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Rivian and VW join up to design vehicle software

CNN  —  Rivian and Volkswagen Group are forming a joint venture to create vehicle software, the two companies announced Tuesday. VW will invest a total of $5 billion into electric vehicle maker Rivian as part of the arrangement, including a $1 billion immediate investment. The two automakers did not provide a name for the new joint venture company or name its leadership team. Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe said during a conference call that it would have two co-leaders, each reporting to one of the automakers. “The way the joint venture has been configured as it’s a 50/50 joint venture that’s designed with two co-CEOs that report effectively in to both businesses,” said Scaringe. VW’s investments will provide capital to help Rivian scale up its manufacturing as it looks toward building a new factory in the state of Georgia, Scaringe said. “This is important for us financially,” he said, “and one of the elements here is that it’s also implicit Rivian’s successes is important for Volkswagen Group’s success.” Both companies said they plan to launch new vehicles utilizing the joint venture’s technologies before 2030. Rivian’s fundamental vehicle software design is expected to provide the basis for the new company’s software. The technologies designed by the company will include both the user-interface software that runs things like the entertainment system and gauges and deeper vehicle software that interacts with things like the vehicle’s motors. Rivian will also contribute the electric hardware designs on which these systems will run, according to a joint announcement. VW already has its own vehicle software subsidiary, Cariad, and that company will continue with its work, VW chief executive Oliver Blume said on a conference call. The new joint venture’s work will be in addition to Cariad’s and not in place of it, he said The companies could also cooperate on vehicles, themselves one day, Scaringe said during the call, but that’s not part of what’s envisioned currently. For now, the companies will just work together on vehicle software and computer systems. The idea for the joint venture first arose when Scaringe and Blume were talking at Porsche’s Experience Center in Atlanta where Porsche owners and enthusiasts can drive Porsche cars and SUVs on a test track. “So, we had a lot of fun just talking about how aligned we both saw (cars),” Scaringe said. “But, quickly, that led to a serious conversation as to how can we look at working together.” In addition to being CEO of Volkswagen Group as a whole, Blume is also CEO of Porsche. Scaringe said he, himself, is a longtime Porsche enthusiast and, when he was S to restore classic Porsche sports cars.