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Mercedes-Benz and Rivian Sign Agreement to Produce Electric Vans

Mercedes-Benz e-Sprinter | Photo: Mercedes-Benz
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Daniel Rufiange
In Mercedes-Benz, Rivian gets a solid partner going forward
Mercedes-Benz and Rivian logos
Mercedes-Benz and Rivian logos | Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Rivian has shown a lot of promise since its inception, but not everything has been smooth sailing for the upstart EV maker. The pandemic didn't help, but the production rate it initially anticipated has been difficult to achieve, a situation that made some people doubt it.

Ford invested heavily in the venture early on, but the agreement for vehicle production between the two manufacturers was subsequently cancelled. Another agreement with Amazon has seen Rivian working hard to fill an order for 100,000 electric vans. In short, there's been no shortage of action.

This time, Rivian’s dance partner is Mercedes-Benz. The EV maker and the German automaker’s van division today announced a memorandum of understanding to begin a “strategic partnership” that, pending regulatory processes, will lead to the creation of a new joint venture dedicated to producing electric vans.

The plan calls for the construction of a new plant exclusively dedicated to building electric vans in Central or Eastern Europe, “leveraging an existing Mercedes-Benz site”. The new production facility would focus on building full-size electric vans for Rivian and Mercedes-Benz.

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Two models are already being planned.

The first is based on one of the three electric architectures Mercedes-Benz wants to put forward by 2025, the van-specific VAN.EA structure. The other model will sit on Rivian's second-generation platform, the RLV (Rivian Light Van). It's not yet clear how these vehicles will be marketed (names, brand, etc.), but logically, one could carry the German automaker’s century-old logo, the other the U.S. company's name.

The companies said that “further options for increased synergies” are being explored, so the joint venture won't necessarily be limited to these two models. The partnership aims to strengthen and reduce production costs to make electric vans more affordable... and competitive.

Mercedes is already working on an electric Sprinter (eSprinter), which should launch in 2023. Rivian, meanwhile, is ramping up production of its model as Amazon begins rolling out delivery vans in cities across the U.S. Starting in 2025, all new Mercedes vans will be assembled on the VAN.EA platform. The announced joint venture is expected to be operational by that time.

Rivian vans destinéed for Amazon
Rivian vans destinéed for Amazon | Photo: Rivian
Daniel Rufiange
Daniel Rufiange
Automotive expert
  • Over 17 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 75 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 250 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists