watch Tenka Energy’s Short Presentation on Nano-Enabled Batteries and Super Caps: For Ev’s – Drones – Medical Devices – Electronics

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Amazon, GM in talks to invest in electric pickup truck maker Rivian – Reuters


Amazon.com Inc and General Motors Co are in talks to invest in Rivian Automotive LLC in a deal that would value the U.S. electric pickup truck manufacturer at between $1 billion and $2 billion, people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.

The deal would give Amazon and GM minority stakes in Rivian, the sources said. It would be a major boost for the Plymouth, Michigan-based startup, which aspires to be the first carmaker to the U.S. consumer market with an electric pickup.

If the negotiations conclude successfully, a deal could be announced as early as this month, the sources said, asking not to be identified because the matter is confidential. There is always a chance that deal talks fall through, the sources cautioned.

“We admire Rivian’s contribution to a future of zero emissions and an all-electric future,” GM said in an emailed statement, declining to specifically comment on any talks with Rivian.

Amazon and Rivian declined comment.

The Rivian deal would come as its much larger electric car manufacturing rival, Tesla Inc, struggles to stabilize production and deliver consistent profits as it rolls out its flagship Model 3 sedan.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk told investors last August that an electric pickup is “probably my personal favorite for the next product” from the company, though he has spoken only in general about a potential launch, saying that it would happen “right after” Tesla’s Model Y, which the company has targeted to start production in 2020.

‘SKATEBOARD’ PLATFORM

Rivian intends to begin selling its R1T, the pickup it debuted in November, in the fall of 2020. The company was founded in 2009 by CEO R.J. Scaringe. 

Read More: All-Electric Rivian Truck and SUV Debut

Scaringe has described the Rivian vehicle’s platform as a “skateboard” that packages the drive units, battery pack, suspension system, brakes and cooling system all below wheel height to allow for more storage space and greater stability due to a lower center of gravity. 

He has also said the company plans to partner with outside firms to develop advanced self-driving technology, rather than try to do so on its own.

Big automakers, including GM, have not jumped into the market for electric pickups thus far. GM CEO Mary Barra has said it has given a “tiny bit” of thought to developing all-electric pickups.

The No. 1 U.S. automaker is counting on profit from sales of conventional large pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles in North America to fund its electrification push.

GM said last November it was doubling resources allocated to developing electric and self-driving vehicles, as part of a significant restructuring that included ending production at five North American plants.

GM last month announced a strategy to make its luxury Cadillac its lead electric vehicle brand, revealing it would be the first vehicle built on the Detroit automaker’s “BEV3” platform to challenge Tesla. GM has said one of the first fully electric Cadillac models using the new platform would hit the market around 2022.

Amazon has also invested in self-driving car startup Aurora Innovation Inc, in a $530 million funding round announced last week.

The world’s largest online retailer has steadily increased its logistics footprint, building warehouses around the world and inking deals with Mercedes as well as cargo airlines to help with delivery. 

Rivian’s existing financial backers include Saudi auto distributor Abdul Latif Jameel Co (ALJ), Sumitomo Corp of Americas and Standard Chartered Bank. ALJ has agreed to provide almost $500 million in funding, Sumitomo invested an undisclosed amount, and Standard Chartered provided debt financing of $200 million.

(Reporting by Harry Brumpton in New York and Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit and Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco; Editing by Bill Rigby)

Article provided by Reuters

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