COVID-19 Puts The Kibosh On Lincoln/Rivian Mashup

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It wasn’t that long ago that Lincoln announced it was working with Rivian to create a new all electric Lincoln SUV, something like a BEV Navigator. But the coronavirus has sunk those plans, as new market realities have forced the two companies to rethink their future strategies. On April 28, Lincoln dealers were told the Ford and Rivian have canceled plans to develop a new luxury electric vehicle because of the COVID-19 outbreak, according to the Detroit News.

Rivian R1S electric truck
Image credit: Rivian

“Lincoln essentially has decided that it was going to take its own approach to electrification, but it remains fully committed to electrification for Lincoln customers,” Ford CFO Tim Stone said during a conference call on Tuesday. “And we’re similarly committed to Rivian as a partner and we will continue to look for opportunities to partner with Rivian on non-Lincoln product.” Rivian spokesperson Amy Mast says, “We are focusing on our core consumer and commercial products. We plan to continue to work together in the future. Ford is a wonderful partner.”

Navigant auto analyst Sam Abuelsamid told the Detroit News, “There’s less demand for vehicle sales overall, so it’s harder to make the case for premium EVs, especially in an environment where fuel is cheap.” He predicts other electric vehicle programs will see delays and cancellations as well.

What’s Next?

Ford has invested $500 million in Rivian, so it’s not like all collaboration between the two companies will come to an end. According to The Verge, Lincoln says it is still working closely with Rivian, and the two have plans for an “alternative vehicle” based on Rivian’s electric vehicle skateboard platform.

“Given the current environment, Lincoln and Rivian have decided not to pursue the development of a fully electric vehicle based on Rivian’s skateboard platform. Our strategic commitment to Lincoln, Rivian and electrification remains unchanged and Lincoln’s future plans will include an all-electric vehicle,” a Lincoln spokesperson told The Verge.

“This was a decision that was mutually made by Lincoln and Rivian given the rapidly changing environment and after a review of product plans. As we moved through the development cycle, we determined that it would be better to pivot from the Rivian’s skateboard platform and focus our development efforts on Lincoln’s own fully-electric vehicle.” What does that mean? Patience, grasshopper. Time will tell.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."

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