It has only been a few days since Rivian became a publicly-traded company and at the time of writing, its market valuation had exceeded $130 billion, making it the world’s fifth most-valuable automaker behind Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen, and BYD.
Prior to going public, Rivian raised billions of dollars through private investors, including Ford. However, while Ford currently owns roughly 12 per cent of Rivian, arch-rival General Motors was close to inking a deal with Rivian before the Blue Oval made its investment.
A report by the Wall Street Journal reveals that Ford’s former president of global operations, Joe Hinrichs, met with Rivian founder and chief executive R.J. Scaringe in 2018. Ford was eager to invest in Rivian and wanted to use its skateboard platform for a future EV of its own. A few months later, Scaringe met with General Motors chief executive Mary Barra and president Mark Reuss. GM was also keen to invest in the startup.
The Wall Street Journal writes that Ford executive chairman Bill Ford Jr. met with Scaringe soon after the GM meeting. Scaringe admitted that Rivian was in late-stage talks with GM during a subsequent meeting with Hinrichs but Ford wasn’t willing to let its rival get first dibs on the budding automaker, prompting Hinrichs to state “just because you got engaged to someone doesn’t mean you need to marry them.”
Rivian executives ultimately decided that the terms proposed by Ford were more flexible and in April 2019, Ford announced that it was investing $500 million in Rivian. It has gradually increased its investments and now holds a stake of around 12 per cent. The initial $500 million was a huge deal, particularly since Ford was under pressure from Wall Street after missing its earnings targets at the time.
However, it has proven to be a very smart investment and at current market rates, Ford’s stake in Rivian is worth around $16 billion.