Amazon Invests $700M in Electric Vehicle Startup Rivian

Amazon, the e-commerce giant that’s probably sending a cookbook to your neighbor’s house as you read this, is leading a $700-million investment in Michigan-based automotive startup Rivian.

What’s missing from this news is General Motors, which, according to sources who spoke to Reuters and Bloomberg earlier in the week, was looking to sink its own cash into the company.

In a media release, Rivian announced “an equity investment round of $700M led by Amazon,” with Automotive News revealing the other investor as Rivian investment partner ALJ.

ALSO SEE: Electric 3-Row SUV from Rivian is Fast and Capable

Rivian hopes to start production of its R1T pickup in a former Mitsubishi assembly plant in Normal, Illinois, by the end of 2020. The truck, which offers a choice of three battery sizes, draws its power from electric motors positioned at each wheel. Total range tops out at around 400 miles, Rivian claims.

“This investment is an important milestone for Rivian and the shift to sustainable mobility,” said Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe in a statement. “Beyond simply eliminating compromises that exist around performance, capability and efficiency, we are working to drive innovation across the entire customer experience. Delivering on this vision requires the right partners, and we are excited to have Amazon with us on our journey to create products, technology and experiences that reset expectations of what is possible.”

The company plans to use the platform underpinning the R1T to build a three-row SUV, the R1S. It also anticipates licensing its technology to other automakers. For GM, which recently promised an electric pickup to match rival Ford, this could prove advantageous. Still, some market watchers feel a Rivian investment on the part of GM would just be a ploy to cozy up to Amazon.

Amazon is on a bit of a spending spree. Last week, the company sunk an undisclosed amount of money in self-driving startup Aurora. “We are always looking to invest in innovative, customer-obsessed companies, and Aurora is just that,” Amazon told CNBC.

That’s pretty much the line Amazon’s using with Rivian.

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

Will GM seek its own stake in Rivian? The day — and the year — is still young.

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