Ford is well underway in the development of its electric F-150, so much so that the automaker recently showed it pulling a train. When the company partnered with Rivian to develop large electric vehicles using the startup’s tech, it seemed likely that the outcome could be another pickup, or that Ford was leveraging Rivian for input on the electric F-150. Not so fast, though, as Company CEO Jim Hackett confirmed the Blue Oval’s $500 million investment in the Michigan-based start-up will spawn a new vehicle, but he warned against speculating it’s a truck. Reading between the lines, it seems like Hackett is telling us that the Rivian investment will yield an SUV or crossover, something that will likely be developed in parallel to the ongoing F-150 EV that we still expect to reach production.
“You shouldn’t go down the path of assuming it’s a pickup,” he told Motor Trend during an interview. While he wouldn’t reveal precisely what the jointly-developed model will arrive as, Rivian so far specializes in making tall, rugged off-roaders like the R1T and the R1S concepts it introduced during the 2018 Los Angeles auto show. This means the skateboard platform it will let Ford use won’t underpin a successor to the Focus Electric. If it’s not a pickup, odds are it will be an SUV.
Ford is keeping quiet about its battery-powered off-roader, but work continues behind the scenes, and Hackett added most of the big decisions have already been made. He also hinted that Rivian will build the model in the former Mitsubishi factory it purchased in Normal, Illinois. That’s a courageous move; Ford has over 100 years of manufacturing experience, but Rivian has absolutely none.
On the other side of the pond, where mammoth vehicles like the R1T and the F-150 don’t fit in, Ford is leveraging its burgeoning partnership with Volkswagen to quickly bring electric cars to the market. The Blue Oval became the first major automaker to take up Volkswagen’s offer to share the modular MEB architecture it’s developing to underpin a wide range of electric cars, including a Golf-sized hatchback called ID.3. Motor Trend learned Ford ultimately hopes to sell 600,000 MEB-based cars over a six-year period, but additional details remain under wraps. What’s certain is that they’ll be relatively small, and they won’t be available in North America.
All told, Ford plans to release 40 electrified vehicles globally by 2022, including hybrids, plug-in hybrids and 16 battery-electric cars. It’s investing $11.5 billion into research and partnerships to make it happen.