It was big news when Ford Motor Co. announced it was partnering with Volkswagen on several projects, in particular electric vehicles. However, Ford’s first two EVs since that partnership haven’t involved the German automaker at all.
The new Mustang Mach-E was developed in-house and now the company is preparing a new battery-electric SUV for Lincoln that appears to ride on a custom electrified chassis similar to the skateboard developed by EV maker Rivian, Reuters reported.
Ford invested $500 million into Detroit-based Rivian earlier this year, saying at the time that would likely share technology, including the start-up’s skateboard style platform.
The new electrified Lincoln SUV is due in mid-2022 and will be the first Ford built on the Rivian skateboard, according to several people familiar with the program. Ford officials declined to comment while Rivian did not respond to a request for comment.
The all-wheel-drive Lincoln SUV might compete against Rivian’s R1S electric sport-utility vehicle. It is expected go into production in early 2021 with prices starting at $72,500, Reuters reported. Both models will use Rivian’s skateboard.
The skateboard is a flexible platform that combines electric motors, batteries, controls and suspension. Its primary advantage is that a variety of different vehicles can be developed from that chassis.
According to Reuters, the new Lincoln ute carries the internal program code U787. It’s likely to be ready in time to compete with other luxury EVs from competitors Tesla, Jaguar, Volvo and even General Motors Co., which is expected to roll out luxury utes from Cadillac and, perhaps, Hummer by 2023.
At this time there are few unknowns, such as what the new Lincoln will be named and where it will be built. Rivian’s plant is in Normal, Illinois, but it’s unlikely that Ford will build a vehicle there. The more plausible scenario is for it to get skateboards shipped from the Rivian plant to its own facility, perhaps the plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, where Ford has invested millions of dollars prepping it to build electric vehicles.
Ford plans to introduce a compact Lincoln electric crossover in late 2021 or early 2022 and a mid-size companion in 2023, sources told Reuters. Lincoln’s EVs are expected to also be sold in EV-hungry China.
In the meantime, Rivian is charging ahead with the ongoing development of its electric truck and aforementioned SUV. Additionally, the company, which started in 2009 and has raised $1.9 billion from investors, including e-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc., is also working meeting an order of 100,000 electric delivery vehicles for Amazon. Those vans will be built in Normal and are to be delivered in 2021.
Ford’s $11.5 billion EV plan not only includes the Mach-E and the unnamed Lincoln SUV, but also a battery-electric F-Series pickup, which has already been shown to the public in some form when it was used to pull 1 million pounds of trains earlier this summer. The goal is to have the pickup ready by late 2021, sources have said.