Electric pickup truck maker Rivian tipped in investment talks with GM, Amazon

Electric pickup truck maker Rivian tipped in investment talks with GM, Amazon

Reuters says the deal would give both companies a minority interest in the Plymouth, Michigan, company, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

The rapid growth of Amazon's e-commerce business has put pressure on the company to expand capacity and reduce its reliance on its delivery partners that include United Parcel Service Inc., FedEx Corp. and the U.S. Postal Service. It would be a major boost for the Plymouth, Michigan-based startup, which aspires to be the first carmaker to the USA consumer market with an electric pickup. There is always a chance that deal talks fall through, the sources cautioned.

"We admire Rivian's contribution to a future of zero emissions and an all-electric future", GM told GeekWire in an email.

The company was founded in Florida in 2009 by MIT mechanical engineering degree-holder R.J. Scaringe to develop a hybrid electric sports auto, but shifted its focus to electric trucks a few years later. Tesla and Workhorse are also intent on bringing electric pickup trucks to market - although, Elon Musk has indicated there are several things on his "to do" list that have priority, such as the Model Y crossover. It plans to start selling the model in the fall of 2020, priced at north of $60,000.

Rivian is aiming to offer the luxury vehicles at a starting price of $69,000, and is working with outside firms to develop a Level 3 autonomous driving system that will allow for hands-free driving in some situations.

Amazon has also been making efforts to extend its Alexa technology from the home to the vehicle, through partnerships with automakers and device makers, and its own Echo Auto in-car gadget, announced previous year but still available only by invitation. CEO Mary Barra admits that a "tiny bit" of thought has gone into electric pickups, but not much beyond that.

GM last month announced a strategy to make its luxury Cadillac its lead electric vehicle brand, revealing it would be the first vehicle built on the Detroit automaker's "BEV3" platform to challenge Tesla.

General Motors has committed to introducing more than 20 electric vehicles by 2023. Should the deal follows through, they will be Rivian's first major USA venture investors, joining existing shareholders including Saudi Arabia's Abdul Latif Jameel and Japan's Sumitomo Corporation. Sumitomo Corporation of America has also invested an undisclosed amount of money and Standard Chartered has provided $200 million in debt financing.

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