Ford is investing $500 million in electric pickup truck maker Rivian, saying the two companies will work together to develop a new battery plug-in vehicle for Ford.
Ford is playing catch-up to a number of other automakers' efforts to develop electric vehicles. It does not currently sell any pure electric vehicles, although it sells some plug-in hybrid cars.
Company executives said Ford will still move ahead with its own electric vehicle development efforts, including a plug-in version of the Ford F-150 pickup. They said the vehicle it will develop with Rivian will be an addition to its future lineup.
"We don't have all the answers and we don't pretend to," said Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford's automotive unit. "We believe the next decade will be a transformative time in terms of electrification."
Ford has announced plans to spend $11 billion transforming the company in coming years, including a move toward electric and self-driving vehicles. It said Wednesday that this $500 million investment is in addition to that $11 billion effort. It also said the joint effort with Rivian is in addition to Ford's plans to work with Volkswagen to develop a number of vehicles, including electric ones.
Rivian has yet to start production of its electric trucks. Its first vehicle, a high-end electric pickup truck with planned range of more than 400 miles on a single charge, will be available in late 2020, the company says. Rivian has nevertheless attracted significant investment from many deep-pocket investors, including a $700 million investement from Amazon announced in February.
And Rivian said it discussed a possible investment with a number of other top automakers before striking the deal with Ford.
RJ Scaringe, Rivian's founder and CEO, would not rule out working with other automakers in the future, although he said he's now focused on his agreements with Ford and Amazon.
The companies also did not disclose how big a stake in Rivian Ford's investment is worth. Rivian will remain an independent company. Hinrichs will become a member of the Rivian board.