DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. and Rivian are canceling their plan to jointly develop an electric vehicle for the Lincoln brand due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
Lincoln informed its dealers of the decision on Tuesday. Officials said the brand still planned to have its own EV eventually and could potentially co-develop a product with Rivian in the future but shelved the project because of the "current environment."
Although the pandemic has delayed numerous vehicles currently in development, including the upcoming Ford Bronco Sport crossover, this appears to be the first announcement of a vehicle cancellation in the United States attributed to the crisis.
"Our strategic commitment to Lincoln, Rivian and electrification remains unchanged and Lincoln's future plans will include an all-electric vehicle consistent with its Quiet Flight DNA," Lincoln said in a statement provided to Automotive News. Lincoln said it was still committed to its partnership with Rivian and would continue to work with the EV startup "on an alternative vehicle based on Rivian's skateboard platform."
Ford Motor invested US$500 million in Rivian last year.
The EV developed with Rivian, announced in January, was to be the Lincoln's first battery-electric model. It would have been built on Rivian's flexible skateboard platform, but neither company had provided details on what type of vehicle it would be, where it would be assembled or when it would go on sale.
Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe was quoted as saying the vehicle would have been "in the SUV space" and "very different" from Rivian's own R1S utility.
Lincoln has invested heavily in electrification but until now has mostly focused on plug-in hybrid models of its existing crossovers, including the Aviator and Corsair.
OTHER FORD VEHICLES DELAYED
The Bronco Sport, an Escape-sized off-roader, will start rolling off assembly lines at Ford's Hermosillo, Mexico, plant on Sept. 7, nearly 60 days after the original July 13 target, according to supplier information obtained by Automotive News.
It's unclear how the virus has impacted other vehicles, including the upcoming Bronco SUV, F-150 pickup and Mustang Mach-E crossover.
Ford CEO Jim Hackett, speaking last month on a Detroit radio station, said the virus was not likely to have a significant impact on the launch of some of Ford's biggest models.
"It's had an effect, but it's not going to dampen our spirits about how all these great new things have to come to market," Hackett said. "If they're a month or six weeks late, I don't think anyone would think we fumbled there because of the virus."