Electric vehicle wunderkind Rivian is getting a $350 million equity infusion from Cox Automotive, the Atlanta-based conglomerate behind brands including Kelley Blue Book, Autotrader and auction service Manheim. The Wall Street Journal says the investment, which adds to previous deals from Amazon and Ford, values Rivian at around $3.5 billion, roughly a year ahead of the projected release of its first vehicle.
Cox in a release said the two companies will explore opportunities to partner in service operations, logistics and digital retailing. The deal will see Rivian remain an independent company, though Cox will add a representative to Rivian’s board of directors. Although Cox is a big name in automotive retailing, Rivian has said it wants to sell its vehicles direct to consumers, a la Tesla, without a traditional network of dealerships.
“We are building a Rivian ownership experience that matches the care and consideration that go into our vehicles,” Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe said in a statement. “As part of this, we are excited to work with Cox Automotive in delivering a consistent consumer experience across our various touchpoints. Cox Automotive’s global footprint, service and logistics capabilities, and retail technology platform make them a great partner for us.”
For its part, Cox said the investment will help strengthen its focus on advancements in battery technology and electrifying vehicle fleets, and it complements its corporate commitment to environmental sustainability.
Once completed, the deal means that Rivian has attracted more than $1.5 billion in investment from other companies in 2019 alone. The startup in April secured a $500 million investment from Ford, which will get access to its skateboard EV platform and could use it to develop an electric SUV. Ford is already developing a battery-electric version of its venerable F-150 pickup, which is believed to be separate from Rivian. And in February, Amazon led a $700 million round of financing in the company and is reportedly developing a prototype delivery vehicle using Rivian’s technology, according to the WSJ.
Rivian has been around for a decade but only began attracting major attention last November, when it unveiled its R1T electric pickup truck and R1S SUV at the L.A. Auto Show. It plans to build the models, which boast ranges of up to 400 miles, at a former Mitsubishi plant it purchased in Illinois, and it plans six new products by 2025. Scaringe has also promised Rivian-to-Rivian charging capabilities and auxiliary battery packs to extend range.