General Motors Co. (GM - Get Report) was reported to have been involved in the deal as one of the investors, but there was no mention of GM in Rivian's announcement. When asked if GM might invest in Rivian going forward, a Rivian spokesperson said the company would not comment on speculation.
Even without GM, the investment marks another step forward taken by Rivian to become a major player in electric vehicles, potentially threatening Tesla Inc. (TSLA - Get Report) . Tesla CEO Elon Musk had noted to investors in 2018 that he would like one of Tesla's next models to be a pickup truck, while Rivian aspires to be the first carmaker in the U.S. consumer market with an electric pickup.
But columnist Anton Wahlman, who covers electric-car companies for TheStreet and is currently short Tesla and long Amazon, said that the Rivian investment was about more than just pickup trucks.
"The investment in Rivian is not necessarily about the specific products that Rivian has shown to date -- a pickup truck and an SUV," Wahlman said. "It is a platform, upon which any kind of vehicle can be built, including a delivery van, sedan or even a sports car. This is similar to essentially every other electric car platform that every automaker under the sun is and has been working on for years."
Wahlman noted that there will be over 200 pure electric cars in the market by 2022, resulting in slim margins for automakers.
For his part, Rivian's founder and CEO R.J. Scaringe noted in a press release that "this investment is an important milestone for Rivian and the shift to sustainable mobility. Beyond simply eliminating compromises that exist around performance, capability and efficiency, we are working to drive innovation across the entire customer experience."
Scaringe added, "we are excited to have Amazon with us on our journey to create products, technology and experiences that reset expectations of what is possible."
Amazon's Worldwide Consumer CEO Jeff Wilke said in the release that "we're inspired by Rivian's vision for the future of electric transportation."
Amazon shares were falling 0.80% to $1,609.64 on Friday morning, while Tesla was up 1.10% to $306.75.