Mercedes-Benz Vans, Rivian to partner on electric van production

Strategic partnership to result in joint production of electric vans for both firms

Mercedes-Benz Vans, a provider of electric private and commercial vans, and electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian have announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to initiate a strategic partnership. The partnership is expected to enable the companies to cooperate on the production of electric vans.

Subject to the parties entering into final binding agreements and to obtaining the relevant regulatory clearances, the companies intend to establish a new joint venture manufacturing company with the purpose of investing in, and operating, a factory in Europe to produce large electric vans for Mercedes-Benz Vans and Rivian, starting in a few years. The target is to build an all-new electric-only production facility leveraging an existing Mercedes-Benz site in Europe.

battery electric vehicles Rivian and Mercedes-Benz Vans have signed a MOU to jointly build battery-electric vans. A new Rivian R1S is shown outside the Rivian factory in Normal, Ill. (Photo: Chad Elmore)

The companies envisage production-optimized vehicle designs for efficient manufacturing on common assembly lines. They will aim to produce two large vans, one based on VAN.EA (MB Vans Electric Architecture), the electric-only platform of Mercedes-Benz Vans, and the other based on the second generation electric-van, Rivian Light Van (RLV) platform. Further options for increased synergies from the joint venture will also be explored.

The joint venture reportedly mirrors the common objectives of Mercedes-Benz Vans and Rivian: both companies plan to rapidly scale the production of electric vans to help the world transition to cleaner transportation. By working together, the companies said they will be able to leverage operations synergies and substantially increase cost efficiency to help make the vans more affordable for commercial customers driven by total cost of ownership.

“Rivian was created to encourage the world to transition away from fossil fuel consumption by creating compelling products and services,” said RJ Scaringe, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Rivian. “We’re delighted to be partnering with Mercedes-Benz on this project. Mercedes-Benz is one of the world’s best known and respected automotive companies, and we believe that together we will produce truly remarkable electric vans which will not only benefit our customers, but the planet.”

“As a pioneer in the field of locally emission-free transportation Mercedes Benz Vans has gained broad experience in producing and launching eVans since 2010,” said Mathias Geisen, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans. “Now we are accelerating the transformation to a fully electric product portfolio. From 2025 onwards, all vans based on our new architecture VAN.EA will be electric-only. 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. We are sharing investments and technology because we also share the same strategic ambition: accelerating the electrification of the van market with sustainable and superior products for our customers.”

With Vito E-CELL in 2010, Mercedes-Benz Vans said it was a pioneer in the field of locally emission-free transporters. Today, its customers can choose from four battery-electric driven vans: the eVito Panel Van, the eSprinter, the eVito Tourer and the 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.

From the middle of the decade, Mercedes-Benz Vans implements the next stage in its electrification strategy with VAN.EA (MB Vans Electric Architecture). Starting in 2025, all mid-size and large vans based on the new modular architecture will be electric-only.

The R1T pickup, R1S SUV, and Electric Delivery Van (“EDV”) last-mile delivery vans are Rivian’s first vehicles in the consumer and commercial space. The EDV was designed and engineered by Rivian in collaboration with Amazon. Production is under way for all three models at the company’s factory in Normal, Ill.

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