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Ford, Rivian drop plans for electric vehicle

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Rivian

The Rivian Automotive site in Normal. The company was founded in 2009. 

DETROIT — Ford and Rivian have canceled plans to develop an electric vehicle

Rivian, with its massive Normal production plant, made a splash last week on Wall Street with the biggest initial public offering of the year, surpassing the market capitalizations of traditional competitors like Ford. But the Dearborn, Michigan, automaker says it has what it needs to develop and compete with its own vehicles to become a global EV leader. It won't need to use Rivian's electric skateboard after all.

"Over a period of time, obviously, Rivian has done some extensive and impressive developments of its technology, and Ford has done likewise," Ford spokesman TR Reid said. "They have a pretty ambitious vehicle out there, and we have two high-volume vehicles and others to follow. As things have evolved, we decided what is best for us and to proceed from there."

Ford offers the all-electric, Mexico-built Mustang Mach-E SUV and the E-Transit commercial van at its Kansas City Assembly Plant in Missouri. It will assemble the electric F-150 Lightning pickup truck in Dearborn. Irvine, California-based Rivian in September began delivering its R1T pickup truck from its plant in Normal, where it also will assemble SUVs and delivery vans.

RJ Scaringe founded Rivian in 2009, a year before Tesla went public. Here's a comparison of the two EV companies by the numbers.

It's the second time the Dearborn automaker and the EV startup have shredded developments plans. Citing the COVID-19 pandemic, the companies in April 2020 said they were no longer collaborating on an EV for Ford's Lincoln luxury brand.

"As Ford has scaled its own EV strategy and demand for Rivian vehicles has grown, we've mutually decided to focus on our own projects and deliveries," Rivian spokeswoman Miranda Jimenez said in a statement.

Still, the "relationship with Ford is an important part of our journey, and Ford remains an investor and ally on our shared path to an electrified future."

Ford had a 12% stake in Rivian when it went public on Nov. 12, increasing the value of its stake to more than $10 billion at the time — a hefty return on the Blue Oval's investment of more than $820 million into the startup. Rivian shares closed Friday up 65% since then.

"We have been impressed by the work by (Rivian CEO) RJ Scaringe, and the work they are doing since we first made our investment," Reid said. "There will be multiple winners with customers."

Automotive News first reported the end of the collaboration. Despite the scrapped plans, Ford still intends to double its EV capacity to 600,000 vehicles globally within two years and become the No. 2 EV maker behind Tesla Inc., Reid confirmed.

"That is within the next couple of years, but that would be a point in time," he said. "The goal is to be the bona fide leader in the space. No. 2 is not the ambition."

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