Rivian and Mercedes Are Teaming Up On Electric Vans

"A Memorandum of Understanding to initiate a strategic partnership" is the kind of language only a business-school grad could write.

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Image for article titled Rivian and Mercedes Are Teaming Up On Electric Vans
Image: Rivian

Rivian makes some fantastic cars, but it also makes a line of vans for Amazon. The company has said it plans to expand those sales beyond the 2022 World Union Busting Champion, but it’s been light on details about how it plans to actually meet that production volume. Now, the answer is becoming clearer: a joint production facility in Europe, built with Mercedes-Benz.

Rivian has signed an agreement to consider a partnership to pursue a deal in cooperation with Mercedes’ van division, with the goal of building a new electric van factory in “Central/Eastern Europe. If that sounds convoluted and vague, that’s because it is — Rivian acknowledges that the “Memorandum of Understanding” is non-binding, and requires nothing of either party; any further partnership would be subject to regulatory approval.

Image for article titled Rivian and Mercedes Are Teaming Up On Electric Vans
Photo: Amazon

Interestingly, the two brands’ proposed partnership doesn’t include standardizing to one platform. Instead, the joint factory will produce two vans — one based on Mercedes’ MB Vans Electric Architecture platform, and the other on Rivian’s Rivian Light Van platform. It’s unclear whether the two would overlap in capability, or whether both companies would sell both vans as part of a full fleet lineup.

Rivian’s statement says that the two companies “will be able to leverage operations synergies and substantially increase cost efficiency to help make the vans more affordable for commercial customers driven by total cost of ownership.” Though, since the two vans operate on different platforms, and likely require different materials, components, and tooling, it’s not entirely clear what “operations synergies” might be involved.

As is typical for memorandums to consider the possibility initiating a strategic partnership, Rivian’s release doesn’t include any firm deadlines for the factory’s construction. I guess we’ll have to wait to discover exactly what synergies and efficiencies we’ll be graced with.