Rivian pauses JV plans with Mercedes-Benz to make electric vans in Europe

Dec 12 (Reuters) - Rivian Automotive Inc (RIVN.O) said on Monday it is pausing its joint venture with Mercedes-Benz Vans, just three months after the companies entered a partnership to make electric vans in Europe.

The electric vehicle maker said it will focus on its consumer and existing commercial business as it tries to become cash flow positive in its U.S. operations.

"The pausing of this partnership reflects our process of continually evaluating our major capital projects, while taking into consideration our current and anticipated economic conditions," Rivian Chief Financial Officer Claire McDonough said in a statement.

Rivian is in a crowded field of startups trying to cash in on demand for electric commercial vans under pressure from established automakers including Ford (F.N) and General Motors (GM.N).

In September, Mercedes-Benz Vans and Rivian signed a memorandum of understanding to produce electric vans in a factory in Poland, Hungary or Romania within the next few years, under the 50-50 joint venture.

Rivian's commercial business includes the automaker's RCV platform that underpins the Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) van that Rivian is building in Illinois. The company has a contract to supply 100,000 electric delivery vans to Amazon, its biggest investor.

The plan for Mercedes-Benz Vans' new electric vehicle manufacturing site in Jawor, Poland is not affected and the pace of its electrification strategy remains unchanged, Mathias Geisen, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans, said.

Like other EV makers, supply-chain disruptions have also pressured Rivian, forcing the company earlier this year to cut its production forecast by half to 25,000 vehicles.

Reporting by Maria Ponnezhath in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich

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