Amazon-backed electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian is in talks with UK government officials about building its first plant outside the US.
According to Sky News, the company has been in secret negotiations with the British government about constructing a “giant factory” near Bristol in the UK.
Rivian has earmarked a 616-acre campus, named Gravity, as its preferred UK location.
Interestingly, Tesla was reportedly in talks to acquire this same campus for a potential Gigafactory. It’s currently constructing a new Gigafactory in Germany, set to open by the end of 2021.
Sky News understands the UK factory would be focused on building Rivian’s electric vehicles rather than building the batteries that power them.
Rivian also plans to launch an initial public offering in New York as soon as this year that would value the company at US$70 billion (A$95 billion).
The company is doing whatever it can to remain a Tesla competitor, raising another US$2.5 billion (A$3.39 billion) this month from investors to bring total investments to a total of US$10.5 billion (A$14.25 billion).
RJ Scaringe, the company’s founder, said the latest capital injection would enable it “to scale new vehicle programmes, expand our domestic facility footprint, and fuel international product rollout”.
The company’s biggest customer to date is Amazon, who has placed an order for 100,000 electric vans. Production will begin this year for those orders.
Rivian is introducing the R1T utility vehicle this year, which will start at US$67,500 (A$93,301) and compete with the GMC Hummer EV ute and Tesla Cybertruck.
There’s also an SUV version called the R1S, which will be built alongside it at the company’s Normal, Illinois plant, an ex-Mitsubishi factory.
US deliveries of both models are set to begin between September and November 2021.
A range of battery packs is available for the R1S and R1T, ranging from 105kWh to 180kWh.
The quickest Rivians will be those fitted with the 135kWh battery pack and will produce 562kW of power and 1120Nm of torque.
Rivian is yet to announce expansion plans to Australia but has previously expressed interest in bringing its vehicles Down Under.
The company is so far proving to be one of the better-managed EV start-ups. The same can’t be said for Lordstown Motors, which has battled resignations and investigations.
Fortunately for the Ohio based start-up, a hedge fund managed by Yorkville Advisors has agreed to buy US$400 million (A$543 million) worth of shares to help save the company.
Lordstown isn’t the only US EV start-up that has been in hot water. Former Nikola CEO Trevor Milton was this week charged with making fraudulent statements about the company.