Rivian, an electric-car startup financed by US online retail giant Amazon, is in negotiations with the UK government over a possibly major support package to establish an electric vehicle manufacturing facility in the UK.
Rivian has plans to introduce an all-electric R1T ute (pickup truck) and R1S SUV in coming months and has previously said that Australia will be a key market. Now, it would seem that the UK is also in its sights.
And it makes sense. The UK’s generous plug-in car grant combined with measures designed to discourage combustion vehicles from entering busy city centres such as in London and Birmingham, EV sales have doubled in twelve months.
And while it is the Tesla Model 3 that is currently the best-selling all-electric vehicle in the UK, there is surely has another gap in the market waiting to be filled, such as that of the Land Rover which has plans to offer electric versions of its sturdy SUVs but only from 2024.
A UK plant could also be good news for Australia: while a local factory would be preferable, the new report means that Rivian is making plans to build right-hand versions of its big battery electric vehicles, which will come with numerous features designed for off-road driving and camping.
The news comes shortly after the US-based electric vehicle startup raised another $A3.4 billion adding to its already substantial funding from Amazon, Ford, and Cox Automotive among others.
According to the UK’s Sky News, Rivian has been in talks with the British government for weeks about building a plant near Bristol.
While the talks are reportedly still in the early stages, any funding decision would almost certainly be worth more than 1 billion pounds ($A1.9 billion), according to the news agency.
“While we are seeking to attract inbound investment into the UK to drive the growth of new industries, we cannot comment on speculation about individual projects,” BEIS said in an emailed statement according to Reuters, declining to comment on funding arrangements with individual organisations.
In July, Rivian said it is postponing deliveries of its maiden vehicle by more than a month owing to supply chain concerns, according to a letter issued to consumers by its CEO.
“The cascading impacts of the pandemic have had a compounding effect greater than anyone anticipated,” Chief Executive Officer R.J. Scaringe said in a letter reviewed by Reuters.
The global semiconductor shortage has caused carmakers such as Volkswagen, Ford, and General Motors to curtail production as consumer electronics manufacturers swept the chip market clean.
Rivian is planning to go public later this year with a valuation of around $A90 billion – a surprising figure considering that in 2018, Tesla CEO Elon Musk touted taking Tesla private at $US420, which at the time would have valued the Californian EV maker at around $102 billion.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.