Rivian Confirms It Wants to Build a Second Plant, Possibly For Cheaper EVs

Rivian recently postponed – again – the deliveries of its first vehicles, the R1T and the R1S. Despite that, the EV startup is already looking for a location to establish its second plant. Currently, Rivian plans to produce the electric pickup truck and its SUV in Normal, Illinois, in a plant that once belonged to Mitsubishi.
Rivian Normal Facitily, Illinois 12 photos
Photo: Rivian
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The new manufacturing site is codenamed Project Tera in the official documents Reuters obtained to break the news. It would need at least 2,000 acres of area and would include a battery plant able to deliver 50 GWh per year.

Reuters estimated the investment necessary to build this factory, and it amounts to around $3 billion. The car plant demands around $1 billion, while a cell manufacturing site costs at least $2 billion. That’s quite a large amount of cash for a company that is yet to deliver a single vehicle – if you didn’t count the ones that picked Jeff Bezos when he returned to Earth.

Rivian confirmed it is searching for a new place to make its cars but did not provide further details. Reuters did: the project will be officially announced in September and should break ground early in 2022. Considering how much it takes for a factory to start operating, we should expect it to produce its first vehicles by 2024. That’s more than enough time for Rivian to develop a cheaper car than the R1T and the R1S.

Affordable EVs would be necessary for Rivian to reach its annual production target. According to Bloomberg, the company planned to manufacture 300,000 vehicles per year. Before Rivian bought the Normal plant, Mitsubishi could produce 120,000 cars there in the same period.

The R1T and R1S are expensive vehicles, with the R1T starting at $67,500. As popular as they may be, they are not enough for Rivian to reach higher production volumes. If the company planned to sell only these two and the Amazon delivery van, Normal would be more than enough.

That leaves the new factory with a production of 180,000 vehicles per year. If Rivian managed to expand its production capacity in Normal to 150,000 units, it would still be just half of the 300,000 EVs it said it planned to produce per year. In other words, expect Rivian to present more affordable cars. A Ford Bronco competitor would be very fitting with the company’s adventure profile.
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About the author: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
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Motoring writer since 1998, Gustavo wants to write relevant stories about cars and their shift to a sustainable future.
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