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Rivian showcases upcoming new R2, R3 and R3X models at Uptown event

Uptown Normal played host to electric automaker Rivian during a community event on Saturday.

The public got its first in-person look at Rivian’s new midsize R2 SUV. Vice President of Manufacturing Operations Tim Fallon said Rivian will maintain its current production of SUV, truck and commercial van models in Normal, adding R2 production with the help of equipment upgrades and additional employees.

Rivian also teased the new R3 crossover SUV, though where that will be built hasn’t been announced.

“Current plans are we will keep R1T [truck], R1S [SUV], and EDV [van] production and we’ll add R2 production. Along with that, we are currently projecting as we finalize our plans that there will be additional team members needed,” Fallon said at the event.

Fallon emphasized the price as an important priority in development of the R2 that is about 15 inches shorter than the R1 SUV, and lower in height, too. The range is over 300 miles on a single charge, and it goes from zero to 60 in 3 seconds. It seats five people, and all seats can fold down to fit cargo or to do some car camping.

The starting point of $45,000 represents a significant decrease from its predecessors that cost $70,000 or more.

Joe Blackburn, who has an R2 on reserve and drove from Maryland to attend the event, thinks the greater affordability is attracting positive attention.

“I think that it’s fantastic,” he said of the R2’s price. “That’s another reason I came to look at their vehicles. Starting at a $45,000 starting point, that’s why we have such a large crowd here today — 'cause I think that’s what America’s looking for. We need to get Americans to have a good medium price.”

Rivian Vice President of Manufacturing Operations Tim Fallon speaks at a public outreach event
Emily Bollinger
Tim Fallon, Rivian vice president of manufacturing operations, talks to a WGLT reporter at Saturday's event.

The event did indeed draw strong attendance, with about 3,000 people signing up beforehand and many more registering on site. Members of local government were among those on hand, including Normal Mayor Chris Koos, Bloomington Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe, city and town council members, and state Rep. Sharon Chung, D-Bloomington.

Koos said improving charging infrastructure and good communication with local governments continue to work in Rivian’s favor. Though the increase in employee numbers has potential to exacerbate the ongoing Twin City housing shortage, he said the long-term result will be a beneficial one.

“Currently, we’re dealing with the housing issue, and it takes a little bit of time when you go from no demand to increased, high, demand," said Koos. "But we’ll catch up to it. Automotive manufacturing draws employees from a region, not just the a local community. So it’s going to benefit the entire region.”

The plant updates needed to support production are ongoing, and Rivian plans to start delivering R2s in the first half of 2026.

Previously, Rivian said it's planning to make 57,000 vehicles this year — the same as last. With the R2 coming here, Rivian says total capacity in Normal will jump to 215,000 vehicles.

Colin Hardman is a correspondent at WGLT. He joined the station in 2022.