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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Rivian planning second American factory – report

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Electric vehicle start-up Rivian has a third factory already in its sights shortly before it begins its first deliveries.

Reuters reports the Amazon-backed start-up is in discussions to build a US$5 billion (A$6.78 billion) factory near Fort Worth, Texas, according to city documents.

News of Rivian’s negotiations for a second US factory follow reports the EV start-up, which counts Amazon and Ford as key investors, will open a plant in the UK.

Codenamed Project Tera and located on a 2000 acre site near the city, the factory would produce around 200,000 vehicles annually plus battery cells, while the minimum average salary would be US$56,000 (A$76,000).

It would also create at least 7500 jobs by 2027.

That last figure is why the Lone Star state has thrown its cowboy hat into the ring, with a location near Mesa, Arizona also being considered.

Rivian has confirmed it was in discussions with multiple locations as part of a competitive process.

It currently has one factory – Mitsubishi’s old plant in Normal, Illinois – which is producing the R1S SUV and R1T ute, US deliveries of which will begin this Spring.

Southern US states are aggressively courting EV manufacturers as they’ve done with legacy car brands, with Reuters reporting the document detailed grants and tax abatements of up to US$440 million (A$597 million).

According to Sky News, the company has been in secret negotiations with the British government about constructing a “giant factory” near Bristol in the UK.

Rivian has earmarked a 616-acre campus, named Gravity, as its preferred UK location.

Interestingly, Tesla was reportedly in talks to acquire this same campus for a potential Gigafactory. It’s currently constructing a new Gigafactory in Germany, set to open by the end of 2021.

The UK factory will reportedly be focused on building Rivian’s electric vehicles rather than building the batteries that power them.

Rivian also plans to launch an initial public offering in New York as soon as this year that would value the company at US$70 billion (A$95 billion).

The company’s biggest customer to date is Amazon, who has placed an order for 100,000 electric vans. Production will begin this year for those orders.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk weighed in with advice, saying, “I’d recommend they get their first plant working. It’s insanely difficult to reach volume production at affordable unit cost.”

His company secured tax rebates worth around US$65 million (A$88.19 million) for a new vehicle and battery factory in Austin, Texas.

Texas, the second largest US state by area, is currently home to only two major car factories: General Motors’ Arlington SUV plant and Toyota’s pickup plant in San Antonio.

Smaller Southern states South Carolina and Alabama have three plants each.

Rivian has yet to announce expansion plans to Australia but has previously expressed interest in bringing its vehicles Down Under.

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