Mercedes-Benz and Rivian Team Up to Build an Electric Van in Europe

Mercedes-Benz and Rivian have signed a preliminary agreement to build the van together. The pair have signed a memorandum of understanding that still needs to remove relevant regulatory hurdles, but the deal will see the two start a new joint manufacturing company if completed. The company will build two bespoke vans, one for each brand.

Rivian and Mercedes formed this new company to lead to investment and plant operations in Central/Eastern Europe. This “electrical-only production facility” will take advantage of a Mercedes factory located somewhere on the continent, but the company did not disclose where. With this agreement, the two plan to design vehicles that are optimized for “efficient manufacturing.”

The timeline for these events is ambiguous. In a press release, Mercedes-Benz said that production would not start for “a few years.” The facility will build vehicles based on Mercedes’ VAN.EA platform that will underpin the company’s electric vans. All company vans using this platform will run on electricity only from 2025. The factory will also produce vans based on Rivian’s second generation RLV (Rivian Light Van) architecture.

The two companies hope their partnership can reduce the cost of electric vans for commercial vehicle owners. Both will “rapidly scale” production of electric vans to help transition to EVs, hoping that investment and cost sharing will cut prices.

“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 technology position,” said Mathias Geisen, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans. Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe said that Rivian was also “excited to partner” with Mercedes on the project.

This is not the first collaboration with Rivian, which has had a deal to build vehicles with Ford. However, the deal expires at the end of 2021. Rivian also has ties to Amazonbuild an all-electric delivery car for the online shopping giant.

This initial deal shows promise, but it’s not a deal yet, and it’s unclear when it will happen. An ambiguous timeline gives couples a lot of freedom to adjust plans as needed. The two can also explore additional synergies between the companies.

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