Rivian gets $1.3B funding boost, for electric truck deliveries by late 2020


Electric-vehicle upstart Rivian announced Monday that it has closed a $1.3 billion investment round led by T. Rowe Price—including new investments from Amazon, Ford, and BlackRock. 

The fresh funding, together with previous investments in the company announced this year, have helped assure that Rivian will deliver product—in the form of electric pickups, SUVs, and cargo vans. 

That’s just what Rivian has continued to confirm for 2020 and 2021. Its R1T electric pickup and R1S electric SUV, both with operating ranges of 400 miles or more in their top versions, are due for customer deliveries at the end of 2020. Electric delivery vans for Amazon, which will use some of the same platform technology, will arrive starting in 2021, with a total of 100,000 due over several years. 

Rivian R1T, R1S chassis

Both of the trucks, as well as the delivery vans, will be produced at the company’s Normal, Illinois facility, a former Mitsubishi assembly plant. 

That brings this year’s investments to more than $2.8 billion, on top of a $700 investment from Amazon, a $500 million investment from Ford (likely resulting in a Lincoln vehicle, according to reports), and a $350 million investment from Cox Automotive. All of this is on top of previous funding Rivian received from multiple sources, including Japan-based Sumitomo and Saudi auto distributor Abdul Latif Jameel—making Rivian one of the best-funded, best-positioned standalone electric vehicle makers outside of Tesla, heading into 2020. 

That said, ramping up to production at the level that Rivian is aiming for—with ground-up new designs—is incredibly cash-intensive. So such an influx of cash is necessary not just for making it to a production start and assuring all the necessary logistics (customer support included) but also making that sustainable in early months. 

On the subject of money, Rivian plans to sell what are best described as premium vehicles. The company hasn’t said anything more in recent months about pricing, but last year when it introduced the vehicles in prototype form it said that it expected to sell the R1T and R1S for starting prices of $69,000 and $72,500, respectively.