Mercedes-Benz and Rivian Team Up to Build Electric Commercial Vans in Europe

Michael Wayland / CNBC
  • Mercedes-Benz and Rivian are planning a joint venture to build electric commercial vans.
  • The vans will be different designs, but built on the same assembly line.
  • Production is expected to start in "a few years" at an existing Mercedes site in Central or Eastern Europe.

Mercedes-Benz and Rivian said Thursday they are planning a joint venture to build large, electric commercial vans for both brands.

The companies plan to manufacture two different EV vans – one for each automaker – on a shared assembly line, they said. The idea is to reduce costs for both companies by sharing investments, technology and suppliers.

They plan to build a new EV-only production facility at an existing Mercedes-Benz factory site in Central or Eastern Europe, with production starting in "a few years," the two companies said in a statement.

"Mercedes‑Benz Vans has gained broad experience in producing and launching eVans since 2010. Now we are accelerating the transformation to a fully electric product portfolio," said Mathias Geisen, head of Mercedes' commercial van unit. "We are sharing investments and technology [with Rivian] because we also share the same strategic ambition: accelerating the electrification of the van market with sustainable and superior products for our customers."

While Mercedes-Benz has been building commercial vehicles for many years, and electric vans for more than a decade, Rivian is a newcomer to the segment. The California-based EV startup began manufacturing EV delivery vans for Amazon earlier this year, just a few months after it started production of its own upscale electric pickups and SUVs in its Illinois factory.

Although the vans Mercedes and Rivian will ultimately build will likely be similar, they'll be different designs: Mercedes' will be based on its upcoming new EV van architecture, set to debut in 2025; Rivian's on the next-generation version of the light van platform it developed for Amazon.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct that Rivian is based in California.

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