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Why Would Apple Consider a Rivian Partnership? CEO Points to Software


Monday, May 13, 2024

Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe offered a surprising amount of detail when asked on a Q1 earnings call about rumors of a potential partnership with Apple.

Though he started with the obligatory "we don't comment on rumors or speculation," he quickly reminded listeners that the company has a "history of partnership," referring to Rivian-built delivery vans for Amazon, which also holds a large stake in Rivian.

But Apple wouldn't want delivery vans, so what's in it for the iPhone maker? Scaringe's comments suggest that a software-focused, autonomous-driving initiative could benefit Cupertino.

In February, Apple reportedly killed plans to build an autonomous electric vehicle, ending a years-long, billion-dollar project. Apple seemed unable to crack autonomous driving despite extensive on-road testing, and steadily downgraded its ambitions before axing it entirely.

Scaringe says Rivian's investment in building and owning all of its vehicle technology, rather than relying on third-party providers, "gives us a lot of customer-facing strength and creates opportunities for partnerships." Rivian's desire for end-to-end control over its systems means that—like Tesla and, soon, General Motors—it does not support Apple CarPlay.

The vertically integrated software stack offers the ideal "learning loop" for autonomous driving technology, Scaringe says.

"We’ve architected our autonomous platforms around controlling the entirety of the data coming in, and then controlling how we use training models to drive progress into the platform," he says. We saw this recently, though on a smaller scale, when Rivian implemented a charging station reliability score based on internal vehicle data.

Tesla Owner Calls Police on Rivian Driver Using Supercharger

Tesla also prides itself on in-house technology. But CEO Elon Musk seems unlikely to partner with another company on his quest to solve self-driving. "We are super excited about our autonomy roadmap," Musk said on Tesla's Q1 earnings call. "If somebody doesn't believe Tesla is going to solve autonomy, I think they should not be an investor in the company."

However, Musk is open to licensing Tesla's self-driving tech to other automakers.

By: DocMemory
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