Rivian lands $350 million investment from Cox Automotive

Rivian, the adventure-minded electric automaker that plans to produce a pickup truck and SUV, has raised $350 million from global automotive services company Cox Automotive.

The two companies said Tuesday they will also “explore partnership opportunities in service operations, logistics, and digital retailing.” Further details weren’t provided. However, a statement from Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe suggests the partnership will help the EV startup provide services to its customers.

“We are building a Rivian ownership experience that matches the care and consideration that go into our vehicles,” Scaringe said. “As part of this, we are excited to work with Cox Automotive in delivering a consistent customer experience across our various touchpoints. Cox Automotive’s global footprint, service and logistics capabilities, and retail technology platform make them a great partner for us.”

Cox Automotive has a number of specialties, such as logistics, fleet management and service and digital retailing, which is the back-end retail support that a company selling and servicing vehicles will need. For instance, Cox Automotive launched in January a fleet services brand called Pivet that handles the task management, including everything from in-fleeting, de-fleeting, cleaning, detailing, fueling and charging, to maintenance, storage, parking and logistics.

While Rivian has never explicitly announced plans to have a subscription service to its vehicles, this type of service would come in handy if the automaker pursued that as a business model.

Cox Automotive has also been building out parts of its business to take advantage of the rise in electrified vehicles, including battery diagnostics and second-life battery applications.

Cox Automotive, as well as its parent company Cox Enterprises, has the reach Rivian is looking for. Cox Enterprises owns nearly 30 automotive brands, including Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book, Pivet, RideKleen and Manheim, which transports, services and auctions vehicles across more than 150 global locations.

The Cox Automotive partnership follows two other eye-popping investments this year. In February, Rivian raised $700 million in a round led by Amazon. Two months later, the company announced a $500 million investment from Ford Motor.

Despite all of these big-name investors, Rivian says it will remain an independent company, a desire repeated to TechCrunch on several occasions over the past year by Scaringe. Cox Automotive will add a representative to Rivian’s board.

“With the electrification of vehicles set to play a significant role in the new mobility future, this partnership opens another channel of discovery and learning for Cox Automotive,” Joe George, president of Cox Automotive Mobility Group said in a statement. “Advancements in battery technology and the electrification of fleets are two of our primary focus areas, and we believe this relationship will prove to be mutually beneficial.”

Rivian spent the majority of its life in the shadows until November 2018 when it revealed its all-electric R1T pickup and R1S SUV at the LA Auto Show. Scaringe launched the company as Mainstream Motors in 2009. By 2011, the name changed to Rivian and moved out of Florida. Today, the company has more than 1,000 employees split between four development locations in the U.S. and an office in the U.K. The bulk of its employees are in Michigan to be close to an expansive automotive supply chain.

The company also has operations in San Jose and Irvine, Calif., where engineers are working on autonomous vehicle technology. Rivian also owns a factory in Normal, Ill. that was once owned by Mitsubishi in a joint venture with Chrysler Corporation called Diamond-Star Motors.

Deliveries of these vehicles to customers in the U.S., which use a flexible skateboard platform, are expected to begin in late 2020.