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Electric Truck Unicorn Rivian, Backed By Amazon And Ford, Lands $350 Million Investment From Cox

Rivian, an innovative truck startup planning to produce all-electric pickups and SUVs that’s backed by Ford Motor Co. and Amazon, said Cox Automotive is investing $350 million and may partner with it on future business operations.

Led by 36-year-old founder and CEO RJ Scaringe, Plymouth, Michigan-based Rivian has ginned up excitement in the auto industry with its plans to launch a line of long-range, rechargeable light trucks, including the R1T pickup and R1S SUV, built off a highly functional “skateboard” platform that integrates the battery pack, drive components and suspension system. Ford invested $500 million in April and Amazon led a $700 million round in February.

Cox, which owns an extensive range of businesses related to auto sales and services, including consumer information sites Kelley Blue Book and Autotrader, retailer data services Dealer.com and Dealertrack, and automotive auction business Manheim, will also explore ways to help Rivian with service operations, logistics and digital retailing.

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“We are building a Rivian ownership experience that matches the care and consideration that go into our vehicles,” Scaringe said in a statement. “Cox Automotive’s global footprint, service and logistics capabilities and retail technology platform make them a great partner for us.”

A Clark Kent look-alike with a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from MIT, Scaringe has refined his ideas for electric vehicles over the past decade and could prove to be a major competitor to Tesla’s Elon Musk, who has his own plans for battery-powered trucks, ranging from a pickup to 18-wheel semis.

Rivian aims to begin production and sales of its first two models from late 2020, building them at the former Mitsubishi Motors Corp. assembly plant in Normal, Illinois, that it purchased in 2017 and is renovating. The company already has more than 1,000 employees and wants to begin selling its electric vehicles internationally from 2021.

Both the R1T and R1S are to have electric range of up to 400 miles per charge–well more than any of Tesla’s current EVs–and they are priced from $68,000 and $72,500, respectively.

Rivian’s fundraising in the past year has been prodigious and totals at least $2 billion with Cox’s investment. Still, it declined to provide an estimate valuation or confirm what stake is owned by Scaringe. In addition to the funding from Ford and Amazon, it raised $450 million in an earlier round that included Saudi Arabia-based investment group Abdul Latif Jameel, Su­mi­tomo Corp. of Japan and London’s Standard Chartered Bank.

“We are excited by Rivian’s unique approach to building an electrified future and to be part of the positive impact its products will bring to our roads and the world around us,” said Sandy Schwartz, president of Cox Automotive. “This investment complements Cox Automotive’s own commitment to environmental change through our Cox Conserves efforts.”

Along with its equity stake and potential business operations, Cox Automotive will have a seat on Rivian’s board.

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From Los Angeles, the U.S. capital of cars and congestion, I try to make sense of technology-driven changes reshaping transportation, cities and how we get around. I’ve tracked global automakers, advanced vehicle tech and environmental policy for more than two decades, including 15 years at Bloomberg, and squeezed in stints in the financial and corporate worlds. What’s your story?

Source: Electric Truck Unicorn Rivian, Backed By Amazon And Ford, Lands $350 Million Investment From Cox

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This May Be The Single Biggest Business Opportunity In Human History

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Dr. Jonathan Foley, 50, executive director for Project Drawdown, joined me for a discussion about climate change (watch in the video player below). His statement, “This may be the single biggest business opportunity in human history,” sounds like hyperbole but there may be no one better qualified to make that statement correctly.

With a PhD in atmospheric sciences from the University of Wisconsin and having spent three decades doing and managing research into climate change, he is certainly qualified on the science. His case that the business opportunity is there hinges on this key premise:

We literally have to reinvent our energy systems, our food systems, our manufacturing, our cities. Everything! You can look at that is like, ‘Crap, that’s a really big problem.’ I think we have to look at as “Wow, what a great opportunity!” especially if we do it right. We can improve lives. We can reduce inequity. We could solve some of our other social ills if we do it wisely. And we could build a better world for future generations and for ourselves.

If we’re going to have to reinvent so much of our modern world, the investment opportunity does begin to be interesting. Clearly, the need for investment capital is there. What about getting a return on that capital?

Project Drawdown, initially led by Paul Hawken, created a list of 100 climate solutions and published it in the New York Times bestseller Drawdown. The team, now led by Foley, is in the process of updating the list and hopes to have that done before the end of the year.

Here’s what the list indicates about financial returns, according to Foley. “There are dozens and dozens of solutions. If we add them all together, they’re more than enough to stop climate change if we really deployed them at scale. And the preliminary kind of financial analysis is for every dollar we spend doing this we return three to four more back to the economy. That’s not even counting, avoiding the damages of really bad climate change in the future, which it could be untold trillions and trillions of dollars and literally hundreds of millions of lives affected.”

He says we must look past the familiar solar and wind renewables that dominate the discussion about climate change solutions—not that they don’t work—simply because we need more than that.

Foley highlights five areas that make up 90% of climate change drivers:

  1. Electricity
  2. Food, land use and forestry
  3. Industry
  4. Buildings
  5. Transportation

In each of these areas there are opportunities for investors, businesses and entrepreneurs. Trillions will be spent and invested to reinvent the global economy to operate more sustainably.

The carbon impact of buildings is a mystery to some who are new to the climate conversation. Concrete is the biggest culprit, according to Foley. “If cement we’re a country, by the way, it would be the third largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world after China and the United States.”

Concrete doesn’t just require vast amounts of energy to produce, it also emits carbon throughout its life cycle. Entrepreneurs and investors, including Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, are working on new chemical approaches to cement that will require less carbon or that may even be capable of absorbing it.

Electric cars represent a huge opportunity as well. Over the next decade, if Foley’s belief is correct, much of the fleet of vehicles on the road today will be replaced by all-electric ones. “Two years ago Bloomberg News folks projected that battery powered cars, electric cars would be cheaper than gas car cars as soon as 2027; they just had to revise that the other day and say, nope, that’s gonna happen in 2022, because batteries are getting cheaper.”

Overall, Foley is remarkably optimistic about the future precisely because of market forces. “That’s what I love about these tech disruptions, that solar and wind now are cheaper than coal. You don’t need Washington to tell us don’t burn coal. No one is going to burn coal anymore; the market won. Electric cars: the market will win again.”

“Project Drawdown was a dramatic breakthrough – extending our perspective beyond energy production and consumption to the underlying drivers of energy use. It opens up a whole range of new options to address climate change and puts those in context with all the traditional solutions,” says Bob Perkowitz, president of ecoAmerica.

Only time will tell whether climate change represents the “single biggest business opportunity in history” but Foley makes a good case—and he’s a good one to make it.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

Deeply optimistic, I’m an author, educator and speaker; I call myself a champion of social good. Through my work, I hope to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems–poverty, disease and climate change. My books—read over 1 million times—on using money for good, personal finance, crowdfunding and corporate social responsibility draw on my experience as an investment banker, CFO, treasurer and mortgage broker. I have delivered a keynote speech at the United Nations and spoken in countries from Brazil to Russia and across the US. Previously, I worked on the U.S. Senate Banking Committee staff and earned an MBA at Cornell. Follow me on Twitter @devindthorpe. Reach me at forbes@devinthorpe.com.

 

 

 

 

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