Electric SUV and ute start-up Rivian has announced a $US350 million ($A510 million) deal with automotive re-marketing company Cox Automotive, bringing the company’s total fundraising to over $US1.55 billion ($A2.26 billion).
It’s the third major investment in the Michigan-based EV startup since it burst onto the global auto stage at last November’s Los Angeles Auto Show, where its all-electric R1S SUV and R1T pickup (or ute) stole the media limelight.
The latest funding follows a $US700 million ($A1.02 billion) injection of funds from online retail giant Amazon and $US500 million ($A729 million) from US car mainstay Ford.
The details of the new deal, however, are a little sketchy, with a media release from Cox Automotive simply saying that: “In addition to the investment, the companies will explore partnership opportunities in digital retailing, service operations and logistics”.
To dig deeper, one has to read between the lines of RJ Scaringe, the founder and CEO of Rivian whose reputation as an electric vehicle mastermind has the potential to rival that of Elon Musk.
“We are building a Rivian ownership experience that matches the care and consideration that go into our vehicles,” he said in a statement.
“As part of this, we are excited to work with Cox Automotive in delivering a consistent customer experience across our various touchpoints. Cox Automotive’s global footprint, service and logistics capabilities, and retail technology platform make them a great partner for us.”
With Cox Automotive’s position in the auto world entailing products such as Kelley Blue Book, Cars Guide, Autotrader, and auction site Manheim, there is a wealth of experience to be drawn upon.
The real clue may be in comments in the company’s press release made by Joe George, president of Cox Automotive Mobility Group.
“With the electrification of vehicles set to play a significant role in the new mobility future, this partnership opens another channel of discovery and learning for Cox Automotive,” said George.
“Advancements in battery technology and the electrification of fleets are two of our primary focus areas, and we believe this relationship will prove to be mutually beneficial.”
Rivian’s plans for the R1S and R1T include offering both vehicles with a range of super-sized battery capacities, with the top models offered with 180kWh batteries that Rivian says will deliver over 640km of driving range.
Among other unique features, Rivian also wants to allow its electric utes and SUVs to share energy between their batteries, much the same way certain smartphones can (Samsung we’re looking at you).
In a recent study published by Cox Automotive, the company identified that 8 out of 10 EV shoppers are interested in future battery charging services including mobile and robotic.
That’s a lot of dots to join, but for Cox Automotive, it puts the diverse company right into the zeitgeist of electric vehicle design and manufacture, as well as cementing their position on environmental commitments.
“We are excited by Rivian’s unique approach to building an electrified future and to be part of the positive impact its products will bring to our roads and the world around us,” said Sandy Schwartz, president of Cox Automotive in a statement.
“This investment complements Cox Automotive’s own commitment to environmental change through our Cox Conserves efforts.”
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.