ELECTRIC vehicle manufacturer Rivian is in talks with the UK government to set up a factory in Bristol, according to reports.
The Amazon-backed Tesla rival is discussing with ministers the prospect of government incentives should it commit to the £1 billion project in the UK, Sky News claimed. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has declined to make any official comment, although Prime Minister Boris Johnson is thought to be taking a personal interest in the proposal.
Rivian currently has one factory in the US — a former Mitsubishi plant in Illinois — and is reportedly looking at a 616-acre site near Bristol for its potential UK operations.
The Bristol factory would be earmarked to build vehicles rather than batteries, which would likely mean that Rivian has ambitions to sell cars in the UK and European market as well as the US. That said, Sky describes the negotiations as ‘fluid’, and it could well be that battery production is still a possibility.
The report also stated that Britain faced competition from other European locations, with parallel talks taking place between Rivian and the German and Dutch governments, according to its sources.
Rivian’s ambitions for growth
Rivian recently registered several new model names with patent authorities. While this is a common practice and doesn’t necessarily mean that a raft of new vehicles is planned, it’s thought that Rivian has ambitions to produce smaller passenger cars as well as large SUVs and pick-ups.
Ford has invested $500m (£361m) in the company, as the two car manufacturers plan to collaborate on developing an electric vehicle, most likely a pick-up, using Rivian’s scalable vehicle architecture.
Rivian — set up by entrepreneur RJ Scaringe — has won much praise for both the styling and engineering of its R1T pick-up and R1S SUV electric vehicles. The two models are due to launch in the US market within the next few week, with roomy interiors, options such as a slide-out camping stove, and the ability to ‘tank-turn’ — by turning different wheels at different speeds, Rivian’s cars can turn almost within its own length (albeit only on soft surfaces, not on tarmac).
Rivian has also begun rolling out the first of 100,000 bespoke Amazon electric delivery vans. The online retailer purchased the vans a year ago as part of plans to become a carbon-neutral company by 2040. The online marketplace hopes to have up to a tenth of the fleet in operation by 2022, with the vans operating in 16 US cities by the end of this year.