Mercedes-Benz and EV start-up Rivian have agreed to partner on the joint production of large electric vans for both brands in Europe, they have announced in a joint statement.
The two companies will produce the vans at a new facility “leveraging an existing Mercedes-Benz site in central/eastern Europe”, the statement said.
The surprise link-up between the two deals a blow to the hopes of the Gravity business park in Somerset, which had been hoping to persuade the American EV maker to build a production facility there.
The Netherlands’ Nedcar manufacturing facility, currently home of Mini Countryman production, was also talking to Rivian.
The joint partnership will enable Rivian and Mercedes “to leverage operations synergies and substantially increase cost efficiency”, the statement said.
The companies said they plan to produce two large vans, one based on VAN.EA (MB Vans Electric Architecture), the electric-only platform of Mercedes-Benz Vans, and the other based on the Rivian’s second-generation electric van, the Rivian Light Van (RLV).
Rivian already makes the large Electric Delivery Van (EDV) 700 at its facility in Normal, Illinois, and has started development on the shorter EDV 500.
Rivian vans are initially being produced for Amazon, which has a standing order with the company totalling 100,000.
No timing was given for the start of European production, but Mercedes said in the statement that it will start offering vehicles on its VAN.EA architecture from 2025.
The Mercedes electric van range currently comprises the eSprinter the eVito, plus the EQV MPV. A new eCitan compact van based on the Renault Kangoo and the EQT MPV are due later this year. The next-generation eSprinter will be launched in 2023.
Rivian’s partnership will help Mercedes with the economies of scale needed to produce its bigger vans, including potentially sharing batteries.
Rivian has begun using cheaper iron-based LFP lithium ion technology for its batteries, and both companies could utilise the new factory recently announced by CATL for Hungary, of which Mercedes is the primary customer.