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Rivian Plans To Build 2nd U.S. Assembly Plant

Rivian plant exterior
Emily Bollinger
Rivian bought the former Mitsubishi Motors plant in 2017 for $16 million—a relative bargain.

Rivian plans to build a second U.S. assembly plant, although the electric automaker said Thursday that project is an “addition … not a replacement” to its Normal manufacturing facility.

Rivian has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to overhaul the Normal plant, which is bought after Mitsubishi moved out. Rivian already has over 2,100 employees in Normal—rapidly becoming one of McLean County’s Top 5 employers—with plans to reach 3,000 to 4,000 workers by the end of 2022.

But the company apparently needs more room to grow. Reuters first reported plans for a second U.S. assembly plant earlier Thursday. Multiple U.S. states have bid for the second plant that will break ground early next year and include battery cell production, according to Reuters.

WGLT asked Rivian for comment on the report:

“We continue to work with the Town of Normal and other regional partners on future local expansion plans. Our second manufacturing project is in addition to our plans in Central Illinois – not a replacement,” said Rivian spokesperson Zach Dietmeier. “Normal is a launching pad for Rivian’s strategy and development for decades to come.”

Indeed, Rivian has added about 800,000 square feet to the Normal plant since it bought the place from a salvager. It also has plans to expand onto a 380-acre parcel of land on the west side of Rivian Motorway, across the road from the existing plant. Dietmeier recently told town officials Rivian has preliminary plans to use the land for light manufacturing along with logistics and warehousing. Normal’s mayor says he’s heard about a possible test drive or off-road course near the plant.

Rivian’s first EVs, which have been twice delayed by the pandemic, will be delivered to customers in September. It’s also making thousands of electric delivery vans for Amazon, also an investor.

The move is not entirely unexpected. Bloomberg reported in February that Rivian was scouting locations in Europe to build a new factory.

And Tesla—the pioneering company that casts a long shadow over the EV business—has multiple production facilities. Its original plant is in Fremont, Calif. It’s now building another in Texas.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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