Lincoln will launch its first electric vehicle with help from Rivian

Lincoln will launch its first production electric car with help from startup Rivian. Confirming previous reports, Lincoln announced that it will use Rivian’s “skateboard” platform for an upcoming electric vehicle. The partnership stems from Lincoln parent Ford’s investment in Rivian. Neither company would discuss a launch date, but a previous report said the electric Lincoln could arrive by 2022.

Lincoln didn’t offer much detail on the planned electric vehicle, but we do know a bit about the Rivian skateboard platform. It’s essentially a flat rectangle that contains all mechanical components, with four wheels attached (hence the skateboard reference). This allows Rivian to easily plop different bodies onto the basic chassis. Rivian has already shown an electric pickup truck called the R1T and an electric SUV called the R1S. Both will do zero to 60 mph in 3.0 seconds and have a range of up to 400 miles, according to Rivian.

The Rivian skateboard platform was developed for off-road vehicles, so it’s likely the upcoming electric Lincoln will be an SUV. As cool as it would be to see an electric reincarnation of the Lincoln Blackwood or Mark LT, the brand’s short-lived early 2000s pickups, SUVs are the cash cows. In a press release announcing the Rivian partnership, Lincoln noted that its 2019 SUV sales were the highest in 16 years. At the same time, Lincoln plans to discontinue the MKZ sedan in order to free up production capacity for other vehicles, leaving the Continental as the only non-SUV in the lineup. It’s a reflection of parent Ford’s current disinterest in cars.

Ford is eliminating most cars from its United States lineup, leaving only the Mustang. Ford unveiled its Mustang Mach-E electric SUV in late 2019, and is also working on an electric version of its bestselling F-150 pickup and a small electric car based on Volkswagen’s MEB platform, but the latter probably won’t be sold in the U.S.

In addition to borrowing VW’s MEB platform, Ford has also made a deal to use the German automaker’s Electrify America charging network for the Mustang Mach-E. Electrify America was created as part of VW’s diesel emissions cheating settlement, which requires the automaker to invest in zero-emission vehicle infrastructure. The charging network is open to cars from all manufacturers, and the existing relationship with Ford means Lincoln’s electric vehicle will likely use it. Lincoln currently sells plug-in hybrid versions of the Aviator and Corsair, but will need to offer more charging support for an all-electric model in order to alleviate customer concerns.

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