Amazon.com, the world’s largest retailer, has announced it’s leading a $700 million round of investment in EV start-up Rivian Automotive. The deal is significant as it represents a massive endorsement of Rivian, a company headquartered in Michigan. While Rivian has yet to manufacture its R1T pick-up and R1S sport utility — both debuted in concept form late last year — the company acquired a former Mitsubishi plant in Normal, Illinois, to jump-start its efforts (Tesla did the same when it purchased the old Toyota facility in Fremont, California).
Rivian has wisely chosen to target the light truck market — the world’s leading segment in terms of volume. As of today, there are no viable EV competitors in that segment, so the first to market will likely have a significant head start. Rivian’s innovative R1T and R1S concepts have been turning heads at public auto shows, and industry analysts are quick to point out that the platform is easily adaptable for commercial use.
On that note, the Amazon investment could offer more than just cash to Rivian — the start-up has already received upwards of $450 million from Standard Chartered Bank, Abdul Latif Jameel, and others. More important, it opens the possibility that Amazon could order thousands of Rivian vehicles for combustion-free delivery services globally. Plus, Amazon may provide easy marketing and an effortless sales channel when Rivian chooses to release its consumer-oriented vehicles to the public sometime in 2020.