SAN FRANCISCO: Amazon.com said yesterday it would lead a $700 million investment in US electric pickup truck startup Rivian Automotive, in the e-commerce giant’s biggest bet on technologies with potential to reshape the automotive sector.
The deal represents a major endorsement of Rivian’s electric vehicle technology by the world’s largest online retailer, which is looking for ways to boost the speed and reduce the cost of its deliveries.
Reuters reported on Tuesday that Amazon and General Motors (GM) were in talks to invest in Rivian. “Rivian could ultimately be valued at between $3 billion and $4bn.”
The Rivian deal comes as its much larger electric car manufacturing rival, Tesla, struggles to stabilise production and deliver consistent profits as it ramps up its mass market Model 3 sedan.
Tesla chief executive Elon Musk told investors in August that an electric pickup is “probably my personal favourite for the next product” from the company. But he has spoken only in general about a potential launch, saying that it would happen “right after” Tesla’s Model Y, which the company has targeted to start production in 2020.
Rivian unveiled its electric R1T pickup and R1S SUV for the first time at the Los Angeles Auto Show last November. But the company had piqued Amazon’s interest earlier.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos personally reached out to Rivian founder and CEO R J Scaringe last summer to express interest in an investment. Since then Amazon has stepped up its investment in the car sector, taking part in a $530m funding round announced last week in self-driving car start-up Aurora Innovation.