Rivian Automotive is planning to build a second assembly plant in the USA. This could involve more than just a vehicle plant. A location has not yet been found, but several US states have apparently applied to the company.
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The plans for the second assembly plant after Normal, Illinois, were confirmed in principle by a spokeswoman for the electric car manufacturer to the Reuters news agency, but she did not give any further details. “Although it is early in an evolving process, Rivian is exploring sites for a second US manufacturing facility,” Rivian spokesperson Amy Mast said.
Further information about the planned plant comes from unspecified insiders. According to this, the new plant, which is planned under the name “Project Tera” and for which the site search is currently underway, will not only produce vehicles but also battery cells. An annual capacity of 50 GWh is planned, which will be built up in phases.
According to the plans, about 2,000 hectares of land will be needed. In addition, the goal is to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions as soon as possible – the site would therefore have to enable the supply of renewable energies. Incidentally, the documents do not refer to Rivian, but to Tera throughout – but insiders stated that Tera meant Rivian.
Several US states have applied for the plant, which is to be officially announced in a few months and whose construction is to begin in early 2022. Because of the Corona pandemic, the announcement, which was originally planned for the summer, is to be postponed, according to insiders, and delays in the start of construction are also possible for the same reason.
However, it is emerging that the second plant will be a new building tailored to Rivian. Rivian bought the plant in Normal in 2017, where Mitsubishi had previously produced vehicles for the US market.
Will Samsung SDI also become a Tera battery partner?
The batteries for the first two Rivian models come from Samsung SDI. It has not been confirmed whether the South Korean company will also manufacture the batteries for the 100,000 electric vans that Amazon has ordered from Rivian. According to reports, Rivian uses round cells in the 2170 format – the form factor that Tesla also uses for the Model 3/Y. It is unclear whether Samsung is also involved in the alleged plans for battery cell production for Rivian. When announcing the battery supplier, Rivian had emphasised that it had already cooperated with Samsung throughout the development process.
Rivian recently confirmed its intention to sell its electric vehicles in Europe from the beginning of 2022. Details on this, such as whether only the R1S electric SUV or also the larger R1T electric pickup will be offered in Europe, are not yet known. Previously, Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe had indicated that the first models would be followed by a smaller electric vehicle aimed at China and Europe.
Update 25 July 2021
In addition to settling on the release plans, Rivian closed a financing round of 2.5 billion US dollars. Previous investors Amazon and Ford also participated in the new round. Rivian has thus already generated 10.5 billion US dollars since 2019. In addition to Amazon and Ford, financial investors T. Rowe Price Group, Blackrock, Soros Fund Management, Fidelity Investments and Baron Capital Group came on board in several financing rounds over the past three years.
Only in January of this year, Rivian closed a financing round of 2.65 billion US dollars with several existing and new investors. In addition to Fidelity, T. Rowe Prive and Coatue, the Amazon Climate Pledge Fund, among others, also participated at the time.
“As we approach the start of vehicle production, it is important that we continue to look forward and drive Rivian’s next phase of growth,” Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe commented on the new capital injection. “This infusion of funding from trusted partners will enable Rivian to scale new vehicle programmes, expand our domestic plant footprint and drive international product launches.”
Update 28 July 2021
More details have been published about Rivian’s planned second US plant in an article. Reuters cites a revised document from the company that was submitted to the Arizona Department of Commerce. Previously, Rivian had not named a state or even a specific location, but Arizona is apparently in the running with Mesa (not far from Phoenix).
According to the document, around five billion dollars (4.2 billion euros) will initially be invested in the Rivian plant. Construction is to start in autumn 2021 but could be delayed by up to six months because of the Corona pandemic. Production at the plant is scheduled to start in the second quarter of 2023. The papers also suggest, up to 10,000 jobs were envisaged – however, no timetable was mentioned here, this figure could only be reached in later expansion stages. Reuters also points out that companies like to include indirect jobs at newly established suppliers.
However, there is still uncertainty about the space required. According to the original information, Rivian had estimated 809 hectares (2,000 acres) for ‘Project Tera’. The new document talks about 10,000 acres or 4,046 hectares. Reuters further reports, economic development officials doubt whether such a large vacant site could be found. By comparison, the BMW plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina – which has been the largest BMW plant in the world for several years – comes in at 1,200 acres, or 485 hectares.
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