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EV startup to take on Tesla with US$1.3b investment

Plymouth, Michigan

RIVIAN, an electric-vehicle startup that has drawn an impressive roster of backers, announced on 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 next year. But it also underscores the company's need for capital. Investments in the company in 2019 have raised US$2.85 billion.

The investment also raises the stakes as Rivian prepares to take on Tesla, which announced plans last month for the "Cybertruck".

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Analysts have said Rivian's truck is aimed more at recreational activities than work use.

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 on Monday that Amazon had ordered 100,000 of the vans and expects to start delivering them in 2021.

The investment is T. Rowe's first in the company.

If Rivian manages mass production of popular vehicles without significant problems, it could establish itself as a competitor to Tesla.

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.

Rivian 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 370km on a charge.

Rivian's website says the starting price of the R1T is US$69,000, but a Rivian representative said a basic model could cost less.

Tesla says it expects to start producing the Cybertruck in late 2021. The most expensive model will cost US$69,000, and the range on a single charge will exceed 805km. NYTIMES

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