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Rivian, called the Tesla of trucks, lands another $1.3 billion as it gears up for production at Illinois factory

Ally Marotti, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Automotive News

Rivian, the electric truck manufacturer opening a factory in downstate Normal, is getting another big investment -- $1.3 billion -- with previous investors Amazon and Ford participating in the latest financing round.

The investment, announced Monday, is the fourth of the year and brings the sum raised for the nascent automaker to more than $2.8 billion in 2019.

Often called the Tesla of trucks, the automaker's electric vehicles are set to start rolling off the line at the end of 2020, and it plans to build 100,000 electric vans for Amazon, starting in 2021.

Funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates led the latest round. In addition to Amazon and Ford, funds managed by Ireland-based asset manager BlackRock also participated.

Founder and CEO RJ Scaringe was not made available for comment.

In an interview with the Tribune last week, Scaringe said the company has been relatively quiet about what it's doing in Normal, but that likely will change next year.

"Over the course of 2020, we're going to be opening up and showing what we do inside our production facility," he said. "Seeing the level of investment going into the plant and to see the number of people we're hiring, I think will demonstrate not only how integrated our tech and our platform is with the plant, but what's to come in terms of ... the flexibility the plant provides."

The plant in Normal employs 250 people, many of whom worked at the former Mitsubishi plant until it closed in 2015, and Rivian plans to hire hundreds more next year, Scaringe said.

 

"It's a bit of a construction zone right now. We're making a tremendous amount of changes," he said. "We're taking it from something that was designed to produce small cars on a single line to a plant that can produce multiple electric vehicles."

Rivian has been drawing consumer interest and big-name investors all year. In April, Rivian announced a $500 million investment from Ford, following a $700 million investment round led by Amazon in February. Then came a $350 million investment from Cox Automotive in September.

The Plymouth, Michigan-based company, founded in 2009, unveiled prototypes of its electric pickup truck and SUV models last year. Rivian says the high-end model of its pickup, the R1T, will be able to go from zero to 60 mph in about 3 seconds and travel up to 400 miles on a single charge.

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