Ford axes Rivian project after the US carmaker’s head of e-vehicles departs

Ford and Rivian, a name that will surely soon enter the mainstream auto industry lexicon, are no longer planning to work together to develop electric vehicles. The firms were working with Ford on developing a “5-door, five-seat car with a full range of technology” that was to be sold at retail as well as in fleets, says a note from UK consultancy Piwan in its current edition. The project was to be built at Rivian’s headquarters in Emeryville, California, to be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show.

However, it now appears those plans are have been canned. Piwan also says that the Rivian CEO of the project, Roldan Drage, has left the company, although Piwan was unable to confirm whether this was the result of a new business alignment decision or just a split over product development.

Piwan adds that “Rivian is going full steam ahead with the design of the 5D, although this project will focus on everything but electric vehicles. It will be an ‘action car’ for people aged 16-40 which includes a mid-range subcompact that will be targeted at Millennials.

It is understood that around 50 Rivian employees are expected to move to Ford as part of the divisional transfer deal, although Piwan adds that others will be laid off as a result of the move. A Rivian spokesperson was unable to confirm this number, and was unable to say whether the electric vehicle will still go on sale as a standalone car model for the UK or the US.

“This includes the design of this Ford performance vehicle and automotive chassis with a range of technology and features, including dual rack four-wheel drive, on a full-hybrid and electric powertrain, which will be 100 percent battery-electric,” says Piwan.

The Rivian brand’s range of vehicles also includes a small crossover called RS, which is set to go on sale in the US this summer; a compact SUV called R1T; and a midsize crossover called R1A, which will be launched next year.

This isn’t the first time Ford has teamed up with an existing firm to develop vehicles aimed at younger drivers. UK-based Cambridge Car Research has worked with the company on its Aviator sportscar, intended for launch this year. Meanwhile, the firm’s Kuga crossover was developed in partnership with Haryam from India.

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