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Lincoln could tap into Rivian’s expertise to build an electric off-roader

Ford’s mysterious, $500 million investment in startup Rivian is beginning to make more sense. The Blue Oval’s Lincoln division is in the early stages of developing an electric SUV built on Rivian’s skateboard chassis, according to insiders.

Citing several people who are familiar with the program, Reuters reported the yet-unnamed Lincoln will be the Ford group’s first model built on Rivian’s electric architecture. It’s the same hardware found under the R1T and the R1S introduced during the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, and tentatively scheduled to enter production by the end of 2020.

Neither Lincoln nor Rivian has commented on the report, and we’re taking it with a grain of salt. It’s too early to tell whether the model will be part of the Navigator family, or if it will be positioned as a stand-alone model. But, if it’s built with Rivian technology, it will receive a sizable lithium-ion battery pack mounted directly under the passenger compartment and an electric motor for each wheel. It should offer sports car-like acceleration, and approximately 400 miles of driving range.

Reuters added Lincoln’s Rivian-based EV will begin arriving in showrooms halfway through 2022, a timeline that gives both companies enough time to prepare for production. Supplier sources working with Lincoln on the project anonymously revealed where production will take place hasn’t been decided yet. The United States and China will be its main markets.

When it lands, assuming the report is accurate, the SUV will join a smaller electric model that Lincoln is believed to be developing without Rivian’s input. It stands to reason the crossover will share powertrain parts with the recently unveiled Ford Mustang Mach-E to help both companies leverage the benefits of economies of scale. It’s due out in late 2021, while a model positioned between the two aforementioned EVs will allegedly arrive in 2023.

While electric pickups like the aforementioned R1T, the Tesla Cybertruck, and many others are making headlines, the battery-powered SUV segment is also beginning to swell in size. If the rumor is accurate, Lincoln’s upcoming SUV will need to fend off competition from the R1S it will share powertrain parts with, the rumored born-again Hummer, and an electric variant of the next-generation Cadillac Escalade, the Navigator’s arch-nemesis.

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