The planned Lincoln luxury EV is dead.
In a shock to the press, Ford and promising electric vehicle startup Rivian are pressing the pause button on a cooperative endeavor to produce a new battery-electric vehicle for Ford's Lincoln luxury brand. The premium crossover was to be built on Rivian's flexible EV "skateboard" platform, after Ford committed a hefty sum to help keep Rivian in business as the startup readies its Normal, Illinois assembly plant for production early next year.
The decision to pull the plug on the vehicle program was made this month as the global novel coronavirus pandemic continues to create obstacles for automakers' day-to-day operations and call future EV demand into question. Earlier this year, the consultancy firm WoodMac projected an EV sales slump of more than 40 percent worldwide in 2020 as Covid-19 slows economic activity to a crawl.
Lincoln informed its dealer network of the decision on Tuesday, Automotive News reports, although company officials noted that Lincoln still plans to offer a pure-electric vehicle eventually - possibly one developed with Rivian. The vehicle would have been in a different vein from Rivian's forthcoming R1S electric utility vehicle, although both would have shared the same skateboard EV architecture, which Rivian plans to license to other automakers in the future.
Ford's other big anticipated EV, the Ford Mustang Mach-E, is unlikely to be affected much by the global pandemic. The Mustang-inspired electric crossover has garnered a lot of attention since its official unveiling late last year, and racked up scores of preorders.
But nothing is certain, and as Automotive News notes, while several vehicle programs at various manufacturers have been delayed due to the novel coronavirus, this might be the first definitive cancellation attributable to the pandemic.
Last month, Ford CEO Jim Hackett acknowledged that the current environment has "had an effect" on the company's plans, but saying that, ultimately, it wouldn't significantly impact the company's planned product launches, other than by delaying some programs.