Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of online retail giant Amazon, has told employees in a company-wide meeting that he is fascinated by the electrification of the car industry.
Citing this interest as a key reason behind Amazon’s recent $US700 million ($A1 billion) investment in EV startup Rivian, the CEO told staff that in addition to electrification, he also sees an exciting future in the ride-sharing and connectivity aspects of the transforming industry.
“If you think about the auto industry right now, there’s so many things going on with Uber-ization, electrification, the connected car — so it’s a fascinating industry,” Bezos said according to a recording of the meeting reported by CNBC.
“It’s going to be something very interesting to watch and participate in, and I’m very excited about that whole industry.”
It’s this interest that has led Bezos, whose entrepreneurial nous sparked a revolution in online shopping, to look to invest in the disruptive automotive industry.
In addition to its investment in Rivian, which hit the media spotlight late last year at the LA Auto Show with its rugged all-electric R1T pickup and R1S SUV concepts, Amazon has also injected considerable funds into another automotive startup, the self-driving car developer Aurora.
Leading a $A530 million ($A770 million) funding round in the autonomous tech startup that was announced in February, it seems that Bezos is making moves to claim a piece of the rapidly changing automotive industry.
According to CNBC, the retail giant’s investment in private companies jumped to $US1.4 billion ($A2 billion) last quarter, with the investments in Aurora and Rivian taking that amount over the $1 billion ($A 1.45 billion) mark for the first time since it began reporting private investments in 2015.
It’s Amazon’s investment in Rivian, however – which also recently inked a $500 million ($A713 million) deal with US auto giant Ford – that is likely to have the greatest impact on the Australian auto market in the foreseeable future.
With a distinct bent towards outdoor adventure and travel, the Michigan-based startup’s CEO and founder RJ Scaringe and chief engineer Brian Gase have both noted that Australia, which has a great love of the outdoors, is a key market for the electric car company.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.