Rivian and Mercedes-Benz Announce Strategic Partnership to Build Large Electric Vans

The companies both plan to invest on a common manufacturing site in Europe

Mercedes-Benz - Rivian strategic partnership announcement - featured
(Image: Mercedes-Benz/Rivian Automotive)
  • Mercedes-Benz and Rivian signed a Memorandum of Understanding Thursday, outlining a joint venture to build large electric vans sold under both brands.
  • Each van will arrive on a bespoke platform, with both companies investing to build out an electric-only facility to build the two models on an existing Mercedes-Benz site in Europe.
  • These next-generation large vans based on the Rivian Light Van (RLV) and Mercedes VAN.EA (MB Vans Electric Architecture) won’t arrive until at least 2025.

Rivian aims to expand its commercial van lineup, and it’s joining forces with Mercedes-Benz to make it happen in the next few years. The two automakers signed an agreement to that effect on Thursday, laying out its goals and a potential site where they will build large electric vans sometime around 2025.

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While it may sound like the two companies will produce a common, badge-engineered van on a jointly developed platform, that is not what Mercedes-Benz and Rivian have in mind. Instead, the official statement says, “They will aim to produce two large vans, one based on VAN.EA, the electric-only platform of Mercedes-Benz Vans, and the other based on the second generation electric-van, Rivian Light Van (RLV) platform.”

In other words, the two automakers aim to curb cost overruns (or “leverage operational synergies”) and share investment toward a common assembly line for their respective van. By forming a joint venture, they hope to rapidly scale up electric van production. In the next few years, the partnership will result in a new electric-only plant, built on an existing Mercedes-Benz site in Central or Eastern Europe.

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The new venture builds on both companies’ existing van lineups

Rivian, for its part, currently builds the last-mile Electric Delivery Van (EDV), in addition to the R1S SUV and R1T pickup. The EDV is part of a deal with Amazon, which holds an 18% stake in the company and has a contract for 100,000 units. Beyond that target, Rivian aims to sell the smaller van to other commercial buyers in 2023.

Mercedes-Benz also builds or plans to launch several electric vans, including the eVito/EQV, the eSprinter and the upcoming eCitan and EQT. By 2025, the German automaker plans to phase out gas and diesel-powered vans entirely.

As it stands, this is just a memorandum of understanding. The Mercedes-Rivian deal is still subject to regulatory approval. Ford officially dissolved its partnership with Rivian to build an electric vehicle last year.