Secretive startup could build EVs in a former Mitsubishi factory

rivian to buy mitsubishi plant news details quotes rivianautomotive 001 blog crp
Jon M. Fletcher
A Michigan-based startup named Rivian is about to move one step closer to becoming a full-fledged automaker. The company’s top executives are involved in talks to buy a former Mitsubishi plant located in Normal, Illinois.

The Normal facility produced the Outlander SUV until the plant was shut down late last year. Liquidation service Maynard Industries purchased the facility from Mitsubishi in order to auction off the machinery inside and tear down the buildings, but the demolition work was put on hold when Rivian expressed last-minute interest in buying it.

Rivian wants to invest $175 million into the Normal factory over the next eight years. It hopes to employ 500 workers by the time the plant re-opens in 2021, and it ultimately wants its workforce to reach 1,000 employees. The factory employed 3,000 workers at its peak when it was run by Mitsubishi, and about 1,200 when it closed a little over a year ago.

A source familiar with Rivian’s plans told Reuters the startup hopes to build electric vehicles equipped with advanced self-driving software. That’s vague at best, but it suggests Rivian wants to join the ever-increasing list of foreign and domestic companies ready to tussle for a slice of the coveted long-range, high-tech EV segment. A press release issued by the state of Illinois simply states Rivian is “developing an integrated portfolio of vehicles and services to advance the shift to sustainable mobility.”

It’s difficult to tell precisely what Rivian has in store for the future. The secretive brand was founded in 2009 by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduate R.J. Scaringe but it’s never shown a car or even a concept, though some key people close to the deal recently drove a prototype. It employs about 100 people, including a former General Motors and Ford designer named Larry Erickson and former Chrysler vice president Lawrence Achram. Its official website is merely a dark gray page with the company’s name and the words “coming soon.”

State officials have welcomed the deal because it promises to bring lost jobs back to the Land of Lincoln.

“There’s so much to gain, and, from our perspective, not much to lose,”explained council member R.C. McBride in an interview with newspaper Pantagraph. The agreement reached states Rivian needs to invest a minimum of $40.5 million and hire at least 500 workers by 2021 in order to receive tax breaks.

If everything goes according to plan, the purchase will be finalized on January 3 of next year.

Emerging Tech

Leafy greens are grown by machines at new, automated Silicon Valley farm

Farming hasn't changed too much for hundreds of years. Now a new startup called Iron Ox has opened its first automated hydroponics farm, producing a variety of leafy greens tended by machines.
Emerging Tech

Tokyo robotic warehouse needs almost no human workers

Uniqlo has unveiled its first robot-powered warehouse that requires 90 percent fewer human workers to operate. The Japanese clothing giant plans to invest close to $1 billion dollars to convert all of its warehouses worldwide.

‘Bloodhound’ rocket car needs a speedy cash injection to survive

The rocket-powered Bloodhound car has driven into difficulties, with the company behind the project needing a multi-million-dollar cash injection to save its dream of attempting a 1,000 mph land speed record.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in October, from 'The Witch’ to ‘Black Panther’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, subdued humor, or anything in between.

Room to roam: The supersized X7 is unlike any BMW you’ve ever seen

The first-ever BMW X7 is the 7 Series of the SUV world in terms of size, price, and image. Its supersized body has enough room for seven adult passengers and enough tech to impress even the most cutting-edge buyers.

'4WD' or 'AWD'? Which setup is right for you?

Although four-wheel drive (4WD) and all-wheel drive (AWD) are related, they are actually quite different in how they operate. Here, we talk about the fundamental differences between the two systems, and what it means for you as a driver.

Google Maps now shows EV owners the way to the nearest charging station

Google Maps now lets electric-car owners find the nearest charging station with ease. It's also added data on the number and types of ports available, charging speeds, and notes on the business where the station is located.

Heads up, George Jetson: Terrafugia starts taking orders for its flying car

The Terrafugia Transition flying car will go on sale next year, roughly a decade after the first prototype rolled out of its hangar. Terrafugia promises improvements, including a hybrid powertrain, to make up for the long wait.

At 503 mph, Turbinator II is the world’s fastest wheel-driven vehicle

The Turbinator II is a four-wheel drive streamliner powered by a 5,000-horsepower helicopter engine, and it just achieved 503.332 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats. That's an unofficial record for a wheel-driven car.

Lyft has a new fixed-price subscription plan for frequent passengers

Lyft wants you to save money by using rideshare services instead of owning a car. The new Lyft All-Access Plan monthly rideshare trip subscription includes 30 rides a month with a small discount for additional trips.

Could the next Mazda3 boast a fuel-saving breakthrough in engine tech?

Mazda released a teaser video that likely previews the next Mazda3. Expected to make its global debut at the L.A. auto show, the next 3 will wear a more curvaceous design and offer one of the most advanced engines in the automotive…

Workhorse takes on diesel with lighter, cheaper NGEN-1000 electric delivery van

Ohio-based Workhorse Group claims its new NGEN-1000 electric delivery van costs the same as a conventional diesel van and can haul a similar amount of cargo. A lower curb weight makes this possible.
Product Review

Audi's new A8 is so sophisticated and serene, it practically deletes potholes

The 2019 Audi A8’s outline looks promising: Level 3 autonomous driving capability, haptic-feedback infotainment screens, rear-wheel steering, Matrix LED headlights and OLED taillights, plus a predictive suspension.

Forget transponders with Peasy’s nationwide pay-as-you-go toll service

Verra Mobility launched Peasy, a consumer highway and bridge toll payment service. Designed to be less hassle than managing traditional transponder or toll tag accounts, Peasy pays tolls as they are levied across most of the U.S.