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Rivian CEO says electric-truck startup to make Ford platform

San Francisco

RIVIAN Automotive, the electric-truck startup backed by Amazon.com and Ford Motor, will provide the "skateboard" platform for a premium, high-performance electric Ford vehicle, its top executive said.

"In Ford's case, we provide the platform," Rivian chief executive officer RJ Scaringe said in an interview on Saturday. "They will provide the top hat, the body and the interior."

The "skateboard" is the entire platform, including the motor, battery pack, computer systems and wheels. The design is modular and allows for different vehicle body types to be added on top.

Rivian is seeking partnerships to scale and grow beyond its own consumer electric vehicle offering.

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Ford invested in Rivian in April and announced its intention to build a vehicle using Rivian's technology. Mr Scaringe declined to comment on the vehicle class or design, and didn't confirm which party would assemble the final Ford vehicle or give a date for its release.

"We have confirmed we are working with Rivian on a vehicle which we have not yet announced," Ford spokeswoman Emma Bergg said on Saturday. "We do not comment on future products."

Rivian's own R1T electric pick-up and R1S electric SUV are scheduled to go into production this year at its plant in Normal, Illinois, southwest of Chicago. The company hasn't disclosed pre-order numbers but has said it's "very happy" with demand for its own cars.

Rivian is also building a fleet of electric delivery vehicles for Amazon which are expected to launch in September 2021. It's part of a strategy of diversifying the company's revenues and to "build volume and profitability", even if consumer appetite wanes or there's an economic downturn, Mr Scaringe said.

Rivian's own vehicles, sold directly to consumers, are still expected to account for the majority of its revenue. The projects with Ford and Amazon aren't affecting production of those vehicles.

In December, Rivian raised US$1.3 billion from investors led by T Rowe Price, taking its total raised last year to US$2.85 billion. There are no plans to raise additional funds for now and the company is "well financed", Mr Scaringe said, adding that capital requirements are sizable to continue the company's growth and accelerate toward production.

Rivian on Saturday gave pre-order customers in its most important market an early taste of what they can expect. It held an outdoors-inspired event in the Bay Area city of Mill Valley, north of San Francisco. BLOOMBERG

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