American EV start-up Rivian is in talks with UK government over new factory in Bristol.
US electric vehicle start-up Rivian could expand beyond the US by making its new 4×4 ute and wagon models in the UK, according to Sky News.
Sky reports that talks are not yet at “an advanced stage”, but cites industry sources as saying Rivian’s decision to build in the UK would likely be worth more than £1 billion (AUD$1.88 billion) to the country’s economy.
The ‘secret negotiations’ detailed in the report are said to be ongoing at the same time as similar discussions between Rivian and representatives of Germany and the Netherlands, as the company gears up to expand its presence outside the US, following a planned market launch this year.
A UK facility would be more likely to build cars, rather than their batteries, Sky said, though its sources suggested a battery ‘gigafactory’ remains on the cards. Prime minister Boris Johnson is said to have been briefed on the evolving plans, and is taking a “keen interest”.
Rivian’s passenger car line-up will comprise the technically identical R1T pick up and R1S SUV from launch. Sat atop a bespoke skateboard-style platform, the duo are said to offer a maximum range of more than 640km, a 0-100kph time of just 3.0secs and impressive off-road ability.
Rivian’s models will be priced from the equivalent of $90,000 in the US, and it could reasonably be expected for Australian versions to be within ball park if production occurs int he right-hand drive UK.
Last week, the company announced it had raised $2.5bn (AUD$3.3bn) in its most recent funding round, taking total investment to around $10.5bn (AUD$14.2bn). Among its highest-profile backers are Ford, which will use Rivian’s skateboard platform for an upcoming EV, and Amazon, which has ordered 100,000 bespoke electric vans from the Silicon Valley-headquarted manufacturer.
News of Rivian’s potential plans for a UK-based production outpost comes shortly after Nissan announced plans to drastically upgrade and future-proof its Sunderland factory with a dedicated battery facility and a new production line for an as-yet unseen electric crossover.
Stellantis also recently provided a boost for UK manufacturing with the announcement that the long-uncertain future of its Ellesmere Port facility had been secured; it will now build electric vans for Peugeot, Citroën and Vauxhall.
If Bristol is chosen as the final location, Rivian’s factory will only be roughly 50km from the ex-Honda factory in Swindon, which closed last week.
A final decision is set to be made in the coming months, but Sky News was unable to obtain an official comment from Rivian.