Amazon and General Motors are in talks to invest in Tesla rival Rivian

RJ Scaringe, founder and chief executive officer of Rivian Automotive Inc., unveils the R1T electric pickup truck, left, and R1S electric sports utility vehicle (SUV) during a reveal event at AutoMobility LA ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California.
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RJ Scaringe, founder and chief executive officer of Rivian Automotive Inc., unveils the R1T electric pickup truck, left, and R1S electric sports utility vehicle (SUV) during a reveal event at AutoMobility LA ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California.

Amazon and General Motors are in talks to invest in Rivian Automotive LLC in a deal that would value the U.S. electric pickup truck manufacturer at between $1 billion and $2 billion, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

The deal would give Amazon and General Motors minority stakes in Rivian, the sources said. It would be a major boost for the Plymouth, Michigan-based startup, which aspires to be the first car maker to the U.S. consumer market with an electric pickup.

If the negotiations conclude successfully, a deal could be announced as early as this month, the sources said, asking not to be identified because the matter is confidential. There is always a chance that deal talks fall through, the sources cautioned.

"We admire Rivian's contribution to a future of zero emissions and an all-electric future," GM said in an emailed statement, declining to specifically comment on the talks with Rivian.

Amazon and Rivian did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Rivian deal would come as the world's biggest electric car maker, Tesla, struggles to stabilize production and deliver consistent profits as it rolls out its flagship Model 3 sedan.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk told investors last August that an electric pickup is "probably my personal favorite for the next product" from the company, though he has spoken only in general about a potential launch, saying that it would happen "right after" Tesla's Model Y, which the company has targeted to start production in 2020.

Rivian intends to begin selling its R1T, the pickup it debuted in November, in the fall of 2020. The company was founded in 2009 by CEO R.J. Scaringe.

Big automakers, including GM, have not jumped into the market for electric pickups thus far. GM CEO Mary Barra has said the U.S. automaker has given a "tiny bit" of thought to developing all-electric pickups.

Amazon has also invested in self-driving car startup Aurora, in a $530 million funding round announced last week. The worlds largest online retailer has steadily increased its logistics footprint, building warehouses around the world and inking deals with Mercedes as well as cargo airlines to help with delivery.

Rivian's financial backers include Saudi auto distributor Abdul Latif Jameel Co (ALJ), Sumitomo Corp of Americas and Standard Chartered Bank. ALJ has agreed to provide almost $500 million in funding, Sumitomo invested an undisclosed amount, and Standard Chartered provided debt financing of $200 million.