Ford is canning plans for an all-electric Lincoln using Michigan-based EV startup Rivian’s skateboard platform, as it reports a $US2 billion ($A3.06 billion) loss in its 2020 first quarter earnings.
Ford, which invested $US500 million in April 2019 into the promising electric vehicle startup (worth $A765 billion today), announced it would partner with Rivian to develop an all-electric luxury vehicle under the Lincoln brand in January.
However those plans have now been scuppered, due to the “current environment” according to a spokesperson who spoke with The Verge on Tuesday.
“Given the current environment, Lincoln and Rivian have decided not to pursue the development of a fully electric vehicle based on Rivian’s skateboard platform,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying.
Rivian has also put plans to release its rough-and-ready, all-electric R1T utility truck (known as a ute in Australia and a pickup in the US) and R1S SUV on hold, saying in March that the two highly anticipated electric vehicles would now be released in 2021.
Update: To keep our teams safe and slow the spread of COVID-19, we have shut down all Rivian facilities. We are committed to everyone on our team. Both our salaried and hourly workforce will continue to be paid during this shutdown. Stay safe everyone.
— Rivian (@Rivian) March 20, 2020
It is expected that more details of when this will eventuate will come as restrictions are lifted in US states where Rivian has operations including Michigan, Illinois and California.
Lincoln is not ruling out developing another electric vehicle in the future, either.
“Our strategic commitment to Lincoln, Rivian and electrification remains unchanged and Lincoln’s future plans will include an all-electric vehicle,” The Verge quoted Lincoln’s spokesperson as saying.
The news comes as Ford posts its biggest loss since the 2009 global recession, causing the car maker to draw more than $US15 billion ($A23 billion) from its credit lines and projecting an even bigger loss for the next quarter.
“I never had a business plan that was called pandemic,” Ford CEO Jim Hackett said on the company’s post-results call.
“We just never imagined the economy turning off,” he said referring to drastic measures including factory shutdowns to curb the spread of the Covid-19 disease.
It’s a stark contrast to Tesla, which today reported a modest but nonetheless positive $US16 billion ($A24.5 billion) profit despite not being able to deliver all of its inventory in the first quarter – the first such profit in what is seasonally an unprofitable quarter for the company.
Musk’s comments on Tesla’s approach to the crisis, alongside cutting criticism of what he considers “fascist” stay-at-home measures, were a stark contrast to Hackett’s.
“It has caused us to look closely at our cost structure and to be more efficient as a company, one always has to do in crisis,” said Musk. “We had to think about our core beliefs and what do we want to do.”
“We came to conclusion that the right move is to continue to expand rapidly, continue to advance in the future, in new technologies even though it is risky.
“There’s clearly an uncertain future ahead, it’s clearly a bumpy road, but I think long term prospects extremely good,” Musk said.
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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.