Rivian investment: Amazon and others inject $700 million into electric-car start-up

Electric pickup and SUV maker gets major investment, with online retailer Amazon among backers

Rivian, the start-up company that took last year’s Los Angeles Motor Show by storm with two highly praised electric cars, has attracted substantial backing from online retailer Amazon, according to reports.

Amazon is said to have led a $700 million (around £546 million) equity investment in Rivian, bringing the firm’s total support to well over $1 billion.

However, Rivian says the partnership is more of a strategic relationship than a financial one, raising the possibility that Amazon could act as a dealership for its vehicles in the future.

“This investment is an important milestone for Rivian and the shift to sustainable mobility,” said RJ Scaringe, founder and CEO of Rivian. “Beyond simply eliminating compromises that exist around performance, capability and efficiency, we are working to drive innovation across the entire customer experience.

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

American car giant General Motors (GM) is also rumoured to be holding talks about investment of its own, although nothing has been confirmed officially at this stage.

Back in November, the Rivian R1S electric SUV was launched to much acclaim at the LA show, with impressive figures including a 420-mile range and 750bhp power output. Production is set to begin in 2020, with right-hand-drive models commencing in 2021.

Rivian launched the R1T electric pickup truck in the same week, with equally exciting credentials: three battery options (105, 135 and 180kWh) are planned, with the latter delivering similar range to the R1S SUV.

A third model – an electric 'rally car' – is also in the pipeline, although this is still in the early stages of development.

Rivian employs around 600 people at its base in California, and is refurbishing an old Mitsubishi factory in Illinois for the beginning of its production phase.

As well as building its own cars, the company is open to licensing its technology to other brands.