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Ford Cancels All EV Collaboration Plans With Rivian

Ford and Rivian first made waves when they announced a collaboration several years ago. But does the recent cancellation of collaboration between the two in products signal that the end of the partnership is near?
Posted: November 22, 2021 - 10:22AM
Author: Carl Malek

When Ford and Rivian first revealed their intent to collaborate and produce EV models together back in 2019, it certainly generated a substantial amount of buzz. Ford's engineering expertise combined with Rivian's innovative skateboard-style platform certainly painted several compelling what-if scenarios. Fast forward to 2021, and it appears that the honeymoon is over, with Ford and Rivian canceling all plans to collaborate on EV vehicles.

Partnership Had Strong Initial Promise

The roots of the partnership were first planted in 2019 when then Ford CEO Jim Hackett revealed that the company invested $500 million into startup firm Rivian as part of a broader plan to create an EV that would use Rivian's revolutionary skateboard platform to create a rugged yet futuristic EV offering. This transformed into a Lincoln badged model before it was torpedoed out of the water in April 2020 by the iron fist of COVID-19.

But the recent departure of Alexandra Ford-English from Rivian's board of directors was a sign that Ford's plans for its partnership with Rivian were changing. Ford tried to deflect some of these initial shockwaves with Ford CEO Jim Farley confirming a second $415 million investment into the firm with the original collaboration plan still in place. But with Ford making giant leaps in EV technology recently, Rivian's technology became less valuable in the long haul.

What Does This Mean For Ford's Partnership?

E-Transit charging cord

Today's announcement is not the concrete end of the partnership as a whole; instead, it's Ford's way of saying that they will be developing their own electric vehicles moving forward. Part of this shift is due to how well Ford's EV efforts have gone with the Ford Mustang Mach-E delivering the goods when it comes to sales and demand, while the F-150 Lightning pickup remains a hot commodity with a strong pool of pre-orders already in the order books.

This has also trickled down into other EV projects with Ford, not only revealing that the Ford E-Transit cargo van is sold out with over 24,000 reservations but that its long-awaited Eluminator crate EV motor sold out in record time. In addition, Ford has also made significant leaps in producing the critical components needed to power its EV future.

In addition to revealing a massive two-state investment that would see Ford create battery plants in Kentucky and an enormous EV campus in Tennessee the automaker has also increased how much involvement and control it has in software development and even the battery recycling process. Rivian, for its part, is also facing demand-related challenges of its own, especially after it recently launched an IPO that launched it into Wall Street. As a result, it had to potentially shift the priorities of some of its projects, including any possible collaboration with Ford.

But the tech upstart did release a brief quote revealing, "Our relationship with Ford is an important part of our
journey... Ford remains an investor and ally on our shared path to an electrified future."

Rivian R1T

If you were to take this quote at face value, it appears that while Ford will not be involved in formal product collaboration, the Dearborn-based auto giant will take on a more behind-the-scenes role and perhaps help create new ways that the two firms can work together.

Photo Credit: Ford Motor Company/Rivian

Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. In addition to his specialization with Ford, he grew up in a General Motors household and is extensively familiar with their products too. Contact Carl on Twitter at @CarlMalek3, on Instagram and Facebook for automotive news to send news tips.