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Rivian lands key investor

Wednesday, Sep 11, 2019

* I admit I was very skeptical about this company and even Gov. Rauner tried to distance himself from it, but things seem to really be happening with Rivian. Tribune

Rivian, which is opening a factory in downstate Normal, is getting a $350 million investment from Cox Automotive, the latest equity partner to take a stake in the electric truck startup.

In addition to the investment, announced Tuesday, the companies will explore opportunities to team up in areas such as logistics and digital retailing as Rivian gets closer to launching its electric pickup truck and SUV late next year. […]

The investment is the third major vote of confidence this year in the startup. In April, Rivian announced a $500 million investment from Ford, following a $700 million investment round led by Amazon in February.

Founded in 2009, Rivian’s mission is to become the Tesla of trucks, drawing investors and consumer interest long before the first vehicles roll off the line at a former Mitsubishi plant in Normal currently undergoing renovations.

* CNET

Who or what is Cox Automotive? It’s the parent company of some brands you probably know like Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book, and some that you might not like Manheim. Despite not necessarily being a household name, Cox has surprisingly deep pockets and has decided to draw on them for a $350 million investment in the burgeoning EV (electric vehicle) startup.

What is Cox getting for its money? Kind of a lot, it turns out. Specifically, it’s getting a seat on Rivian’s board, and Rivian stated that it will work with Cox to “explore opportunities for partnerships in digital retailing, service operations and logistics.”

That may sound boring, and you may already have fallen asleep reading it, but for Cox it’s a big deal, since a large chunk of its business involves working with car dealers to get them and their listings in front of the eyes of consumers. If it can get even closer to the source of things, even better.

“We are building a Rivian ownership experience that matches the care and consideration that go into our vehicles,” said RJ Scaringe, founder and CEO of Rivian, in a statement. “As part of this, we are excited to work with Cox Automotive in delivering a consistent customer experience across our various touchpoints. Cox Automotive’s global footprint, service and logistics capabilities, and retail technology platform make them a great partner for us.”

* TechCrunch

Cox Automotive has a number of specialties, such as logistics, fleet management and service and digital retailing, which is the back-end retail support that a company selling and servicing vehicles will need. For instance, Cox Automotive launched in January a fleet services brand called Pivet that handles the task management, including everything from in-fleeting, de-fleeting, cleaning, detailing, fueling and charging, to maintenance, storage, parking and logistics.

While Rivian has never explicitly announced plans to have a subscription service to its vehicles, this type of service would come in handy if the automaker pursued that as a business model.

Cox Automotive has also been building out parts of its business to take advantage of the rise in electrified vehicles, including battery diagnostics and second-life battery applications.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

16 Comments »
  1. - SAP - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 9:55 am:

    ==Rivian’s mission is to become the Tesla of trucks== I think it is safe to say that Rivian has set a higher bar for itself than that.


  2. - Downstate - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 9:59 am:

    Warren Buffet often speaks about the adoption of new technologies, and that while many enter a market, eventually only two or three major players emerge.

    As an example, there were more than 100 auto manufacturers in the 1920’s, but 3 survived. Similarly, there were dozen of airplane manufacturers in the 1930’s, but only 3-4 remained.

    I’m afraid the same will be true of the electric vehicle ramp-up. But Rivian has shown they have both staying power and continued support from a broad range of critical investor/strategic partners.

    Due to the dramatic number of fewer parts in an electric vehicle versus a internal combustion engine, the electric vehicles hold some promise of rapidly reduced pricing, not unlike microwaves, flat screen tvs, etc.


  3. - EVET - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 10:03 am:

    Go Illinois manufacturing! EVs are great. If you buy one and are a ComEd or Ameren customer sign up for hourly pricing; charge at night when prices are low, and enjoy. No more oil changes to pay for either.


  4. - Annonin' - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 10:09 am:

    We always chuckled when GovJunk would blame everyone for the plant being empty when his clown car crew had sold it to Rivian. The whole episode is a stark memory of the 4 lost years IL suffered under GovJunk.
    Very happy to see the new developments.


  5. - TaylorvilleTornado - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 10:13 am:

    It was discovered the other day that Rivian truck are going to be used in Ewan McGregor’s newest motorcycle trip documentary (along with the electric Harley). That’s a pretty big PR get for them.


