Michigan-based electric vehicle startup, Rivian Automotive, just closed its purchase of the Mitsubishi Motors North America facility in Normal, Illinois. Records show that the factory was first purchased by liquidation firm, Maynards Industries, in June of 2016 for $2.5M, not including machinery, before Rivian’s recent acquisition for an undisclosed amount. The electric car upstart plans to invest $40.5 million into the factory over the next five years and begin vehicle production in 2019.
Rivian Automotive first began discussions with the town and factory owner in mid-September, before announcing on December 9 that they had entered into an agreement to purchase the facility. The Town of Normal gave the company an incentive package, including a five-year tax abatement and a $1 million grant contingent upon the hiring of approximately 1,000 workers and a $175 million investment into the site through 2024.
“We had all but given up hope on a buyer for the Mitsubishi Plant,” Mark Peterson, Town of Normal City Manager, said in a report to the Mayor and the Town Council. Based on records received from the Town of Normal, it is evident that city officials spent countless hours working on the deal.
“As a community, we are thrilled that Rivian has chosen us. It is incredibly rare that a major manufacturing facility in Midwest shutters and then finds new life,” said Town of Normal Mayor Chris Koos in a comment to Teslarati.
The company was founded in 2009 as Mainstream Motors in Florida and later changed its name to Avera Automotive, before becoming Rivian Automotive in 2011. They relocated their operations to Detroit Michigan in Fall 2015 after receiving financial backing from an undisclosed investor. Until today, Rivian Automotive has been operating in stealth mode. The company has launched a newly refreshed website announcing their presence within the electric car space.
Rivian’s new website claims, “Rivian is developing a flexible electric platform that will underpin our launch portfolio. Our vehicles are being optimized around the electric architecture to deliver outstanding performance, efficiency, packaging, durability and safety.”
Mitsubishi Motors built the facility in 1988 in a joint partnership with Chrysler Corporation and then became the sole operator of the plant in 1991. The 2.4 million square-foot plant is capable of producing over 240,000 vehicles per year and sits on over 500 acres of land. In 2012, Mitsubishi invest over $100 million into the plant to produce the new Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. Due to disappointing sales, Mitsubishi announced the closure in August 2015 and ceased operations in May 2016.
The chances of success are slim in the automotive sector, but Rivian’s acquisition of the plant gives them a competitive advantage over others. While would-be competitor Faraday Future struggles to finance construction on their North Las Vegas factory, Rivian already has a manufacturing facility that requires relatively little capital to bring back to a production-ready state.
Rivian Automotive was unable to reach for a comment.
The Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council did not return our request for comment.