Startup that bought Mitsubishi’s factory is planning to make electric pickup trucks and SUVs

Rivian Automotive has a much lower profile than what we are used to in the EV startup world, but we are starting to learn more about their plans to produce all-electric vehicles in the US and it’s certainly starting to get interesting.

We now learn that they plan to build all-electric pickup trucks and SUVs by 2020.

The startup was founded by CEO RJ Scaringe, a MIT graduate, and it has been in stealth mode since its inception in 2009 up until last year when they took over a shuttered Mitsubishi factory in Normal, Illinois.

At the time, we reported that Rivian Automotive was mysteriously well-funded with plans to invest $175 million and staffed by about 100 employees, several coming from the automotive industry.

They were developing an electric powertrain led by Gary Gloceri, a former Magna electric powertrain chief engineer who led the development of the powertrain for the Ford Focus Electric at the major auto supplier.

Rivian has since updated its website to reveal more about its plans, like that their flexible electric platform will enable the launch of a pickup truck and a SUV.

They described the pickup:

Our launch vehicle reimagines what a pickup can be – it delivers unmatched performance, refinement, storage capacity and off-road capability in a unique all-electric package.

They have also patented a method to create a modular pickup bed and cargo system:

The company lists features like “advanced self-driving, world-class range, superb on and off road, permanent all-wheel drive, 0-60 mph in under four seconds, and more.”

The plan is apparently to build the SUV on the same platform with a third row of seats for 7 people instead of a bed.

Rivian says that it plans to launch the vehicles in 2020.

Electrek’s Take

Rivian is on the top of my list when it comes to EV startups to watch. Like SF Motors and their purchase of AM General’s South Bend, Indiana assembly plant, and unlike Lucid Motors and Faraday Future, Rivian focused on production before unveiling their electric vehicles and drum up demand.

The strategy is encouraging in terms of the seriousness of the venture, but it’s also reminiscent of Tesla buying the NUMMI plant in Fremont back in 2010, but on a smaller scale.

Tesla bought the NUMMI plant from Toyota for $42 million and it is believed to be an important part of the reason why Tesla was able to relatively quickly bring its vehicles to production.

Rivian reportedly bought the shuttered Mitsubishi factory and its contents for only $16 million and even though it’s much smaller than NUMMI, it originally had a capacity for over 200,000 cars per year.

With that in mind and now the fact that they plan to produce pickup trucks and SUVs, which are highly popular in North America, I am starting to become excited to learn more about the new EV startup.

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