EV startup Rivian buys old Mitsubishi plant in Normal, Illinois

Detroit-based start-up may start making EVs by 2019.

Tesla Motors notably started its electric-vehicle production out of a Northern California factory that was previously operated by a partnership between General Motors and Toyota. Now, another electric-vehicle startup is following a similar game plan by acquiring a factory that was co-developed by Mitsubishi and Chrysler. Will this be deja vu all over again?

Rivian Automotive has acquired a 2.4-million-square-foot factory in Normal, Illinois (about 130 miles southwest of Chicago), Teslarati says. The Detroit-based company plans to start making cars there in 2019 and will sink more than $40 million into the plant by 2022. The automaker will receive a $1 million grant and a five-year tax abatement from local governments, but the catch is that Rivian must invest $175 million in the factory and hire 1,000 people there by 2024.

Mitsubishi and Chrysler built out the 500-acre site in 1988, and the factory has the capacity to produce about a quarter-million vehicles a year. Mitsubishi shut down the factory last year.

Rivian Automotive was founded as Mainstream Motors in 2009, subsequently became Avera Automotive, and then Rivian Automotive in 2011. The company moved its base to Detroit from Florida in 2015.

Tesla operates what was previously the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI) factory in Fremont, Calif., about 40 miles southeast of San Francisco. Tesla, which is building out its Gigafactory in Nevada, also may double the size of the Fremont plant as it ramps up production of its Model 3. At its 1979 peak, the old NUMMI factory employed more than 6,800 people. Tesla, which employs about 6,200 people at the plant, may boost that workforce total to as many as 9,300.

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