Amazon discloses 20% stake in electric vehicle maker Rivian ahead of IPO

October 29, 2021, 5:15 PM UTC

Amazon.com Inc. owns a 20% stake in electric-vehicle maker Rivian Automotive Inc., the startup with which it has placed an order for 100,000 battery-powered delivery vans, the e-commerce giant disclosed Friday in a securities filing.

As of Sept. 30, Amazon held equity investments “including preferred stock of Rivian Automotive, Inc. representing an approximately 20% ownership interest,” which will be valued on the balance sheet at $3.8 billion—up from $2.7 billion at the end of 2020, Amazon said in the filing.

Amazon shares pared losses of more than 5% after the disclosure of its investment in Rivian to trade down 2.8% to $3,347.27 as of at 12:41 p.m. in New York. The stock has gained just 2.8% in 2021, trailing the S&P 500 Index significantly.

Rivian is seen as a genuine contender in the EV market and potential rival to incumbent Tesla Inc. The startup’s raised more than $10.5 billion from investors to date and is seeking a valuation of $80 billion in an IPO later this year, Bloomberg reported in August. 

Rivian said in a filing last week that it could post a quarterly loss of as much as $1.28 billion as it ramps up production on its debut EV, a battery-electric pickup called R1T. The Irvine, California-based company had disclosed in a separate filing earlier this year that Amazon had invested more than $1.3 billion in the automaker and held almost 150 million shares of preferred stock.

Amazon’s voting power as a percentage was redacted. A representative for Rivian declined to comment.

Ties that bind

Peter Krawiec, a senior vice president of worldwide corporate and business development at Amazon, is on Rivian’s board. The Seattle-based company’s order for electric delivery vans extends through the end of the decade, with the first 10,000 units due before the end of next year. The order is a cornerstone of Amazon’s ambitious plan to curb its rising greenhouse gas emissions.

Limited production of Rivian’s debut pickup started in August and customer deliveries began last month. The startup has encountered numerous delays it has blamed on COVID-induced supply-chain challenges. Rivian has pushed back production of its second consumer model, a sports-utility vehicle called the R1S. 

It’s also prioritizing manpower and resources for production of Amazon’s van over its retail consumer-focused models, Bloomberg reported last month.

All three vehicles—the truck, van and SUV—will be built at Rivian’s plant in Normal, Illinois. The company is in talks to invest $5 billion for a second factory in Fort Worth, Texas, Bloomberg reported in August. It’s also assessing options for a plant in Europe that could also build Amazon vans, Bloomberg reported in January.

Other investors in the EV maker include Ford Motor Co., which has invested more than $820 million in Rivian and holds a stake greater than 5%. Ford recenly vacated its Rivian board seat.

For Amazon, the bet on Rivian represents one of its biggest investments, in dollar terms, in another company. The e-retailer’s corporate development group has put cash into startups working on voice technology related to the Alexa digital assistant. Other investments feature companies that are its suppliers or partners. The roster includes investments—or warrants to buy stock in—food distributor SpartanNash Co. and air cargo operator Air Transport Services Group Inc.

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