Against Tesla with its Cybertruck and all legacy automakers vying to get into the electric truck space, Rivian has been the name to watch. Ever since making a splash with its R1T pickup and R1S SUV, the decade-old startup planned to kick off production at its repurposed Normal, Illnois plant — formerly owned by Mitsubishi — in late 2020.
Now, according to a report by the Chicago Tribune, that has all changed, and the company has delayed the launch into 2021 amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The plant’s temporary shutdown — a theme seen across the whole industry this past month — has all but halted plans to retool the plant. “There are 11 Rivian employees there in 2.6 million square feet,” company spokeswoman Amy Mast told the Tribune. She said there are also roughly 60 contractors completing electrical work in the building. However, in light of the circumstances work clearly cannot go on as originally scheduled. “It will be 2021,” she said of the R1T’s launch date.
That decision is not surprising, but any delay will put more pressure on the fledgling automaker to deliver. Last year, the company drew in nearly $3 billion in investments from Amazon, Ford and Cox Automotive, among others. Beyond their own product launches, the company has an order to build 100,000 vans for Amazon, as well as building vehicles for Ford. As the plant grinds to a halt, so too does its ability to deliver on those arrangements as Rivian originally planned.
Employees are still being paid through the shutdown
Another concern stemming from shutdowns across the industry is the fate of the workers. For its part, Mast did say Rivian employees, both hourly and salaried, are being paid in full while the plant is idle.
Earlier this month, Rivian sent out an email to prospective customers. In it, they explained the shutdown would cause “some level of delay”. Again, that’s a theme across the entire industry, but the company did say it would minimize how long it pushes off the R1T’s launch.
On April 1, the company posted a progress update to YouTube.