Elon Musk and Tesla had better watch out because tech conglomerate Amazon just led a massive $700 million funding round in electric vehicle competitor Rivian.
Amazon Leads Major Funding Round in EV Startup Rivian
The Michigan-based Rivian has sought to carve out a segment of the burgeoning electric vehicle market by focusing its efforts on building pickup trucks and SUVs.
Alongside Amazon, the funding round included participation from existing Rivian investors. The company did not disclose its new valuation.
“This investment is an important milestone for Rivian and the shift to sustainable mobility,” said RJ Scaringe, Rivian Founder and CEO. “Beyond simply eliminating compromises that exist around performance, capability and efficiency, we are working to drive innovation across the entire customer experience. Delivering on this vision requires the right partners, and we are excited to have Amazon with us on our journey to create products, technology and experiences that reset expectations of what is possible.”
Should Tesla be Worried?
CCN previously reported that analysts including Morgan Stanley’s Adam Jonas had singled out Rivian as a potential foil to Tesla’s plan to dominate the electric vehicle market.
“We believe companies like Rivian will take elevated importance in investors’ minds as EVs become the focus of OEM investment and strategy,” Jonas said, adding that Morgan Stanley has a “strong belief that all-electric vehicle architecture will need a truly ‘clean sheet’ approach” to vehicle development, as opposed to “adapting existing legacy [original equipment manufacturer] architecture.”
Elon Musk has said that Tesla plans to release an EV pickup truck capable of withstanding the demands of construction sites and other heavy-duty environments, though this vehicle has not yet been formally announced. According to EV blog Electrek, the vehicle’s unveiling could come as soon as summer 2019.
Unlike Tesla, Rivian has not yet begun to deliver vehicles to customers. The company said that its R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV – each of which boasts a range of more than 400 miles on a single charge – will begin shipping to US buyers in late 2020.
If Tesla investors are concerned, however, they aren’t demonstrating it by dumping their shares. Tesla stock is up 0.9 percent this morning, outperforming the Nasdaq 100 by a considerable margin.
Crowded EV Market Now Flush with Cash
Competition within the EV market is clearly ramping up.
Just last week, Softbank – Uber’s largest shareholder – plowed $940 million into Nuro, an autonomous vehicle startup whose self-driving electric vans aim to disrupt the grocery delivery industry.
Legacy carmakers have also begun to allocate more resources into building out their electric lineups. Most notably, GM recently revealed that it would produce an all-electric Cadillac.
Amazon itself recently made a high-profile investment in Aurora, an autonomous vehicle technology startup founded by former Tesla and Waymo employees.
Developing…Check back for updates.
Featured Image from REUTERS / Mike Blake