Rivian is set to partner with Mercedes to build a new generations of vans for the European market. The two brands have signed a memorandum of understanding that will pave the way for an official joint venture to build two new large electric vans.
The American electric car start-up has been looking for a European partner to help broaden its production capacity, and is understood to have investigated deals with Nedcar in The Netherlands and a British consortium based at Gravity business park in Somerset before opting for a contract with Mercedes.
The deal will result in the production of two all-new, all-electric vans. The new models will share design and components but will be badged Rivian and Mercedes. Production sharing is a common practice in the commercial vehicle sector. The Citan small van, for example, is based on the Renault Kangoo.
Although Mercedes already has a number of all-electric options in its range: the eSprinter and eVito, the brand is working on an all-new electric van platform that will underpin its next generation of commercial vehicles. Known as VAN.EA (Van Electric Architecture), the new foundations will provide the foundations for a new Sprinter, which are likely to launch in 2025.
The deal with Rivian will see Mercedes add a second all-electric model to its range. This will be based on Rivian’s new platform, known as RLV (Rivian Light Van). The American brand already makes a large electric van in the US thanks to a 100,000 unit order from online retail giant Amazon. Rivian is expected to add a smaller version next year when it opens up orders to other customers.
The two companies have confirmed that production of the new European vans will take place at an existing Mercedes site in Eastern Europe. Chinese battery maker CATL is planning a new facility in Hungary and is widely expected to supply the new joint venture with packs when production starts in 2025.