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WGLT, an NPR station in central Illinois, is following every move at the Rivian manufacturing plant in Normal, Illinois. The electric vehicle startup has gone from stealth mode to big-time player in the auto world, attracting attention (and big money) from companies like Ford and Amazon.

$750 Million: Rivian's Investment At Normal Manufacturing Plant

Rivian plant exterior
Ryan Denham
Rivian bought the former Mitsubishi Motors plant in 2017 for $16 million—a relative bargain. ";

Rivian watchers have known for over three years that the electric automaker planned to invest a lot of money into its Normal manufacturing plant. Now we know how much: $750 million.

That number was first reported this week by Forbes. A Rivian spokesperson confirmed the $750 million figure to WGLT on Thursday. The company had not disclosed that number previously.

While a nine-figure investment is big, it’s actually less than what others have dumped into manufacturing plants to prepare for electrification. General Motors and its partner LG Chem said in December they’d be investing $2.3 billion in a new EV battery plant in Ohio. More recently, GM announced it was investing another $2.2 billion into a Detroit plant to build electric Hummers.

Rivian itself has landed billions of dollars in investments from Amazon, Ford, funds managed by T. Rowe Price and BlackRock, among other firms.

Rivian bought the former Mitsubishi Motors plant in 2017 for $16 million—a relative bargain. Initially Rivian sent a team to tour the shuttered plant in hopes of buying and relocating some of the equipment inside. But after seeing the good condition of the plant, that team recommended to Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe that they consider buying the entire facility instead.

“Within a few days, I was able to come out, and I saw not only an amazing facility, but I got a flavor for, a taste for, the level of enthusiasm that exists here in the community,” Scaringe said during a recent event in Uptown Normal. “And having visited a lot of plants around the country, I saw something that was really unique.”

Rivian’s $750 million investment includes construction and equipment—completed, underway, or planned. WGLT first reported over $24 million in work was started or finished in 2019, according to permits filed with the Town of Normal. Rivian has already sparked additional investment from suppliers, including a Michigan company that will make assembly line robotic systems.

Rivian secured millions in local and state tax breaks when it bought the 2.6 million-square-foot plant in Normal. In addition to meeting certain hiring thresholds, Rivian also must invest specific amounts of money to receive its full incentives. To get its $1 million grant from the Town of Normal, it must invest $20 million in “project expenses” within five years. To get its property tax breaks, it must invest incrementally more project expenses each year, topping out at $40.5 million by December 2021.

To receive its full property tax break for 2019, Rivian must prove it invested $22 million in the plant and have 75 full-time employees in Normal, according to its agreement with taxing bodies. The company appeared on pace to meet those requirements. 

Rivian already has around 250 employees in Normal. The company plans to begin making its electric vehicles in late 2020, with most pre-order customers taking delivery in 2021.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.