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Ford invests $500 million into Tesla competitor Rivian

Ford Motor Co. on Wednesday said it will invest $500 million into electric carmaker Rivian, making the up-and-coming Tesla competitor a key part of the $11 billion the Detroit automaker plans to invest into a fleet of its own electric vehicles.

Ford plans on developing a new vehicle with Rivian's "skateboard" platform, the thin base frame of the vehicle that houses its brakes, suspension, cooling systems and battery. The car will be part of an electric car line-up from Ford that already includes a Mustang-inspired crossover and a zero-emissions version of the F-150 pickup.

It's the latest in a series of high-profile investments into electric vehicles, as companies gear up and tackle a space dominated by Tesla. Rivian previously landed $700 million in a funding round led by Amazon in February. Amazon also led a $530 million funding round into self-driving automaker Aurora. Apple, Lyft, Google and Uber are all looking into fleets of self-driving cars. 

"There's a big push by the entire industry to make electric vehicles and there's a lot of competition downstream, so there will be a lot of choices for consumers," Michael Thomas Staiger, research analyst at Odeon Capital Group, recently said.

Ford testing self-driving cars in Miami

Rivian has already developed two fully-electric cars of its own, which impressed investors after their unveiling in a Los Angeles Auto Show last November. The company is planning to launch its R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV in 2020, manufacturing the vehicles in its plant in Normal, Illinoist.

Rivian said that it will remain an independent company. Founded by Robert "RJ" Scaringe in 2009, Rivian has raised about $1.5 billion in funding to date, according to S&P Capital IQ. It raised about $200 million in debt financing last May

For companies like Tesla, that means an increasingly crowded space of companies that want to take top spot in the latest alternative vehicle innovation.