US e-commerce behemoth Amazon has become the latest technology leader to join the self-driving race following its decision to invest $700m in an electric vehicle startup company.
Electric vehicle startup Rivian announced the $700m investment round which was led by Amazon. Details of Amazon’s stake in the US-based EV startup remain undisclosed and the company spokesperson has insisted they will remain independent despite having significant financial support from the tech giants.
The company is being earmarked as a direct rival to Tesla and attracted much fanfare last year when it unveiled its electric sport utility and pickup truck at an automotive show in Los Angeles last year.
The vehicles were to be manufactured at the startup's plant which is located in the industrial belt of Illinois, with deliveries to customers expected to begin late in 2020.
Amazon worldwide consumer boss Jeff Wilke said the investment reiterated its commitment to becoming a leader in providing sustainable future mobility solutions.
He said, “We're inspired by Rivian's vision for the future of electric transportation. We're thrilled to invest in such an innovative company."
Rivian founder and chief executive RJ Scaringe referred to the investment round as an important milestone for the startup on a road to "sustainable mobility."
Rivian has a team of more than 750 people and has established development centers in both the US and England.
In addition to this, it was disclosed that the vehicles use the company's ‘flexible skateboard platform’ and will also be produced at its manufacturing plant in Illinois, according to an official statement released by Rivian.
Amazon earlier this month said it was investing in Aurora Innovation, a self-driving car technology startup founded by former Google, Tesla and Uber executives.
Aurora is developing the technology for autonomous vehicles, but leaving the making of cars to other companies and said in a blog post it wants to work alongside, rather than compete with, leading automakers.
Aurora is led by Chris Urmson, former head of the Google self-driving car initiative.