Ford abandons Rivian EV partnership as electric cars move to forefront

Credit: Rivian

FORD is following in the footsteps of car-makers around the world as it throws its future electric cars development into the balance, WWD reports.

The firm in April agreed to make deals with Colorado-based Rivian Automotive and Germany’s Continental AG to create electrified vehicles within its Global Electric Vehicle Product Plan (GEVP), which Ford describes as a three-year, $7 billion plan aimed at introducing more than 30 electric, autonomous and hybrid models by the end of the 2020s.

However, Ford announced Tuesday that it’s pulling out of both the partnerships and the GEVP.

“We’re not confident in the ability of our teams to come up with fully-electric vehicles with our two partners,” Doug VanDagens, Ford’s vice president of corporate strategy and development, told WWD, indicating the dearth of battery-powered alternatives to gasoline-powered vehicles.

Rivian, which produces the more affordable R1T (Sportage Electric) crossover, as well as the R1S and R1T sports cars, had been in talks with Ford for most of the year about how to work together on e-mobility and electric car models. But the latest cutbacks highlight the diversity of financial challenges automotive companies are facing.

“When we struck our deal with Ford, the outlook was very different,” said Dan Fields, Rivian’s president and CEO. “It certainly is in the context of the challenges we face today, which makes it more difficult for both companies to be able to solve some of these problems, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not an opportunity. We’re all looking for an answer to emissions-management problems and electrification-management problems. I believe we have an opportunity there as well.”

He added that he “wasn’t surprised” by Ford’s decision and that Rivian will have another company “to partner with once our deals with Ford have been complete.”

Continental hasn’t been as openly public about its commitment to the electric sector. It first announced in 2015 that it was exploring entering the electric vehicle space but later abandoned those plans. It recently created the Power Systems Technologies business unit to sell powertrain components.

To date, Ford has only said that it plans to introduce 25 electrified vehicles between 2018 and 2025, including some fully-electric vehicles.

VanDagens told WWD that Ford is “making some decisions around some other partnerships, including a few in North America.” When asked specifically about those deals, he said that he couldn’t comment.

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