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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

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

NRA declares bankruptcy, says it will reincorporate in Texas

Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association (NRA) speaks during CPAC in 2016. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The National Rifle Association said Friday it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will seek to reincorporate in Texas, calling New York, where it is currently registered, a "toxic political environment."

The big picture: The move comes just months after New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the NRA, alleging the group committed fraud by diverting roughly $64 million in charitable donations over three years to support reckless spending by its executives.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden: "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution

Joe Biden. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden promised to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase vaccine manufacturing, as he outlined a five-point plan to administer 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations in the first months of his presidency.

Why it matters: With the Center for Disease Control and Prevention warning of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus, Biden is trying to establish how he’ll approach the pandemic differently than President Trump.