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Ford drops plan for Rivian-powered EV

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Rivian says the decision was mutual

Photo by Mitchell Clark / The Verge

Ford no longer plans to make an electric vehicle with EV startup Rivian, CEO Jim Farley tells Automotive News. The Detroit automaker originally announced it wanted to make a Rivian-powered EV in 2019 when it made its first investment of $500 million into the startup. Ford and Rivian already canceled a vehicle they planned to make for the Lincoln luxury brand in 2020.

One reason Farley gave for canceling the EV collaboration was the complexity of combining Rivian’s electric architecture with Ford’s own software.

“When you compare today with when we originally made that investment, so much has changed: about our ability, about the brand’s direction in both cases, and now it’s more certain to us what we have to do,” Farley said. “We want to invest in Rivian — we love their future as a company — but at this point, we’re going to develop our own vehicles.”

The decision to cancel the EV was mutual, according to Rivian. “As Ford has scaled its own EV strategy and demand for Rivian vehicles has grown, we’ve mutually decided to focus on our own projects and deliveries,” Miranda Jimenez, a spokesperson for Rivian, said in a statement provided to The Verge. “Our relationship with Ford is an important part of our journey, and Ford remains an investor and ally on our shared path to an electrified future.”

Ford made its initial investment in Rivian seven months before it revealed the Mustang Mach-E, and just over two years before it revealed the F-150 Lightning. But it has found remarkable early success with those EVs. It has already made more than the 50,000 it planned to build in 2021, the first full year of Mustang Mach-E production, and is nearing 200,000 deposits for the F-150 Lightning.

Farley also told Automotive News this week that Ford plans to double the number of EVs it will build globally by the end of 2023 to 600,000. In September, Ford announced plans to build two new battery factories in Kentucky and a “mega campus” in Tennessee that will build batteries and electric vehicles.

Rivian, meanwhile, certainly has its hands full. It just started shipping its R1T electric pickup trucks, is aiming to ship its R1S electric SUVs by the end of the year, and is also working on electric delivery vans for Amazon — which is also heavily invested in the startup. The startup recently went public in one of the biggest IPOs ever, raising some $12 billion in the process. As a result, Ford’s 12 percent stake in Rivian is now worth more than $10 billion.

Ford helped Rivian get to that point, as was recently revealed in the startup’s stock exchange filings. Ford built the body-in-whites for Rivian’s prototypes — the skeletal frame that rides on the chassis — and agreed to supply “certain vehicle components... including related engineering work and tooling” for the entire lineup of R1 vehicles.