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Description

Rivian is an American electric vehicle automaker and automotive technology company founded in 2009. Rivian is based in Irvine, California, with its manufacturing plant in Normal, Illinois, and other facilities in Plymouth, Michigan; Palo Alto, California; Carson, California; Vancouver, British Columbia and Woking, England. In 2017, Rivian announced it was building an electric sport utility vehicle (SUV) and pickup truck on a skateboard platform that can support future vehicles or be adapted by other companies. Both vehicles are designed to be semi-autonomous and are designed for both on-road and off-road driving.

History

The company was founded in 2009 by CEO Robert "RJ" Scaringe, who graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a doctorate in mechanical engineering. After being renamed Avera Automotive and then Rivian Automotive, the company began focusing on autonomous electric vehicles in 2011. Rivian received a large investment and grew significantly in 2015, opening research facilities in Michigan and the Bay Area. Relocating headquarters to Livonia, Michigan, to be closer to key suppliers, Rivian began working exclusively on electric autonomous vehicles, specifically building an "entire ecosystem" of related products. It also began gearing its prototypes towards the "ride-sharing and driverless car markets."

It was reported in September 2016 that Rivian was negotiating to buy a manufacturing plant formerly owned by Mitsubishi Motors in Normal, Illinois. In January 2017, Rivian acquired the plant and its manufacturing contents for $16 million, with the plant to become Rivian's primary North American manufacturing facility. Rivian's acquisition of a near production-ready facility instead of building a new factory has been likened to Tesla's acquisition of the NUMMI plant in California. The company received a $1 million grant and a five-year tax abatement from Normal contingent on meeting employment targets and investing $40.5 million over five years. Rivian also received $49.5 million in tax credits from the state government; these credits are also contingent upon meeting employment targets and investing at least $175 million into the site by 2024.

Rivian employed around 100 people at the end of 2016, and that number grew to 160 by August 2017. Sumitomo Corporation made a "strategic investment" in Rivian in December 2017, and Rivian reported that its alpha prototypes were complete and undergoing testing. Also that month, Rivian revealed its first two products: an electric five-passenger pickup truck and an electric seven-passenger SUV, provisionally named the A1T and A1C respectively. With both vehicles unveiled at the LA Auto Show in November 2018, production is scheduled to begin in 2020 with the truck to launch first. Both vehicles were described as ready for rough terrain and semi-autonomous, and the company outlined a plan for its next generation of models to be fully autonomous.

Rivian had 250 employees at the start of 2018. In May 2018, Rivian received $200 million in debt financing from Standard Chartered Bank, bringing total raised funds to upwards of $450 million. Other investors at the time included Abdul Latif Jameel. As of February 2019, Rivian employed 750 people across facilities in Michigan, Illinois, California, and the United Kingdom. Around 50 of those employees were in Normal, putting Rivian ahead of its local job-creation targets.

In February 2019, Amazon announced it would be leading an investment round of $700 million into Rivian. The round included participation from existing shareholders as well. In April 2019, Ford Motor Company invested $500 million. As of June 2019 the company employed over 1,000 people. As a result of the fallout surrounding the 2020 Covid-19 health crisis, Ford terminated the Rivian contract. While the manufacturer will be shifting production to their Lincoln Motors team, they are also maintaining the relationship with Rivian.

In September 2019, Cox Automotive invested $350 million into Rivian, bringing the total raised in 2019 to $1.5 billion. Rivian remains independent, but Cox Automotive plans to add a representative to Rivian's board as part of the investment.

Later that month, Amazon ordered 100,000 electric delivery vans from Rivian, as part of its plan to convert its delivery fleet to 100% renewable energy by 2030. Delivery of the vehicles will begin in 2021. Amazon expects to have 10,000 electric vans in operation by 2022, but is not slated to take delivery of the entire 100,000 Rivian vans the contract calls for until 2030. A 150-mile (240 km) prototype for the Amazon electric delivery van was tested on public roads in early 2021, beginning in Los Angeles, adding Denver by April 2021, with plans to test in 16 US cities in different climate zones. Amazon expects to have 10,000 of the electric delivery vans on the road by the end of 2022.

In November 2020, Rivian employed 3,000+ persons.

Rivian raised capital of US$2.85 billion during 2019, through four major investments, including a US$500 million investment by Ford in April, which "plans to use the Rivian Skateboard for a new battery electric vehicle," and US$1.3 billion investment round led by T Rowe Price announced in December to get the R1T truck and R1S SUV into production by late 2020. In January 2021, Rivian raised $2.65 billion in another investment round led by T Rowe Price.

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