The reported investment automaker General Motors and online giant Amazon made in an electric pickup truck major could yield two very different payouts for such different companies, say two auto industry analysts.
Neither Amazon nor General Motors commented on reports on Tuesday that each company had taken a stake in the Michigan-based startup that wants to be the first automaker to bring an electric pickup to market. GM and Amazon each may have its own unique uses for Rivian's electric platform. Their investments together would value the company between $1 billion to $2 billion, Reuters reported.
Investing in Rivian Automotive's planned electric pickup could help GM rapidly bring an electric powertrain into its top-selling and profitable pickup truck line, giving the automaker a better chance at selling an electric vehicle that can lure buyers and yield profits, said Edmund's analyst Jessica Caldwell.
Pickup trucks are one of the most successful types of vehicles in the market right now. Sales are growing and transaction prices are typically higher than those of cars and rising. In January, average pickup truck transaction prices were just below $50,000, Caldwell said.
"That's a lot of money," she said. "So I think companies think there could be margins. We've seen electric vehicles not take off on the small vehicle side, so maybe the solution is something bigger, something we know that people will pay a lot more for."
Meanwhile Amazon could use the company's platform for its extensive logistics needs, said Michelle Krebs, an analyst for Autotrader, an online marketplace for vehicles.
"We know that Amazon wants to reinvent its delivery system," she said.
Pickup trucks are not a typical vehicle used for deliveries — cargo vans or heavier trucks are far more common. But underpinning the Rivian truck is a kind of "skateboard" platform that can carry a variety of different body shapes, she said.
"They could put any kind of body type on it," Krebs said. "So it could be a van, a sport utility vehicle. They've talk ed about that. So it has a lot more flexibility in terms of body style."