CARS

Rivian Automotive plans to start EV production at ex-Mitsu plant by 2020

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The Rivian plant in Normal, Ill.

Rivian Automotive Inc., backed by a new $200 million loan, said it will begin producing electric vehicles at the former Mitsubishi Motors plant in Normal, Ill., by 2020, the company said last week.

The funding — in addition to previous financing and state and local tax incentives — will help the metro Detroit-based startup in its quest to enter the growing market for electrified and autonomous vehicles, a space occupied by large incumbent automakers and other ambitious startups.

The company aims to produce a fully electric five-passenger pickup and a seven-passenger SUV at the plant, despite having not yet released any designs. The pickup is expected to go 400 miles between charges, offer some self-driving capabilities and cost no less than $50,000, but will not be released before 2020, Crain’s Chicago Business reported.

Rivian, founded in 2009, currently employs 50 people┬áin Normal — 350 employees total in its Michigan, California and Illinois locations — and works on electric vehicle development, vehicle design and engineering operations. The plant could employ 1,000 by 2024.

The company and its CEO, RJ Scaringe, have remained relatively quiet to the public, with a vague social media and website presence and few press releases. With the new production announcement, however, the company may be emerging from stealth mode.

“Our launch vehicles have completed substantial development and are undergoing rigorous testing,” Scaringe said in a statement last week. “The additional capital will enable us to ramp up towards production and bring our innovative products to the market in 2020.”

Mitsubishi first opened and operated the Normal plant with Chrysler in 1988. Mitsubishi continued production after buying out Chrysler’s stake in the plant in 1991, but then announced plans to end production at the plant in July 2015. Rivian began discussions about purchasing the closed Mitsubishi plant in 2016. The company then bought the plant for $16 million in January 2017.

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