Amazon, GM in talks to invest in electric pickup truck maker Rivian

Rivian R1S

Amazon declined to comment on the report.

General Motors and Amazon are in talks to take a stake in electric truck startup Rvian, people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday. It would be a major boost for the Plymouth, Michigan-based startup, which aspires to be the first auto maker to the USA market with an electric pickup. The Reuters source says the deal could be announced as early as this month but cautions nothing is final yet. "We admire Rivian's contribution to a future of zero emissions and an all-electric future", GM said in a statement.

The Rivian deal would come as its much larger electric vehicle manufacturing rival, Tesla Inc, struggles to stabilize production and deliver consistent profits as it rolls out its flagship Model 3 sedan.

Rivian plans to begin selling its R1T pickup truck in the fall of 2020. As a unique feature, all of the drive components, batteries, brakes, cooling, and majority of the suspension system fall below the height of the wheels.

Unlike rival automakers, Rivian is not trying to develop its own self-driving technology. CEO Mary Barra admits that a "tiny bit" of thought has gone into electric pickups, but not much beyond that.

Rivian, founded by MIT mechanical engineering doctor R.J. Scaringe in 2009, aspires to be the first US carmaker to offer a mass-produced, off-road electric pickup, a product Tesla CEO Elon Musk also has been eyeing for quite a while.

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Last November, GM announced a controversial restructuring that sees several gas-powered sedan models cut from its lineup and leaves five North American assembly plants with no product to build as the automaker shifts toward an EV future.

With consumer preference shifting to larger vehicles and trucks typically the most profitable models in the lineup for established automakers, analysts say the move to develop electric trucks was nearly a given.

Amazon has also invested in self-driving vehicle startup Aurora Innovation Inc, in a $530 million funding round announced last week.

So why the sudden interest from Amazon in autonomous and electric vehicles? The world's largest online retailer has steadily increased its logistics footprint, building warehouses around the world and inking deals with Mercedes as well as cargo airlines to help with delivery. Sumitomo Corporation of America has also invested an undisclosed amount of money and Standard Chartered has provided $200 million in debt financing.

Rivian already boasts a $500 million stake from Abdul Latif Jameel, whose investments include the US branch of Japan's Sumitomo Bank, and the Toyota distributorship in Saudi Arabia, Kitman reported.

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