Rivian CEO Says His Company Will Build Premium Electric Luxury SUVs for Ford, Lincoln

Details of Rivian's partnership with Ford are getting clearer

Rivian R1S
Rivian’s own electric SUV, the R1S, will roll off the company’s Normal, Illinois assembly line later this year. [Photo: Rivian]

Ford heavily invested in electric startup Rivian last year, and now we have some more information on their joint venture. More specifically, CEO RJ Scaringe confirmed his company would not just build their own EVs, but build models for Ford as well. Late last year, the company also inked a deal to build electric vans for Amazon.

Speaking to Motor Trend, Scaringe mentioned that the forthcoming SUV is, “an impressive product, to say the least.” Beyond that, though, he didn’t go into further details at this time. The SUV Rivian will build for Ford sits on the same skateboard chassis bundle it will also use on its own models and the Amazon “Prime” electric vans. However, the luxury SUV will supposedly diverge from Rivian’s own R1S in most other respects.

The two should be similarly sized models, but Ford is reportedly going after a different market. The Blue Oval is targeting luxury buyers, meaning their EV will likely be a Lincoln model. Scaringe didn’t outright confirm that, but it’s the most logical conclusion to draw from his statements. Rivian will build all its EVs on assembly lines at its Normal, Illinois plant. The company bought the plant from Mitsubishi in 2016 for $16 million, and has since built it out to 3 million square feet.

2018 Lincoln Navigator Black Label
Rivian plans to produce luxury electric SUVs for Ford, which means we could see a Rivian-built Lincoln model before long. [Photo: Lincoln]

Ford’s lending its expertise to Rivian

Motor Trend reports that Scaringe has been giving quite a bit of thought to production at the plant. The company is now tasked with building three different vehicles in the same facility. They all serve different purposes, and their companies aim them at separate markets.

Some of the equipment in the original Mitsubishi plant is still usable, but Rivian needs to make some major changes to make everything work. For instance, handling Amazon’s needs to build steel and aluminum-based vans, and also dealing with more aluminum-intensive builds for itself and for Ford, which has leaned hard toward the lighter material. Remember, Ford spent billions on its plants to convert F-150 construction to aluminum. Since it has experience with the process, their expertise has come in useful in preparing Rivian to start production.

Rivian is currently under contract to produce 100,000 vehicles for Amazon. Moving beyond that, the Normal plant has the capacity to build just north of 250,000 vehicles per year. The rest of the plant’s capacity will go toward Rivian and Ford models. Once the brand fulfills its Amazon contract by 2024, Rivian will expand its lineup to further vehicles.

Particularly as Rivian ramps up to take on Tesla in the EV space, their partnership with Ford and Amazon will be critical to the brand’s immediate future. Check out our video below to see more on their own upcoming R1S SUV: