Ford has invested US$500m in Rivian and the two companies will develop a new, battery electric vehicle for the automaker using Rivian’s skateboard platform.

“This strategic partnership marks another key milestone in our drive to accelerate the transition to sustainable mobility,” said RJ Scaringe, Rivian founder and CEO.

“Ford has a long-standing commitment to sustainability, with Bill Ford being one of the industry’s earliest advocates, and we are excited to use our technology to get more electric vehicles on the road.”

“We are excited to invest in and partner with Rivian,” said Bill Ford, Ford’s executive chairman.

“I have gotten to know and respect RJ, and we share a common goal to create a sustainable future for our industry through innovation.”

Rivian already has developed two clean-sheet vehicles. The company’s launch products – the five-passenger R1T pickup and seven-passenger R1S SUV – will deliver up to 400-plus miles of range plus performance, off-road capability and utility, from late 2020.

“As we continue in our transformation of Ford with new forms of intelligent vehicles and propulsion, this partnership with Rivian brings a fresh approach to both,” said Jim Hackett, Ford president and CEO.

“At the same time, we believe Rivian can benefit from Ford’s industrial expertise and resources.”

Ford intends to develop a new vehicle using Rivian’s flexible skateboard platform. This is in addition to its plans to develop a range of battery electric vehicles.

As part of its previously announced $11bn EV investment, Ford already has confirmed two key fully electric vehicles: a Mustang-inspired crossover coming in 2020 and a zero emissions version of the F-150 pickup.

Rivian remains an independent company.

The investment is subject to regulatory approval.

Following Ford’s investment, Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of automotive, will join Rivian’s seven member board.

Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at Autotrader, said: “Ford’s investment in Rivian is a smart one. Ford has committed to producing numerous electrified vehicles in the future, including pickup trucks, and Rivian has an intriguing concept to get the job done.

“Rivian leverages Ford’s leadership, expertise and massive volume in pickup trucks as well as its vast distribution network.

“The Amazon investment in the Rivian mix may well give Ford an in with the delivery services, possibly with electric cargo vans. And, of course, sport utility vehicles are another big opportunity the two could collaborate on.

“Bigger picture, the first step to proliferate electric vehicles, and ultimately autonomous vehicles, is through commercial fleets.”