Rivian Automotive gets cash boost

Rivian has said little about its planned EVs, but is working in California, above, and Michigan.

A boost in funding last week is helping electric-vehicle startup Rivian Automotive move forward with development of a full-electric five-passenger pickup and a seven-passenger SUV that it intends to build in Normal, Ill.

The Detroit venture has not revealed details of its planned product line, nor said publicly how it intends to go to market or whether it will create a franchised dealer network.

But Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe told Automotive News last week that he will unveil vehicles in November at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Scaringe, in an email, provided no specifics for a release date, other than saying 2020.

“Rivian has built a strong foundation around a world-class team, differentiated technology and critical infrastructure,” Scaringe, 35, wrote in the email. “Rivian has a strong backing from its shareholders to support our long-term growth plans.”

Last week, the venture said it has received $ 200 million in debt financing from Standard Chartered Bank, of London. A Rivian statement said the loan brings its financing to $ 450 million, including funds from other investors such as the investment arm of Saudi company Abdul Latif Jameel and Sumitomo Corp. of Americas.

Scaringe: 2020 release target

Rivian, founded in 2009, initially proposed bringing vehicles to market in 2013. The company plans to use the former Mitsubishi Motors Corp. assembly plant in Normal to make electric and self-driving vehicles starting in 2020.

Getting the plant back into production after its 2016 closure is critical to Scaringe’s venture. Rivian acquired the plant from an industrial liquidation firm last year for $ 2 million.

Scaringe said the plant is functional and the funding Rivian has received will be enough to make the necessary changes.

Rivian employs 50 people in Normal and 300 in Michigan and California.

The company will receive $ 49.2 million in tax credits over 15 years from Illinois if the venture meets targets for relaunching the plant, including investment goals and having 1,000 employees by 2024.

Reports about Rivian’s product plans have lacked details.

The first product, an electric pickup, is expected to have a 400-mile range on a full charge, offer some self-driving capabilities and cost $ 50,000 or more.

Rivian’s leadership includes industry veterans. Design chief Jeff Hammoud is a former design head for Jeep and FCA car interiors. Engineering boss Mark Vinnels is a former executive with McLaren and Group Lotus.

Jacquelyn Reineke, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, told Automotive News the employment prospects outlined in an agreement with Rivian spurred the state’s investment.

“Getting a company down there that could tap into the work force pool that was already there, and get them back into good-paying jobs and good careers, was a huge plus for us,” Reineke said.

Amy Babcock, spokeswoman for Sumitomo Corp. of Americas, told Automotive News last week that Sumitomo believes Rivian’s calls for advancement in electric, autonomous and shared personal transportation are promising.

“In the short term, we see SCOA’s investment and network aiding Rivian in enhancing its current platform and helping to establish important partner and supplier relationships,” Babcock said.

“In the long term, we see great potential for collaboration between our new auto tech investments like Rivian, and the existing business networks and companies of our current portfolio.”

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