Ford's $500 million investment in Rivian this year could kick off with a new electric vehicle (EV) that would feature the startup's "skateboard" chassis.

The Lincoln Electric SUV that Ford plans to roll out by mid-2022 is going to be the American automaker's first EV. It will take a little page out of Rivian's playbook by using the same platform that the startup is rumored to use for its RS1 in combining the electric motors, batteries, controls, and suspension, according to Reuters.

The report wasn't generous in offering details, other than an internal program code that the new Lincoln carries which is U787. So much of what Ford plans to do is guesswork at this point, with Ford and Rivian declining to provide comments.

EV market news website Electrek speculates that U787 is a plug-in hybrid like the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and Ford's own 2019 Fusion Energi, but with Rivian's skateboard chassis which puts the mass of batteries on the bottom of the car, it might not be likely.

Competition in EV SUVs

The U.S. auto industry is in a tight competition in brining more electric-powered SUVs in the market. Rivian, in its push to start production in 2020, already has $1.9 billion in investments that include an order from Amazon of 100,000 electric delivery vehicles.

Bollinger, a Rivian rival, also makes SUVs but more for off-road purposes. Its design is similar to a Hummer, and its wheels are sourced from the same company that makes them for Hummer.

But when it comes to battery performance, Rivian may have the upper hand as the R1T is reported to be equipped with 180-kW-hr, whereas a max of 100-kW-hr will be available to Bollinger. Rivian also offers subscription payment plans for its R1T and R1S.

Tesla vs. Ford

Ford was challenged on Tuesday by Tesla with its new boxy SUV that it unveiled last week. The futuristic Tesla Cybertruck was strapped to Ford's F-150 in a back to back uphill tug of war, and the outcome of the wild stunt pulled off by Elon Musk's company is the Tesla vehicle outpowering the Ford pickup.

Rivian Investment
A new patent presumably for Rivian R1T could let owners of the upcoming electric pickup truck have easy access to the truck's bed. Getty Images/Phillip Faraone