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Rivian to partner with Mercedes-Benz to build electric vans in Europe

Rivian Mercedes logo
Rivian and Mercedes said they plan to create a new joint venture manufacturing company that will build the new plant somewhere in Europe.

The electric automaker Rivian said Thursday it plans to partner with Mercedes-Benz to make electric vans in Europe.

Rivian and Mercedes said they plan to create a new joint venture manufacturing company that will build the new plant somewhere in Europe. Rivian’s first plant, in Normal, began production last year on consumer EVs and electric delivery vans for Amazon.

“Rivian was created to encourage the world to transition away from fossil fuel consumption by creating compelling products and services,” Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe said in a statement. “We’re delighted to be partnering with Mercedes-Benz on this project. Mercedes-Benz is one of the world’s best known and respected automotive companies, and we believe that together we will produce truly remarkable electric vans which will not only benefit our customers, but the planet.”

A Rivian spokesperson said Thursday's announcement would not impact its plans in Normal.

“We’re committed to growing in place there, expect that both R1 and Amazon vans will be produced there for the foreseeable future, and look forward to operating at capacity,” the spokesperson said.

Rivian and Mercedes said they’ll make two large vans – one of which would be based on Rivian’s light van (RLV) platform. By teaming up, the companies say they’ll “look to leverage shared investments, shared costs and will pursue operational synergies to rapidly scale electric van production.”

“As a pioneer in the field of locally emission-free transportation MercedesBenz Vans has gained broad experience in producing and launching eVans since 2010. Now we are accelerating the transformation to a fully electric product portfolio. From 2025 onwards, all vans based on our new architecture VAN.EA will be electric-only,” said Mathias Geisen, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans. “I am delighted that as part of this transformation we are now joining forces with Rivian – a highly dynamic and inspiring partner with a strong technology position. We are sharing investments and technology because we also share the same strategic ambition: accelerating the electrification of the van market with sustainable and superior products for our customers.”

This is the second major electric-van partnership for Rivian. Its first was with Amazon – an investor, partner, and customer that ordered 100,000 electric delivery vans. Some of those are already on the road. Rivian has long talked about selling vehicles to other fleet customers.

Scaringe has sounded bullish on the fleet business in the wake of the federal Inflation Reduction Act’s passage. The climate measure would create new tax credits for medium- and heavy-duty EVs.

“We see this as really helping drive a rapid transition to electric vehicles in the commercial space,” Scaringe said last month.

Some businesses are even repurposing Rivian’s consumer R1T trucks as work vehicles. That includes central Illinois electrical contractors Masters Bros. and Weber Electric Inc., which have been spotted around Bloomington-Normal with R1Ts.

The Amazon vans are built in Normal, alongside R1 consumer trucks and SUVs. Rivian is also building a new manufacturing plant in Georgia, to make lower-cost R2 vehicles.

Rivian is McLean County’s second-largest employer, with 6,300 workers in Normal.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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