by Keith Naughton | bloomberg
Ford Motor Co. has vacated its seat on the board of Rivian Automotive Inc. as the Irvine-based electric-truck startup prepares to go public with an estimated valuation of $80 billion.
Doug Power, Ford’s newly appointed vice president of corporate development, stepped down from Rivian’s board last month. She was replaced by founder Henry Ford’s great-granddaughter, Alexandra Ford English, who left Rivian in May when she became a director at her illustrious company.
Rivian has just begun production of its much-anticipated R1T plug-in pickup, a competitor to Ford’s upcoming electric F-150 Lightning, set to debut next spring. General Motors Co. and Tesla Inc. also have electric pickups coming in 2022 as the market for those models heats up. Rivian also has a lucrative contract and financial backing from Amazon.com Inc., which has ordered 100,000 electric delivery vans.
related: Where did Rivian’s electric truck come from? It’s a long, messy road
Ford has invested more than $820 million in Rivian, giving it a more than 5% stake in the California-based automotive startup, according to documents Rivian filed ahead of its public offering. The two companies last year canceled plans to jointly develop an electric vehicle for Ford’s Lincoln luxury line.
“This is still a strategic investment and we are still working with Rivian to work out a possible collaboration,” Ford spokesman Ian Thibodeau said. “We had a board seat because Rivian was a private company, but as soon as they go public, Ford will no longer have a board presence.”
When Ford joined the board of English Rivian, he replaced Joe Heinrichs, Ford’s former automotive president, who had left the company due to a sudden change in management. At the time, Rvian founder and CEO RJ Scaring praised Ford English for its “deep passion for mobility and electrification, and its connection to Ford’s long family role in transportation”.
In other Rivian news, Amazon founder and former CEO Jeff Bezos shuttled passengers in a Rivian truck to the Blue Origin launch pad on Wednesday. It was the second crewed flight into suborbital space with a manifest, including 90-year-old “Star Trek” actor William Shatner, who became the oldest man to blast off the planet. Blue Origin passengers locked in a Rivian truck. The crew launched Wednesday morning on a 10-minute ride to space and back.