NORMAL — Electric vehicle startup Rivian Automotive intends to build a second U.S. assembly plant, the latest sign that the company is gaining legitimacy as an American automaker.
Headquartered in Irvine, California, and backed by auto giant Ford, as well as T. Rowe Price and Amazon.com Inc., the electric vehicle manufacturer has dropped hundreds of millions of dollars on building out a sprawling campus in Normal.
Rivian spent $16 million in 2017 on the 2.6 million-square-foot former Mitsubishi plant, and has added another 800,000 square feet to it since then. The company is leasing about 500,000 square feet at North Main Street and Kerrick Road. In April, it acquired 380 acres near the factory for future expansions.
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Still, the company is eying more production space, according to a Thursday report from Reuters. Multiple states have bid for the second plant, which requires an estimated 2,000 acres of land, Reuters reported.
The project — reportedly including battery cell production — will break ground in the fall, according to Reuters.
Rivian spokesperson Zach Dietmeier in an email confirmed the plans to The Pantagraph and characterized the Normal plant as a "launching pad and a cornerstone for Rivian’s strategy and development for decades to come."
"We continue to work with the Town of Normal and other regional partners on future local expansion plans," Dietmeier said. "Our second manufacturing project is in addition to our plans in Central Illinois; there is no replacement or reduction for our Normal campus."
Dietmeier did not mention where the second plant would be or how many people it might employ.
The existing Normal plant employs 2,232 full-time employees, part of the more than 7,000 people Rivian employs across facilities in California, Michigan, Arizona, the United Kingdom and British Columbia.
News of a pending second assembly plant comes after the electric vehicle company said last week the launch of its flagship pickup truck set for this summer was pushed to September because of mass disruptions in global supply chains caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
It is the second time the electric vehicle company has pushed back shipments of the R1T, originally slated to hit the roads in June.
In addition to supply setbacks, Rivian has faced legal troubles.
A group of Illinois vehicle dealers and trade associations sued the company in Cook County Circuit Court this spring, arguing that its model of selling vehicles directly to customers violates a state law requiring franchised dealers to see new vehicles.
The Normal plant has two production lines currently producing vehicles, one to manufacture both the R1T pickup and R1S SUV, and a second line for its commercial vans. Amazon has ordered 100,000 vans through 2024.
Special launch editions of the pickup and SUV are priced at $73,000 and at $75,500, respectively. The standard 2022 truck prices start at $67,500, while the standard SUV prices start at $70,000.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story misstated the prices for the Rivian R1T and R1S launch editions and base models. This story features the correct prices.
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Contact Timothy Eggert at (309) 820-3276. Follow him on Twitter: @TimothyMEggert