Although Elon Musk’s Tesla continues to dominate the electric car market, the automaker’s promised Cybertruck seems to be getting further and further away. Production delays pushing the release to 2022 (and possibly beyond) mean there’s space in the market for an electric truck. But the list of serious competitors is short: The Nikola Badger has been pushed to late 2022 at the earliest, and the Ford Lighting is part of an established brand, leaving only Rivian as a player in the electric truck market looking for new investments.
Recent $2.5 billion investment in Rivian
Rivian has received major investments over the past few years, representing significant interest from big players in the financial market. Investments have totaled over $2.5 billion each of the last three years, and Rivian recently announced it completed another round of funding in 2021. With a total of over $10 billion invested in its offerings, the company is quickly on its way to challenging the electric truck space. Two notable investors in the most recent round have been Amazon and Ford.
The two companies have a particular interest in Rivian’s technology, with Ford investing in electric vehicles and Amazon searching for ways to optimize package delivery. Interestingly, both Ford and Amazon were some of Rivian’s initial investors in 2019. Amazon was the first investor listed in February 2019, contributing $700 million to a funding round for the fledgling EV manufacturer. Two months later, Ford invested $500 million with promises to collaborate on future projects.
Ford and Amazon aren’t new investors
At the end of 2019, Rivian closed another round of funding totaling $1.3 billion. T. Rowe Price Associates led the investment, but Amazon and Ford were part of it as well. T. Rowe Price Associates (which has also invested in GM) would go on to invest $2.5 billion in both 2020 and 2021, leading to the July 2021 funding round. Last month, Rivian received another $2.5 billion. Ford and Amazon were leading contributors.
Technically, Ford and Rivian are competitors in the electric truck market. But buyers looking for something novel and exciting will likely shy away from the established brand and check out the new company. On the other hand, the Ford brand has over a century of reliable history. Consumers who planned to purchase a Ford pickup anyway might be tempted to try one of the Lightning models. It seems likely the Ford/Rivian partnership will be profitable for both sides.
Why Rivian might be just what Amazon needs
On the other hand, Amazon hasn’t taken any steps to enter the electric truck market — yet. Its partnership with Rivian revolved around developing an electric delivery van using the EV maker’s skateboard platform. As Amazon’s e-commerce reach expands, millions of customers will order products for the first time. For both economic and climate reasons, the massive company is always looking to optimize its fleet of delivery vans. Going full electric with its delivery trucks would save money and emissions, and Amazon believes Rivian has the technology to make that happen.
When Amazon’s Jeff Bezos flew to the edge of space in July, he reached the launch pad in a 2021 Rivian R1S SUV. The Rivian partnership isn’t a minor investment where Amazon is looking to return 5%. Bezos is signaling that the companies are in it for the long haul together. Rivian’s investors so far have been a list of massive, successful companies. Whether Rivian will join them in that pantheon is hard to forecast, but this new deal will put the spotlight on them.