Rivian and Mercedes-Benz partner up for electric vans

Mercedes-Benz and Rivian have formed a new joint venture to build “bespoke large” commercial electric vans, the companies announced.

The companies signed a memorandum of understanding to start a strategic partnership that will invest in a new plant, with its target set on using an existing Mercedes-Benz site in Central or Eastern Europe. This marks Rivian’s first foothold in the continent; the automaker only has one manufacturing facility in the US.

There will be two van models, one built on Mercedes’ Vans Electric Architecture (VAN.EA) platform and the other on Rivian’s second-generation electric van platform, called Rivian Light Van (RLV). Mercedes-Benz has been building commercial vans for more than two decades and has manufacturing experience and resources that, combined with Rivian’s electric platform expertise, could help the young automaker thrive on its limited resources. “We want to retain our position as the only van manufacturer producing large vans in Germany — despite the increasing costs associated with the e-mobility transformation.” said Mercedes-Benz head of vans Mathais Geisen.

In the press release announcing their deal, Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe said, “We believe that together we will produce truly remarkable electric vans which will not only benefit our customers, but the planet.” Rivian’s stock jumped nearly 10 percent at market open from $34.90 to $36.26 on news of this new joint venture.

Rivian currently has a contract to build a total of 100,000 electric delivery vans for Amazon. In 2019, that total was to be fulfilled by 2024, but now Amazon projects that the full order will be on the road by 2030. The first ones have only just started to arrive in certain cities for testing, including Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, and Seattle — and a total of 100 cities by year-end. But Rivian’s partnership with Amazon isn’t exclusive, and the automaker has said it plans to begin selling electric vans to other companies in 2023.