Lincoln announced in January that it was making some kind of electric vehicle with Rivian, which Ford, Lincoln’s parent, has already invested a bunch of money in. That project is now reportedly on ice.
The car—probably an SUV of some sort, because that’s what sells and that’s what Rivian is already building—was to be Lincoln’s first battery-electric vehicle. But according to Automotive News, the car is dead for now, specifically because of coronavirus.
Lincoln informed its dealers of the decision Tuesday. Officials said the brand still planned to have its own EV eventually and could potentially co-develop a product with Rivian in the future but shelved the project because of the “current environment.”
Although the pandemic has delayed numerous vehicles currently in development, including the upcoming Ford Bronco Sport crossover, this appears to be the first announcement of a vehicle cancellation in the U.S. attributed to the crisis.
This could be the first of many new car launches either shelved for the time being or killed off entirely, as automakers reshuffle their offerings amid a huge drop off in sales. It’s also in large part because developing any new car—usually said to cost around $1 billion and take around five years in normal times—is a very expensive endeavor. And right now pretty much every automaker needs all of the cash it can get.
This plan also seems more like a temporary shelving than a permanent execution, per Lincoln’s statement.
“Our strategic commitment to Lincoln, Rivian and electrification remains unchanged and Lincoln’s future plans will include an all-electric vehicle consistent with its Quiet Flight DNA,” Lincoln said in a statement provided to Automotive News. Lincoln said it was still committed to its partnership with Rivian and would continue to work with the EV startup “on an alternative vehicle based on Rivian’s skateboard platform.”
Electric is the future, and so I would expect Lincoln to have some kind of electric car in that future, and with Rivian, since Ford has already invested so much, but if Lincoln doesn’t that might be because the badge itself isn’t here to stay long-term.