Pickup trucks are next frontier as electric vehicle race expands

Pickup trucks are next frontier as electric vehicle race expands

Pickup trucks are next frontier as electric vehicle race expands

With consumer preference shifting to larger vehicles and trucks typically the most profitable models in the lineup for established automakers, analysts say the move to develop electric trucks was nearly a given.

According to Reuters, both GM and Amazon are in discussions to take minority stakes in the electric pickup and SUV maker and that a deal could be finalized by the end of the year. Hours later, there was a new report from Reuters that put the kibosh on that rumor and suggests GM and Amazon are prepared to make a major investment in Rivian instead. The deal would value Rivian at between $1 billion and $2 billion. Negotiations are reportedly still taking place, but the sources claim we may hear an official announcement some time this month.

GM, Amazon and Rivian have yet to confirm the talks, even as the idea found support in Wall Street. GM declined to discuss any hint of a deal being reached but stated, "we admire Rivian's contribution to a future of zero emissions and an all-electric future".

Rivian is aiming to offer the luxury vehicles at a starting price of $69,000, and is working with outside firms to develop a Level 3 autonomous driving system that will allow for hands-free driving in some situations. Both are large vehicles that could well appeal to affluent customers. Additional funds could give the company the additional push it needs to get its trucks to production and for it to form a retail and support strategy-which, in Rivian's case, may involve a direct sales model somewhat like that of Tesla, combined with traditional dealership networks that would "own" the service and support.

It seems Workhorse is closest to having an electric truck ready for market. It plans to start selling the model in the fall of 2020, priced at north of $60,000.

Popstar Rihanna, whose boyfriend Hassan Jameel is deputy vice chairman of Rivian investor Abdul Latif Jameel Co., attended the company's November launch event in Los Angeles. Sumitomo Corporation of America has also invested an undisclosed amount of money and Standard Chartered has provided $200 million in debt financing. That in itself is reason enough for optimism about the inevitability of the electric transportation revolution.

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