  6. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 10:17 am:

    What’s good news is that if you own a business you can work with Pivet and Pivet takes care of your fleet for you and supplies you with Rivian Trucks.


  7. - Sayitaintso - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 11:09 am:

    I can picture Rauner in full phony regalia on his photo-op Harley, taking laps around the Rivian parking lot - nah, only in his head.


  8. - RNUG - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 11:09 am:

    == there were more than 100 auto manufacturers in the 1920’s, but 3 survived. ==

    I’m a bit of a car nut. The survival / longevity was actually a bit better than that if you look at the 40-50 year mark. At least 7 independents survived into the 1960’s. Studebaker closed in the 60’s, Jeep was sold off in the late 60’s and ended up as part of Chrysler, American Motors died in the late 80’s, and while Checker Motors ceased car production in the early 80’s, it survived as a parts subcontractor until 2010.

    So, while still daunting, the survival chances for Rivian are probably double what you think they are.


  9. - Not a Billionaire - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 11:39 am:

    Everyone was a sceptic and no one wanted the plant. I got an auction circular. They have enough stuff there to have a fully integrated operation to build the body. Rauner does deserve some credit. Instead of and empty building with old equipment we have a cutting edge manufacturing operation.


  10. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 11:40 am:

    ==I can picture Rauner in full phony regalia on his photo-op Harley, taking laps around the Rivian parking lot==

    Maybe his supporters would be mad if he did this? After all, he told them repeatedly that Illinois would never create another job if he wasn’t re-elected. They cheered really loud each time he said it, too


  11. - Benjamin - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 12:36 pm:

    ===Similarly, there were dozen of airplane manufacturers in the 1930’s, but only 3-4 remained.===

    As with the auto example refuted above, there have been (and still are) well over a dozen mass-producers of aircraft in this country. If you’re talking defense contracting, that would make sense–Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman are the “Big 3″ of aerospace today. But as recently as 1990, those were 9 separate companies (Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, Rockwell, General Dynamics, Lockheed, Martin Marietta, Northrop, and Grumman). That’s not counting smaller companies that mostly serve the civilian sector, like Cessna and Beechcraft.

    Anyway, the moral is: there might be room for just 3 or 4 big competitors on the top, but there’s often room for niche competitors at lower levels. If Rivian’s breakeven point is, say, 20,000 trucks a year, and they’re offering something without much competition, that’s an achievable goal.


  12. - Barton Lorimor - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 1:21 pm:

    I used to drive by the Mitsubishi plant every day on my way to school. When I graduated and moved way, the lots there were empty. I went to visit Ma & Pa recently and the lots were full…of scandal plagued Volkswagens. But I look forward to seeing Rivian fill the lots and bring new life to the plant and adjacent rail yard.


  13. - Babaloo - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 4:03 pm:

    Looking for an edible hat store.


  14. - Cornish - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 9:55 pm:

    Didn’t Rauner help bring this company to the closed plant? Seems like it might have worked out well.


  15. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 10:11 pm:

    ===Didn’t Rauner help bring this company to the closed plant?===

    Cite please.

    Also, explain the link Rich provides above in May 2018

    ===Seems like it might have worked out well.===

    Huh? From the link…

    ===Bernie: They have 40 employees already. They have promised to have 500 within a few years or 1,000 to match — to get the state aid that you promised: the tax break. How can you keep saying, ‘Nobody will buy that plant, nobody will use that plant’ when you were there? They have 40 employees, your own Department of Commerce has a deal with them — it’s just a flat-out falsehood, is it not?

    Rauner: [laughs] No, Bernie, it’s not at all. That plant should have well over 1,000 people today. And that plant should have brought hundreds of millions of dollars today. We had to basically cut a deal on the hope, on a gamble that it might work out. And it’s the best we could do and hopefully that will become successful someday. But that should be generating tax revenue already today and should be hugely successful over the last five years. Our regulations and our taxes have driven our employers out of the state. That’s a fact and we’ve got to change it. And raising our taxes will not solve our problem.===

    By Rauner’s own measure, it still isn’t measuring up.


  16. - Stuntman Bob's Brother - Thursday, Sep 12, 19 @ 12:46 am:

    This is a thread where Word’s input is missed, he was definitely not optimistic on Rivian’s chances of success.

    Personally, I’m pretty sure there is going to be some fairly large disruption in the auto manufacturing sector in the next decade, and Rivian may benefit from it.


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