Lincoln to benefit from Ford's partnership with Rivian
Ford is leveraging its R7bn investment in California electric vehicle technology company, Rivian, to help the brand’s ailing luxury division. With the investment in Rivian allowing Ford access to some of the most advanced bakkie/SUV battery platform technology in the world, it makes sense to try and be ahead of the trend and deliver an electric SUV, with traditional branding legacy.
For decades Lincoln was Ford’s luxury division, selling limousines and boulevard cruisers. The market for those vehicles has narrowed to nothing and in 2020 most of Lincoln’s portfolio consists of luxury SUVs.
Of the brand’s 6 current models, four are SUVs (Corsair, Nautilus, Aviator and Navigator). Realising that large SUVs still offer an appealing profit opportunity and charge strong demand from consumers, Ford must keep these vehicles relevant in a future where heavy CO2 counts won’t be feasible.
The solution is to reinvigorate Lincoln with technology from Rivian. Although there are plug-in hybrid versions of the Aviator and Corsair, this is merely an intermediary solution. What Ford envisions is a new all-electric Lincoln, riding on a dedicated battery platform, without any of the packaging and drivetrain integration compromises, which bedevil most hybrids.
According to Ford’s official position, Rivian has been commissioned to build an ‘all-new fully electric vehicle,’ which will obviously be a large SUV. Rivian’s platform is excellently suited to this purpose, as its own double-cab bakkie and SUVs, aren’t small. Ford can be a lot more daring with new electric all-terrain vehicles, under is Lincoln sub-brand, without risking its core bakkie and SUV business, which generates most of the company’s profits.
Building a battery-powered SUV is going to be expensive and there is a price ceiling, for what Ford customers are willing to pay. By the same token, early adopters might be a lot more wiling to pay higher debut technology prices for a Lincoln branded electric vehicle. Rivian’s most notable technical advantage is its huge battery pack, which rates at 180kWh, much bigger than anything currently available from Tesla or Porsche. And these enormous battery packs, are key to achieving the performance and range required, in a heavy luxury SUV.