Mercedes-Benz Vans and Rivian announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to initiate a strategic partnership.

The agreement is related to production of bespoke large battery-electric vans, for both Mercedes-Benz Vans and Rivian, through a new joint venture in Europe.

The start of an all-new joint manufacturing facility for electric vans - "at an existing Mercedes-Benz site in Central/Eastern Europe" - is expected "in a few years."

According to Automotive News, this new undisclosed site might actually be the Mercedes-Benz's plant in Kecskemet, Hungary, which opened in 2012 and is currently engaged in A-, B- and C-Class models.

"Subject to the parties entering into final binding agreements and to obtaining the relevant regulatory clearances, the companies intend to establish a new joint venture manufacturing company with the purpose of investing in, and operating, a factory in Europe to produce large electric vans for both Mercedes-Benz Vans and Rivian, starting in a few years. The target is to build an all-new electric-only production facility leveraging an existing Mercedes-Benz site in Central/Eastern Europe."

According to the press release, Mercedes-Benz Vans and Rivian plan to produce two large van models on common assembly lines:

  • one based on VAN.EA (MB Vans Electric Architecture), the electric-only platform of Mercedes-Benz Vans (scheduled for 2025)
  • one based on the second generation electric van, Rivian Light Van (RLV) platform.

Potentially, there might be other areas for increased synergies from the joint venture, the companies explain.

Rivian currently produces at its sole plant in Illinois the EDV electric vans for Amazon (on top of its flagship R1T pickup and R1S SUV).

Mercedes-Benz Vans, which introduced its first electric van pilot project - the Vito E-CELL in 2010 - has a much wider van lineup, which includes several models:

In 2023, the company intends to launch the next-generation eSprinter based on the Electric Versatility Platform (EVP), while from 2025 on, all mid-size and large vans will be based on the new modular architecture and will be electric-only - VAN.EA (MB Vans Electric Architecture).

RJ Scaringe, Chief Executive Officer of Rivian:

"Rivian was created to encourage the world to transition away from fossil fuel consumption by creating compelling products and services. We're delighted to be partnering with Mercedes-Benz on this project. Mercedes-Benz is one of the world's best known and respected automotive companies, and we believe that together we will produce truly remarkable electric vans which will not only benefit our customers, but the planet."

Mathias Geisen, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans:

"As a pioneer in the field of locally emission-free transportation Mercedes-Benz Vans has gained broad experience in producing and launching eVans since 2010. Now we are accelerating the transformation to a fully electric product portfolio. From 2025 onwards, all vans based on our new architecture VAN.EA will be electric-only.

I am delighted that as part of this transformation we are now joining forces with Rivian - a highly dynamic and inspiring partner with a strong technology position. We are sharing investments and technology because we also share the same strategic ambition: accelerating the electrification of the van market with sustainable and superior products for our customers."

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