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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.

Rivian Files For Plant Expansion

a map of the Rivian plant and area
Rivian filing with the Town of Normal
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The red bordered area on the left of the map shows the designated Rivian expansion.

The electric automaker Rivian is preparing for the possibility of adding up to 10.6 million square feet of new space at its plant in Normal.

In zoning map amendment and site plan documents filed with the Town of Normal, the addition would go on the west side of Rivian Motorway, across the road from the current plant.

The expansion also could include 1.5 million square feet for logistics and parking. Another smaller addition would go on land to the north of the current plant and include a 650,000-square-foot building. The existing plant footprint encompasses about 17 million square feet and the current plant itself is 3.2 million square feet.

The new 380-acre parcel is currently zoned agricultural and would be reclassified as manufacturing. Current facilities are on a 503-acre parcel.

The filing is for the maximum allowable use on that plot so Rivian does not have to revisit the planning commission for additional permissions. The company said it does not currently plan to add that much.

Plant Communications Director Zach Dietmeier said any manufacturing expansion would likely be in the 1-2 million square foot range.

It is the second round of site amendments through the planning commission. The first was last summer with expansion in the body shop, battery area, and logistics. Dietmeier said the filing will give Rivian options.

“We realized over the last year we were going to need to significantly increase what those options were for output on site. We will be building additional outbuildings as well for such things as customer experience on site as well as for future space on site for community interactions including, but not limited to future tour experiences. Not all of it will be tied to the manufacturing side, but it’s a significant increase that helps with our capacity down the road,” said Dietmeier.

There would be new test track, vehicle pickup and delivery areas, logistics, and some on-site training facilities.

Dietmeier said the timeline for construction is not set, but likely will be in the next few years. He said planning will become firm in the next 12-18 months.

“It will follow very quickly and likely be as truncated as possible with those timelines to make sure our capacity is meeting the demand we have seen increasing since 2018,” said Dietmeier.

Dietmeier also did not have firm cost figures. He said they are still calculating costs.

“Though it will likely move faster than the initial plant improvements because the company does not have to deal with an existing brownfield site as it did with the original plant,” said Dietmeier “It really does play into allowing us to think more deeply about our site’s evolution over the next few years."

Rivian’s current investment in the plant is $1.2 billion, said Dietmeier.

“We are extremely grateful for the leadership at the town; Mayor (Chris) Koos and the city council and the support from the beginning. Our growth would definitely not be possible without the local community’s belief in and really contribution to our vision as that has grown,” said Dietmeier.

The Normal Planning Commission could take up the proposal as early as next month.

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