Rivian races ahead of other EV startups with $1.3 billion in new funding

Michigan-based EV startup Rivian has announced a massive new $1.3 billion financing round led by T. Rowe Price — one that includes existing investors like Amazon and Ford. It’s the fourth time Rivian has raised money this year, following an Amazon-led $700 million raise in February, a $500 million investment from Ford in April, and $350 million from Cox Automotive in September — despite a market that is shying away from big investments in startups for a number of reasons.

The new money puts Rivian at over $3 billion in total funding since it was founded in 2009, meaning it’s now comfortably ahead of all the other US-based electric vehicle startups that have tried to follow in Tesla’s wake. Add in the commercial partnerships Rivian secured with Amazon and Ford as part of their investments, and it is arguably in a better position to succeed than some of the most high-profile foreign EV startups, too.

Rivian has suffered far less drama than EV startups like Faraday Future, Lucid Motors, and Byton for a few reasons. One, it remained remarkably quiet following its founding. Rivian kept its employee count low while it focused on developing its core technologies (like its battery pack and electric powertrain), existing for nearly nine years on just a few hundred million dollars from Saudi Arabian auto distributor Abdul Latif Jameel and Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo. At the same time, Rivian locked down a manufacturing facility — a former Mitsubishi plant in Normal, Illinois — long before announcing its vehicles.

It wasn’t until the company broke cover in 2018 that it finally showed off the design of those two all-electric vehicles: a pickup truck called the R1T and an SUV called the R1S. The startup also started talking about its plans in detail, like how CEO and founder RJ Scaringe wants to create the “Patagonia” of electric automakers.

Now, the EV startup is roughly one year away from kick-starting production of its electric pickup truck and SUV, each of which will start at around $70,000. Rivian has promised the top spec of both vehicles will be able to travel more than 400 miles on a full battery, and the company has outfitted each with tons of features tailor-made for outdoor and off-road use to reach those Patagonia-type customers.

Investors were impressed with the approach and the results, as evidenced by how some have taken active stakes in the growing company. Amazon tapped Rivian to build 100,000 electric delivery vans by 2024. Ford, meanwhile, will use Rivian’s technology to power what is expected to be an all-electric Lincoln SUV due in 2022.

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