Mercedes-Benz and Rivian have signed an initial agreement to build vans together. The pair have signed a memorandum of understanding that still needs to clear the relevant regulatory hurdles, but the deal would see the two start a new joint venture manufacturing company if completed. The company would build two bespoke vans, one for each brand.
Rivian and Mercedes are forming this new company to lead to the investment and operation of a factory in Central/Eastern Europe. This “electric-only production facility” will utilise an existing Mercedes factory somewhere on the continent, but the company did not disclose where. With this agreement, the two plan to design vehicles optimised for “efficient manufacturing.”
Gallery: Rivian R1S
The timeline for this happening is ambiguous. In the press release, Mercedes-Benz says that production would not start for “a few years.” The facility will build a vehicle based on Mercedes’ VAN.EA platform that will underpin the company’s electric vans. All of the company’s vans riding on this platform will be electric-only starting in 2025. The plant will also produce a van 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. The two will “rapidly scale” electric van production to aid in the transition to EVs, hoping that the sharing of investments and costs will cut prices.
“I am delighted that as part of this transformation we are now joining forces with Rivian – a highly 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 “delighted to be partnering” with Mercedes on the project.
This isn’t Rivian’s first partnership, which once had an agreement to build vehicles together with Ford. However, that deal ended in late 2021. Rivian also has a tie-up with Amazon, building an all-electric delivery van for the online shopping behemoth.
This initial agreement shows promise, but it’s not a done deal yet, and it’s unclear when it will be. The ambiguous timeline gives the pair plenty of freedom to adjust plans as needed. The two could also explore additional synergies between the companies.