Mercedes-Benz Vans, Rivian Plan Battery-Electric Van JV

With a memorandum of understanding in place, Mercedes-Benz Vans plans to team up with Rivian, the young maker of all-electric pickup trucks, SUVs and delivery vans, to build a manufacturing plant.

The strategic partnership envisioned by the memorandum of understanding would see the two companies create a joint-venture manufacturing business to operate a plant in Europe producing large electric vans for Mercedes-Benz Vans and Rivian, starting “within a few years”, according to companies. in a joint statement.

According to the companies, the aim is to create a completely new all-electric production plant building on an existing Mercedes-Benz site in Central or Eastern Europe.

Mercedes-Benz Vans executives note that it is a pioneer in zero-emissions transporters, having started selling a battery-electric van in 2010. Mercedes-Benz Vans customers can choose from four vans electric vehicles, including the eVito Panel Van, eSprinter, eVito Tourer and EQV.

With the new eCitan and the upcoming EQT, the van portfolio will soon be completely electrified. The next-generation eSprinter will be launched in 2023.

“I am delighted that as part of this transformation, we are now joining forces with Rivian – a very dynamic and inspiring partner with a strong technological position,” notes Mathias Geisen, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans.

“We share investment and technology because we also share the same strategic ambition: to accelerate the electrification of the van market with sustainable and superior products for our customers,” he adds. “From 2025, all vans based on our new VAN.EA architecture will be electric only.”

For Rivian, the partnership with Mercedes-Benz vans comes at a critical time.

Rivian says it lost $1.7 billion in the second quarter as it struggled to ramp up production at its Normal, IL plant. The company’s successful IPO last November left the company sitting on sizable cash reserves of $15.5 billion. But Rivian stock is now trading at around $37 per share, well below its 52-week high of $179, reflecting some skepticism about the company’s ambitious plans.

Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe says he still expects the company to build 25,000 vehicles this year. It also ships electric vans to Amazon, which owns 18% of the BEV maker and has ordered 100,000 of its delivery vans. (picture below). However, Ford, one of Rivian’s early investors, dropped its partnership with the start-up.

AmazonRivian Amazon van (Amazon).jpg

Online retail giant Amazon has ordered 100,000 Rivian delivery vans.

“We are delighted to partner with Mercedes-Benz on this project. Mercedes-Benz is one of the best known and most respected automakers in the world, and we are confident that together we will produce truly remarkable electric vans that will benefit not only our customers, but also the planet,” adds Scaringe.

Rivian says its goal is to create a brand and product portfolio with “maximum impact” in the shift to carbon-neutral transportation. The R1T pickup, R1S SUV and electric last mile delivery van are Rivian’s first vehicles in the consumer and commercial space.

Not all automotive MoUs result in a four-wheeled product. The proposed agreement between Mercedes-Benz Vans and Rivian is “subject to the parties entering into binding definitive agreements and obtaining relevant regulatory clearances.”

The companies, however, say they are considering production-optimized vehicle designs for efficient manufacturing on common assembly lines. They will aim to produce two large vans, one based on VAN.EA, Mercedes-Benz Vans’ electric-only platform, and the other based on the second-generation Rivian Light Van platform.

By working together, the companies say they will be able to operate profitably to help make minivans affordable for commercial customers driven by total cost of ownership.

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