Expect Big Things This Year from Illinois EV Maker Rivian

Auto manufacturers are expected to launch dozens of new plug-in electric and hybrid-electric models over the next few years.

More than 100 EV and PHEV models will be available for sale in the United States by 2023, says electric vehicle consultant Jukka Kukkonen. Of those, Kukkonen says he expects more than 70 will be crossovers, SUVs and pickup trucks.

For Illinois, the biggest EV launch to watch in 2021 is from Rivian. The first batch of Rivian’s R1T and R1S trucks and SUVs arrive in June and August. Rivian expects vehicles to start rolling off its new assembly line in Normal, Illinois, starting in June.

“Rivian is an EV maker to watch,” said Kukkonen, chief EV educator for Shift2Electric. “They have the potential to be the Tesla of trucks and SUVs.”

“It is a big deal for Illinois, as they have the potential to introduce many more EV makes and models in the coming years,” says Kukkonen, who attended the automakers’ debut of the R1T and R1S at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2018.

Rivian’s R1T Launch Edition debuts with a price of $75,000, and the R1S Launch Edition is $77,500. A federal tax incentive of $7,500 is available for both models.

Originally set to begin production in 2020 in Mitsubishi’s former plant, Rivian was delayed by COVID-19. The Plymouth, Michigan-based company employs roughly 550 employees in Normal and more than 3,000 overall, including its offices in Michigan and California.

According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, the manufacturing facility in Normal is expected to have about 1,000 workers when production begins. This is a big deal for Illinois. These are the first electric vehicles to be produced here.

Founded 10 years ago, Rivian is well-funded and expected to be a serious player in the emerging EV segment. It has raised about $6 billion from investors.

In addition to the truck and SUV, Rivian is building 100,000 electric delivery vans for Amazon, which are expected to start being deployed sometime this year. Amazon is an investor in Rivian.

According to TechCrunch, Rivian is now building a network of EV charging stations as it prepares for its first deliveries. The network will include fast-chargers located along interstates and at adventurous destinations, such as at national parks, campsites and hiking trails.

Let’s hope we start seeing Rivian vehicles, including those deployed by Amazon, not only as you take your long-awaited vacation in 2021, but also on the roads of the Chicago area this summer.

This year should be just the start of many great years to come for Rivian and for the emissions-reducing benefits that electric vehicles offer.

By Joe Koenig
Chicago Area Clean Cities

Koenig has served as public relations manager for CACC for the past six years. 

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