There are a lot of small startups promising to be the next big thing in cars or "mobility" and now one of them is demanding the industry’s attention. EV startup Rivian just confirmed a round of investment worth $700 million led by retail giant Amazon.
This massive investment comes shortly after Rivian unveiled its two models, the R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. Both of these vehicles are all-electric and make some pretty big promises about their range and performance. They share the same "skateboard" platform and electric powertrain options, which promise more than 400 miles of maximum range, strong performance on the street and real off-road chops. Rivian will be building the R1T and R1S in Normal, Illinois and it’s promising deliveries to customers as soon as late 2020.
As for the details on this big investment, Rivian isn’t revealing much. What it has confirmed is that Amazon is leading the charge along with existing shareholders and that Rivian will remain an independent company. How much of the $700 million investment is straight from Amazon is unknown.
So, why is Amazon so interested in Rivian? "We’re inspired by Rivian’s vision for the future of electric transportation," said Jeff Wilke, Amazon CEO Worldwide Consumer in a statement. "[Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe] has built an impressive organization, with a product portfolio and technology to match. We’re thrilled to invest in such an innovative company."
It’s easy to think of startups like Rivian as "vaporware" that may or may not ever materialize into a real player in the car business, but this big new investment puts Rivian in a position to be an industry mover.