Rivian could build electric vehicles in the UK

4 August 2021 - autocar

Rivian could build electric vehicles in the UK

Sky News reports that American EV start-up is in talks with UK government over new factory in Bristol

American electric vehicle start-up Rivian is in talks with the UK government to build a vehicle factory near Bristol, according to Sky News.

Sky reports that talks aren't yet at "an advanced stage" but cites industry sources as saying Rivian's decision to build here would likely be worth more than £1 billion to the UK 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 electric vehicles, rather than their batteries, Sky said, although 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", according to Sky. 

Rivian's car line-up will comprise the technically identical R1T pick-up truck and R1S SUV from launch. Sat atop a bespoke, skateboard-style platform, the duo are said to offer a maximum range of more than 400 miles, a 0-60mph time of just 3.0sec and impressive off-road ability.

They will be priced from the equivalent of £48,500 in the US, and it could reasonably be expected for European versions to roughly maintain that pricing structure if localised production is secured. Though given large SUVs and trucks are far less in demand in Europe than in the US, it could be more likely that the factory would build local-spec versions of Rivian's bespoke Amazon delivery van. 

Last week, Rivian announced that it had raised $2.5bn (£1.8bn) in its most recent funding round, taking total investment to around $10.5bn (£7.54bn). 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 futureproof 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 small electric vans for Citroën, Peugeot and Vauxhall. 

If Bristol is chosen as the final location, Rivian's factory will only be around an hour 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 was unable to obtain an official comment from Rivian. 

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