Rivian Automotive, founded more than a decade ago by an MIT grad who envisioned supplying America’s insatiable appetite for trucks with electric models, was once expected to take on Elon Musk’s Tesla. But the Irvine, California, based company has hemorrhaged money – and market capitalization – since going public last November. The announcement was rare good news for Rivian, which is backed by investors including a Saudi billionaire, Amazon, BlackRock, Vanguard and Ford.
“The Georgia plant is expected to operate at a capacity of 400,000 vehicles per year. The plant will produce Rivian’s R2 vehicle, a smaller and lower-cost addition to our product lineup, as well as other future product lines,” a Rivian spokesperson told Newsweek.
How Rivian’s CEO became the anti-Elon https://t.co/DaGb1IxG9O
— PJ’s Glass Replacement (@pjsgReplacement) May 5, 2022
Rivian was founded in 2009 by R.J. Scaringe, who bought a shuttered Mitsubishi plant and announced plans to make electric coupes. Two years later, Scaringe switched to trucks, generating a buzz and leading other automakers to follow suit. The company was a darling of the tech world when it launched an initial public offering last November. But since then, despite its ballyhooed rollout of the 2022 R1T electric pickup, it has struggled mightily.
Still, Scaringe has fans. A mostly glowing recent profile in Financial Times titled, “How Rivian’s CEO became the anti-Elon,” described the 39-year-old as “tall and athletic,” and resembling “Clark Kent in appearance and manner, down to the boxy eyeglasses and the slicked-back, jet-black hair.”
“He also does the occasional Superman impression, which doesn’t surprise admirers of what he has accomplished since he started Rivian in 2009,” the article fawns.
The first Rivian R1T model, priced at $67,000, came off the assembly line with great fanfare in Rivian’s flagship plant last September. But in March, the company blamed supply chain issues when it said it would only be able to make 25,000 vehicles this year, despite orders for more than three times that number.
Rivian’s stock, which hit a peak of $172 last November following the IPO, is now at just $33 per share. The plunge cost big investors Amazon and Ford billions of dollars and dragged down their own share prices.
Meanwhile, Tesla has announced its “Cybertruck,” which is expected to roll out in 2023.
The Georgia deal includes roughly $800 million in subsidies from the Peach State’s Department of Economic Development and the rest from four counties that will host the plant near Atlanta, Bloomberg reported. Rivian expects to create 7,500 jobs in Georgia over the next five years. The total cost of the plant is estimated at $5 billion.
Local residents have mixed views about the project. A Facebook group called “Our Communities Oppose Rivian Assembly Plant” boasts 3,200 members, and opposes it due to traffic and environmental concerns.