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Rivian and Mercedes-Benz electric van partnership is on hold indefinitely

Rivian and Mercedes-Benz electric van partnership is on hold indefinitely


The automakers had signed a memorandum of understanding in September and started a joint venture to build new electric commercial vans. Now Rivian is backing out of the venture while Mercedes-Benz continues development.

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Chrome Mercedes-Benz logo next to a white Rivian logo in front of a black backdrop
Image: Mercedes-Benz / Rivian

Rivian and Mercedes-Benz halted plans to co-develop multiple new electric delivery vans based on both companies’ commercial EV platforms. Rivian put the agreement on pause reportedly because it was concerned about spending a lot of money on an expensive new vehicle development project amid a slowing economy.

“At this point in time, we believe focusing on our consumer business, as well as our existing commercial business, represent the most attractive near-term opportunities to maximize value,” Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe stated in a press release. Both Mercedes-Benz and Rivian had signed a memorandum of understanding in September for a joint venture to build large commercial electric vans.

The companies were going to build the vehicles together at a manufacturing site in Poland, but the German automaker isn’t going to pause its own plans. “The ramp-up plan for our new EV manufacturing site in Jawor, Poland is not affected,” Mercedes-Benz head of vans Mathias Geisen said in a statement. “We will continue with full speed and determination to scale up electric vehicle production in our first dedicated electric van plant.”

It would have been Rivian’s first entry into the European market and one of the first deals to sell vans to a company other than Amazon. The EV company would have had the opportunity to learn from Mercedes-Benz’s two-decade-plus experience in building commercial vans in exchange for its electric platform expertise.

This comes on the heels of Rivian reporting a $1.71 billion loss in the second quarter of 2022. The company said it would burn through $700 million in cash toward its goal of producing 25,000 vehicles by the end of the year, of which it is still 7,000 EVs short. Rivian also laid off 800 employees in an attempt to cut costs and stanch the bleeding of more money. The automaker says it currently has 98,000 customer reservations for its R1T electric trucks and R1S SUVs.

At the time of the partnership announcement, Mercedes-Benz had an interest in retaining its position as “the only” automaker making large vans in Germany, according to Geisen. The original news jumped Rivian’s stock 10 percent, but that has now dropped with the deal on pause. Rivian is still on the hook to deliver 100,000 delivery EVs for Amazon, which had its projected fulfillment by date pushed from 2024 to 2030.