A Normal development

The recently shuttered Diamond-Star Motors plant in Normal, Illinois, built as a joint venture of Chrysler and Mitsubishi in 1988, may be seeing future duty as, yes, an automobile plant:

According to Reuters, Detroit-based Rivian Automotive has agreed to purchase the plant and reopen it within five years. Going by Rivian’s website, the only thing we know for sure about the automotive venture is that it’s “coming soon.”

The company, which hasn’t confirmed the purchase, bills itself as an automotive technology venture interested in sustainable mobility. At the helm is CEO RJ Scaringe, who formed the company in 2009.

Still, Normal mayor Chris Koos says it’s a done deal. He told Reuters that Rivian plans to employ a workforce of 500 when the plant reopens in 2021, with that number eventually growing to 1,000 employees. State and local economic development agencies claim Rivian will invest $175 million into the operation by 2024.

A lot of vaporware has wafted past our sensors in recent years, and we don’t even know what Rivian plans to do, let alone how they plan to do it. TTAC’s Steph Willams takes a guess:

Though it sounds like a garden-variety mobility technology startup, Rivian seems to want to produce actual vehicles, though it hasn’t mentioned any potential partners or suppliers. What those (clearly electric) vehicles might look like is anyone’s guess. Assuming this gets off the ground, the rolling stock would likely form part of a ride-sharing service.

Uber, but without Uberness.

Mr Scaringe brings some serious educational heft with him: graduate of Rensselaer, PhD from MIT. And the auto industry is always in need of Smart Guys, especially Smart Guys who go their own way. (See Musk, Elon.)

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2 comments »

  1. fillyjonk »

    10 December 2016 · 3:14 pm

    I used to live there. I know a little of how the town’s management currently works. I will just observe I will believe it when I see the cars for sale. And even then, I wouldn’t expect it to last that long

    (The town went from a very sensible, pay-as-you-go model in the early 90s to a current “We want to be just like Hyde Park, no matter what kind of debt we get into and how much we meddle in the affairs of small businesspeople.” The little downtown – sorry, UPtown, as they now insist on it being called – has become largely unrecognizable from what it was when I lived there in the mid 90s. Yes, I have strong feelings about this)

    The road out that way is still called Mitsubishi Motorway, which must be sad to drive by for folks who used to be employed there.

  2. ETat »

    10 December 2016 · 3:36 pm

    Qualified workforce might not wait 5-10 years for something vague; bills have to be paid and children – fed.

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