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Rivian EV plant aims to ramp up production, with 5,000 workers, 83,000 orders and a few missing parts

Robert Channick, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Automotive News

“The biggest part of coming to work for Rivian is that we’re trying to figure out that process every day, trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t work,” she said. “It’s been a little different working for a startup company.”

Decked out in a blue Rivian button-down shirt, gray baseball cap and signature black-frame glasses, Scaringe led a golf cart caravan through the complex production operation. One of the first stops was the massive stamping equipment, a holdover from the previous tenant at the heart of the manufacturing process.

“The stamping presses were going to get disassembled,” Scaringe said. “We were lucky we’re able to reuse the stamping.”

The R1T pickup, which launched production in September, was the dominant species on the plant tour, spotted in various stages of assembly, along with EDV 700 and EDV 500 Amazon delivery vans. Sightings of the R1S pickup, which began production in December, were somewhat rare.

The tour wrapped up with a meal at the vehicle delivery center prepared on a $6,750 slide-out camp kitchen accessory hooked up to an R1T, and a test drive on the adjacent on-road/off-road track.

 

The Rivian R1T was named the MotorTrend Truck of the Year for 2022, which reviewers called “the most remarkable pickup truck” they had ever driven. A run on the Rivian test track showed it equally adept at rock climbing, traversing a creek bed or accelerating with such G-forces it required a signed waiver to take the wheel.

Watching his EV truck surmount a steep hill from a couch in the delivery center — a stand-alone building where only a trickle of customers have been able to pick up their new vehicles — Scaringe reflected on the road ahead.

“We’ve had really hard times at Rivian since I started the company. This is a hard time, but this is not the hardest of the times,” Scaringe said. “We have to ramp. It’s a short-term push, it’s going to be painful, we have a lot of people making a lot of noise about it, keep our heads down and focus.”

©2022 Chicago Tribune. Visit at chicagotribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
 

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