Home & Leisure

Rivian hosts R2 open house in Normal, its new production home

Robert Channick, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Automotive News

NORMAL, Illinois — Nearly five years after unveiling its prototype electric pickup truck and SUV for a Normal community looking to restart its idled auto plant, Rivian was back in the town circle Saturday with its second-generation EVs, and the promise of more activity at the now-bustling factory.

The low-key but festive event showcased the midsize R2 SUV, which will be built in Normal after Rivian delayed plans for a second plant in Georgia. The smaller and sportier R3 crossover, whose production plans have yet to be announced, was also on display.

Rivian revealed both new models last month, while springing the news that the R2, at least initially, will be made in Illinois. The company received more than 68,000 preorders for the $45,000 R2 within 24 hours of its online debut.

“It not only allows us to save a lot of capital, it allows us to launch the vehicle sooner,” said Rivian CEO and founder R.J. Scaringe at Saturday’s event. “And based on the reaction to the product, it’s important we launch this as quickly as possible.”

Hundreds of people arrived Saturday on a cool but sunny spring morning, where proptypes of the R2, R3 and R3X were parked under a tent and swarmed by a tire-kicking, photo-snapping crowd of EV enthusiasts and Rivian boosters, of which there are many in Normal.

Rivian builds its inaugural full-size electric R1T pickup truck, R1S SUV and commercial delivery vans for Amazon and AT&T in a renovated 4 million-square-foot auto plant on the outskirts of the college town about 130 miles south of Chicago.


The plant employs 7,000 assembly workers, up from zero after Mitsubishi closed the factory nearly a decade ago.

Scaringe purchased the shuttered factory for $16 million from a liquidation firm in January 2017. Boosted by more than $1 billion in investment and expansion, the plant has built more than 100,000 EVs since restarting production in 2021.

Rivian is expected to save more than $2.25 billion in capital expense by launching production of the R2 alongside the rest of its lineup in Normal and putting plans to build the $5 billion Georgia plant on hold, Scaringe said.

“There’s also advantages just in terms of having the teams and the processes and the systems that are now really starting to work well in our Normal facility and leveraging those to launch R2,” said Scaringe.


swipe to next page

©2024 Chicago Tribune. Visit at Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


blog comments powered by Disqus