In its early days, Rivian counted Ford among its biggest investors, but after The Blue Oval decided not to use the EV automaker’s Skateboard platform in its own vehicles, things began to falter somewhat. In fact, Ford wound up selling most of its Rivian shares last year, leaving it with a very small stake in the company. Now, the two companies are set to square off in the EV van market after Rivian and Amazon decided to nullify the part of their agreement that dictates only the retailing giant can purchase those models, opening the door for other customers to buy those vans – a strategy that Ford CEO Jim Farley previously called a “flawed” one. Now, Rivian has its found its first/second customer – AT&T, according to Reuters.
AT&T reportedly plans to purchase a number of vehicles from Rivian in an effort to cut costs and emissions, and it isn’t just acquiring the brand’s all-electric van, but also its R1T pickup and R1S crossover as well, with deliveries expected to begin in early 2024. Neither company disclosed how many units AT&T will purchase, nor how much it plans to spend, however. “This pilot is another important step in our ongoing efforts toward sustainability, reducing our carbon footprint, and embracing a cleaner future for our operations,” Hardmon Williams, senior vice president of AT&T Connected Solutions said in a statement.
Rivian did note that it has a number of other customers that are considering adding its EV vans to their fleets, citing a “lot of interest and demand” in that regard. Regardless, the automaker still plans to supply Amazon with 100,000 vans by 2030, of which 10,000 have been delivered thus far.
The Rivian van will certainly face stiff competition from the Ford E-Transit in that space, as demand for that model has thus far exceeded FoMoCo’s expectations, prompting it to work to ramp up production. The E-Transit has also remained atop the EV van sales charts since its launch, though admittedly, it hasn’t faced much competition thus far.