[NEW YORK] Rivian, an electric-vehicle startup that has drawn an impressive roster of backers, announced Monday that it had received a US$1.3 billion investment led by T Rowe Price, the mutual fund company.
It was the fourth investment in Rivian this year and the company's largest funding round so far. Amazon and Ford Motor, which were already Rivian investors, also took part in the latest round.
The funding is a vote of confidence in Rivian, which expects to start delivering a truck and a sport utility vehicle (SUV) next year. But it also underscores the company's need for capital. Investments in the company in 2019 have raised US$2.85 billion.
"This investment demonstrates confidence in our team, products, technology and strategy — we are extremely excited to have the support from such strong shareholders," RJ Scaringe, Rivian's founder and chief executive, said in a news release.
The investment also raises the stakes as Rivian prepares to take on Tesla, which produces SUVs as well as sedans and last month announced plans for what it is calling the Cybertruck.
Analysts have said Rivian's truck is aimed more at recreational activities than work use. Its truck is shorter than the bestselling Ford F-150. Ford, which invested US$500 million in Rivian earlier this year, has said it will release a hybrid F-150 next year and is working on an all-electric version.
Amazon, which led a US$700 million investment round in Rivian in February, is collaborating with the company to develop an electric delivery van. Rivian said Monday that Amazon had ordered 100,000 of the vans and that it expected to start delivering them in 2021. The vans would presumably become part of an end-to-end logistics network that Amazon has been working on since 2015.
A Rivian representative declined to specify the company's valuation based on the latest investment. The investment is T. Rowe's first in the company. No new board seats were added as a result of the investment, Rivian said.
As a private company, Rivian does not release financial data that would reflect its progress. As Tesla has shown, building new facilities can take far longer than expected and consume huge amounts of cash. But if Rivian manages mass production of popular vehicles without significant problems, it could establish itself as a competitor to Tesla.
Mr Scaringe, who founded the business that would later become Rivian in 2009, has spent a decade fine-tuning the company's designs.
Elon Musk, Tesla's chief executive, said last month on Twitter that the company had received 146,000 orders for the Cybertruck, and three days later seemed to suggest the number had risen to 250,000. Tesla did not respond to a request for the latest number.
Rivian does not divulge a number for reservations. It requires a US$1,000 deposit for its R1T pickup, a lot more than the US$100 deposit for Tesla's Cybertruck.
The company says its cheapest R1T can be driven for 230 miles on a charge. Rivian's website says the starting price of the R1T is US$69,000, but on Monday a Rivian representative said a basic model could cost less.
"Our current listed US$69,000 start price is representative of a well-optioned vehicle," Amy Mast, the representative, said in an email.
Tesla says it expects to start producing the Cybertruck in late 2021. The most expensive model will cost US$69,000, it says, and the range on a single charge will exceed 500 miles.