Amazon Gives US$700 Million to EV Company Led by 36-Year-Old CEO
It was inevitable. Amazon, which has invested moolah into driverless tech, is also betting on electric cars. In exchange for US$700 million, it will gain a minority stake in Rivian Automotive, an electric car company focusing on making pickups and SUVs.
Interesting ‘beginnings’ story: back in 2011, founder and now CEO, RJ Scaringe, approached investors with the proposal to built an electric sports car, not unlike the Tesla Roadster. But he had nothing to show except an idea. Through contacts that he had from studying at the prestigious MIT, he convinced a Saudi auto distributor to give him US$5 million in funding to accelerate the startup’s progress. In an interview with Bloomberg, Scaringe said that, “They recognised the passion I had. A big part of it was building trust in me.”
Of course, seed capital had come from an engineering company owned by his dad. Today, Rivian has backers such as the likes of Sumitomo Corp and Standard Chartered Plc. There is also rumour of General Motors also coming on board as a partner.
So, why is there interest from these major tech and automotive players in this Michigan-based company? Apparently, Rivian’s EV platform, which is called a “skateboard”, can be used as a battery for other non-automotive applications. The company has already developed a pickup and SUV on the same platform and debuted the models—called R1T and R1S respectively—last November. Production models are slated to be available for American consumers by next year.
The Bloomberg article also pointed out that unlike Tesla, which invented much of its own technology, thus requiring allocating a chunk of investment into development, Rivian adopts “manufacturing, engineering and design” from conventional carmakers. And this will be helpful in getting Rivian’s vehicles manufactured and to market on time.
Another interesting fact: RJ Scaringe is only 36 and has a doctorate in mechanical engineering from MIT. What have you achieved in your life?