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Watch now: EV truck startup Rivian launches production in Normal

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Electric vehicle start-up Rivian Automotive has turned a concept into reality, bringing the first fully battery-electric truck to market. READ MORE HERE.

After months of delays, fine-tuning and test runs, Rivian’s first production electric truck rolled off the line and into a customer’s hands Tuesday, launching a new era of automobile manufacturing in Illinois.

Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe marked the moment with a Twitter post Tuesday as workers cheered and a blue R1T truck drove off the line at the EV startup’s plant in downstate Normal.

“Our team’s collective efforts have made this moment possible,” Scaringe tweeted. “Can’t wait to get these into the hands of our customers!”

The electric vehicles received certification from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board, and are “ready for sale in all 50 states,” Rivian spokeswoman Amy Mast said Wednesday.

Founded in 2009, Rivian is building an electric truck and SUV, as well as 100,000 custom EV delivery vans for Amazon, an investor in the company. Rivian has raised about $10.5 billion from investors since 2019, a roster that also includes Ford Motor Co. and T. Rowe Price, valuing the company at $28 billion at the start of the year.

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Vehicles are assembled and tested April 14, 2021, before the new Rivian plant fully opened in Normal.

Last month, Rivian announced it submitted a draft registration statement to the Securities and Exchange Commission for a proposed initial public offering, with a valuation that will likely run significantly higher.

Rivian began taking preorders in November of special launch editions of its R1T truck and R1S SUV, with initial plans to begin delivery in June. The launch was delayed by the pandemic, a semiconductor chip shortage and other issues, the company said.

The inaugural models have 300-plus miles of range, go from zero to 60 mph in 3 seconds and start at $73,000 for the truck and $75,500 for the SUV, offset by a $7,500 federal tax credit for electric vehicles. Production for the SUV is expected to begin in the fall.

With headquarters in Irvine, California, Rivian has 2,960 employees working at its sole production facility, a converted Mitsubishi plant in Normal, a rural college town about 130 miles south of Chicago, and 8,000 employees overall.

Rivian has a head start on a number of competitors as it vies to become the Tesla of trucks. In July, Ford unveiled the F-150 Lightning, an electric version of its popular pickup truck, at a special summer edition of the Chicago Auto Show. The F-150 Lightning, which starts at just under $40,000, offset by the $7,500 federal tax credit, is due in dealerships by the middle of next year.

Illinois had 27,506 registered electric vehicles as of the end of June. Gov. J.B. Pritzker has set a goal of putting 1 million electric vehicles on Illinois roads by 2030.

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