Rivian Partners With Mercedes-Benz to Make Electric Vans and Have a European Factory

Rivian and Mercedes-Benz will have a partnership for electric van in Europe 13 photos
Photo: Rivian/Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz plans to reduce its offer of entry-level vehiclesRJ Scaringe, the Rivian CEO, and Mathias Geisen, head of Mercedes-Benz VansRivian and Mercedes-Benz will have a partnership for electric van in EuropeA rare sighting of the future delivery van Rivian developed for AmazonA rare sighting of the future delivery van Rivian developed for AmazonA rare sighting of the future delivery van Rivian developed for AmazonA rare sighting of the future delivery van Rivian developed for AmazonRivian EDVRivian EDVRivian EDVRivian EDVRivian revealed all derivatives of its delivery vans in IPO: EDV 500, 700, and 900.
In August 2021, we said that Rivian was looking for the perfect location for its European factory. The UK, Germany, and the Netherlands were allegedly negotiating with the American EV maker. A new deal may sort this out in an unexpected way: Rivian and Mercedes-Benz signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to make electric vans in Europe.
At first, the deal is related only to commercial vehicles. However, the companies already warned that “further options for increased synergies from the joint venture will also be explored.” That can mean a lot of possibilities both for Rivian and Mercedes-Benz, but let’s first explore the concrete plans for now.

According to the automakers, the European electric vans will use two platforms: the MB Vans Electric Architecture (VAN.EA) and the Rivian Light Van (RLV). The first already underpins the Mercedes-Benz EQV. When Rivian develops its vehicle over it, the American EV maker will enter a new market segment for its products. Regarding the RLV platform, it underpins the EDV 500, EDV 700, and EDV 900, also known as Amazon delivery vans.

Mercedes-Benz currently sells an electric version of the Sprinter, which competes in the same market segment as the EDV products. However, it has an adapted platform created from a combustion engine architecture, just like the EQC. With Rivian’s platform, the German automaker may offer a product without the same compromises.

For Rivian, the deal allows it to enter the European market with local products. Although it will probably export the R1T and R1S from the U.S., building its electric vans in “an all-new electric-only production facility” should “help make the vans more affordable for commercial customers driven by total cost of ownership.” The companies revealed that this plant will be “an existing Mercedes-Benz site in Central/Eastern Europe.”

Although Mercedes Benz has a factory in Kecskemet, Hungary, it is currently pretty busy making the company’s compact cars, such as the A-Class, the B-Class, and the CLA-Class. The problem is that the company revealed in May plans to cut almost half of its entry-level vehicles because they are not as profitable as top-end luxury cars. With that, the Hungarian plant could be dedicated to EVs.

However, what seems most likely is that the German company may convert one of its factories in Germany to produce these electric vans, ensuring its German employees will retain their jobs when the electric shift is complete. With Rivian’s products, the plant should always be busy.

If Mercedes-Benz can help Rivian enter Europe without spending billions on a new plant, the American EV maker can give the German partner a platform for electric pickups and SUVs – one that has received a lot of praise. Mercedes-Benz tried to sell a pickup truck with the X-Class, but the ill-fated product lasted only three years.

As the automakers said, their partnership may bear way more fruits than just the electric vans. With Mercedes-Benz, Rivian also gets closer to the Chinese market: we should not forget that Geely is a relevant Mercedes-Benz shareholder and its partner with the smart brand.
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About the author: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
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Motoring writer since 1998, Gustavo wants to write relevant stories about cars and their shift to a sustainable future.
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