Rivian’s new plant could employ as many as 10,000 workers.
Update 12/16/21: Rivian formally announced the plan with Georgia governor Brian Kemp at the State Capitol Thursday. It will begin construction on the plant next summer.
Over the past several months, EV automaker Rivian has been looking around the US for a new manufacturing plant — and may well decide on a site east of Atlanta, Georgia, near the cities of Covington and Madison.
The Associated Press reports that the Irvine, California based company could build one of the largest manufacturing facilities in the country, to rival BMW’s Spartanburg, South Carolina plant and Ford’s Louisville, Kentucky truck plant, among several others. While officials in Texas, Arizona and Michigan reportedly offered generous incentive packages to draw Rivian to their areas, Georgia could likely move forward as of Thursday’s reports.
Rivian’s announcement would be the largest industrial investment in Georgia’s history. The last major automaker to open large-scale operations in the state was Kia, which built out a 4,400-worker complex at West Point, on the border with Alabama, in 2009. Details remain scarce at this point, but the AP report notes Rivian’s deal could max out the state’s “mega project tax credit”, offering at least $118 million in state income tax credits, to say nothing of other state and local incentives.
The company plans to begin production in 2024, and produce 400,000 vehicles annually.
Rivian just launched its R1T pickup, built at its existing plant in Normal, Illinois. It plans to bring the R1S SUV to customers early next year, and the company needs to fulfill an order from Amazon (which holds a substantial stake in the EV maker) to deliver 100,000 delivery vans over the next few years.
Smart move, or too early for Rivian?
The electric vehicle market is at a “tipping point”, argues the company and its CEO, RJ Scaringe. Making an SUV and truck, the growing automaker — flush with cash from its $11.9 billion stock offering — claims it is in a prime position to seize market share in the industry’s most popular and profitable segments.
Nevertheless, the company has yet to deliver a high volume of R1Ts to customers as of late 2021. “If actual deliveries don’t start picking up, the markets could turn against [Rivian] as they have with some other EV startups not called Tesla,” said Sam Abuelsamid, the principal mobility analyst for Guidehouse Insights. While vehicles are slowly making their way out to customers, making such a major investment without generating some return could jeopardize the company’s status in the market.
At time of writing Thursday, Rivian’s stock actually dropped 5% on this news, as investors eye how the company will move. At the moment, Rivian’s value (market cap) sits around $93 billion, more than Ford or General Motors.