Rivian, the upstart electric vehicle company based in suburban Detroit, has scored a third large investor as it races to complete development of its battery-powered truck and SUV for 2020 launches.
The company said Tuesday that Cox Automotive, parent company of well-known brands Manheim, AutoTrader, Kelley Blue Book and DealerTrack, is investing $350 million in Rivian. It is the first equity investment for Cox Automotive, or its parent Cox Enterprises, in an automaker.
Rivian and Cox Automotive also said they will explore "partnership opportunities in service operations, logistics and digital retailing."
Earlier this year, Amazon and Ford Motor Co. announced major investments in Rivian. Ford kicked in $500 million, while Amazon led a $700 million investment group.
"We are excited to work with Cox Automotive in delivering a consistent customer experience across our various touchpoints," Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe said in a statement. "Cox Automotive's global footprint, service and logistics capabilities, and retail technology platform make them a great partner for us."
Rivian plans to follow Tesla's retail strategy of foregoing the traditional dealership model and selling directly to customers. That presents some challenges, namely the distribution of repair parts, and service. It's unclear if the Cox investment could help Rivian with those issues.
Joe George, president of Cox Automotive's mobility group, said in a statement: "This partnership opens another channel of discovery and learning for Cox Automotive. Advancements in battery technology and the electrification of fleets are two of our primary focus areas, and we believe this relationship will prove to be mutually beneficial."
It was unclear what percentage of equity Cox Automotive was acquiring with its minority investment. It will have a representative on Rivian's board of directors. The two companies will remain independent.