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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Ford's $500 million investment in EV maker Rivian is a stark sign of how legacy automakers are looking outside their walls to find competitive advantages in the emerging market.

The big picture: It's the latest in a wave of corporate partnerships and joint ventures in the auto industry as big players seek their footing, a topic Axios explored here.

Why it matters: The investment and collaboration deal, which comes in addition to Ford's broader $11 billion in EV-related investments planned over the next few years, could be vital to Ford's future, Morgan Stanley analysts said in a note.

  • Ford's reliance on profits from pickup trucks is the "highest dependency on the segment" among automakers, per Morgan Stanley.
  • That makes Ford "particularly exposed to advancements in commercialized EV technology in the segment that could pose an obsolescence risk to Ford’s core franchise," they wrote.
  • The New York Times reports: "Ford is counting on the partnership to accelerate its efforts to field a range of electric cars and trucks, while it also pushes to streamline operations, slash costs and increase profitability."

What's next: In addition to Ford's equity investment, Ford and Rivian plan to develop an all-new EV of some sort (they didn't provide details) using Rivian's "skateboard" platform, which is engineered to accommodate a range of designs.

  • Rivian is already planning to launch 2 EV models next year, a pickup and an SUV, while Ford is also planning new models including an electric version of its popular F-150 pickup.
  • However, per Quartz, Ford won’t use Rivian’s technology for the electric F-150, because that would delay the 2021 launch date.

The bottom line: "In our view, if there were one global OEM who would benefit the most from the advantage of Rivian’s momentum in EVs, it’s Ford," Morgan Stanley analysts said.

Go deeper: This EV startup for adventurers has a two-part strategy for success

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Sports

Robot umpires inch closer to calling MLB games

The Automated Ball-Strike system (ABS), the tech powering what's colloquially known as robo-umps, is inching ever closer to the big leagues.

Driving the news: The independent Atlantic League — which has partnered with MLB since 2019 — last week announced it was doing away with robo-umps after testing them for the past season-and-a-half.

FBI conducts "court-authorized" search of Rep. Henry Cuellar's home

Rep. Henry Cuellar. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The FBI said it conducted a "court-authorized" search on Wednesday in the area of the Texas home of Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas).

State of play: "The FBI was present in the vicinity of Windridge Drive and Estate Drive in Laredo conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity," an FBI spokesperson told Axios, adding that they "cannot provide further comment on an ongoing investigation."

Big Tech lobbies hard against looming antitrust bill

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Big Tech CEOs, including Apple's Tim Cook and Google's Sundar Pichai, have been jawboning lawmakers as a Senate committee takes up a key antitrust bill Thursday.

Why it matters: The bill prompting this lobbying frenzy could upend how tech's giants do business, and tech's critics see this as a "now or never" moment for Congress to check the industry's power.