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Ford invests in EV start-up Rivian

Cheque, please: Since bursting onto the scene at the 2018 Los Angeles motor show, Rivian has secured $US1.2 billion ($A1.71 billion) from Amazon and Ford.

All-new Ford electric vehicle forms part of $US500 million Rivian investment

26 Apr 2019

FORD Motor Company has invested $US500 million ($A712 million) in electric-vehicle start-up Rivian in a deal that could result in the Blue Oval’s first all-electric model in Australia.


Rivian emerged at the Los Angeles motor show in November last year with the off-road-focused R1T pick-up and R1S SUV, both of which are based on its flexible skateboard platform that Ford Motor Co will now use to develop an all-new EV.


Given that Rivian has already confirmed that its two models will be made in both left- and right-hand drive, it is possible that Ford Australia will soon have an EV in its line-up, although further details on the model are yet to be revealed.


As reported, Ford Motor Co already has two EVs under development: a Mustang-inspired SUV and an F-150 pick-up, both of which are unlikely to be seen Down Under ex-factory due to their focus on the European and North American markets respectively.


“This strategic partnership marks another key milestone in our drive to accelerate the transition to sustainable mobility,” said Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe.


“Ford has a longstanding commitment to sustainability, with Bill Ford being one of the industry’s earliest advocates, and we are excited to use our technology to get more electric vehicles on the road.”


Ford Motor Co executive chairman Bill Ford said the company was “excited to invest in, and partner with, Rivian”.


“I have gotten to know and respect RJ, and we share a common goal to create a sustainable future for our industry through innovation,” he said.


According to Ford Motor Co president and CEO Jim Hackett, the Blue Oval’s relationship with Rivian will be of mutual benefit.


“As we continue in our transformation of Ford with new forms of intelligent vehicles and propulsion, this partnership with Rivian brings a fresh approach to both,” he said.


“At the same time, we believe Rivian can benefit from Ford’s industrial expertise and resources.”


Ford’s investment in Rivian follows that of e-commerce giant Amazon, which ploughed $US700 million ($A997 million) into the start-up in February, although the intended outcomes of this move remain unknown.


As with the Amazon deal, Rivian remains an independent company in the wake of the Ford partnership, although the Blue Oval’s president of automotive, Joe Hinrichs, will join its seven-member board.


Rivian’s flexible skateboard platform packages the battery pack, electric motors, thermal system, underbody protection and suspension (double-wishbone front and multi-link rear axles with adaptive dampers) below the wheels.


The five-seat R1T and seven-seat R1S will launch in the United States late next year, while sales will expand to Europe (including the United Kingdom) and China in 2021.


The R1T is available with a choice of three battery packs – 105kWh, 135kWh and 180kWh – with driving range rated at more than 370km, 483km and 644km respectively, while the R1S is available with the same battery options but adds 16km of range.


Every variant has four 147kW electric motors that each power an individual wheel to create an all-wheel-drive system with active torque distribution.


The 105kWh, 135kWh and 180kWh variants have a system output of 300kW/560Nm, 562kW/1120Nm and 522kW/1120Nm respectively.


The 135kWh version is the quickest of the three, sprinting from standstill to 97km/h (60mph) in 3.0 seconds while on the way to 161km/h (100mph) in less than seven seconds.


The 180kWh variant is not too far behind this blistering pace, at 3.2s and less than eight seconds, while the 105kWh version is further adrift, at 4.9s and 12.5s respectively. These performance figures are the same for both models.


The R1T and R1S support DC fast-charging at rates up to 160kW, enabling about 322km of range to be recuperated in 30 minutes.

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