Mitsubishi's old factory will house a new startup.
Last year, Japanese automaker Mitsubishi closed its only North American factory in Illinois, despite improving sales. The plant was formerly used to build the Outlander Sport and was originally opened in 1988 as a joint venture with Chrysler. According to a report by Automotive News, a new company called Rivian Automotive is in talks to buy the plant. Rivian has plans to invest $175 million in the plant by 2024 and create 500 jobs by 2021, according to a press release from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
Not much is currently known about Rivian Automotive, which was founded in 2009 by CEO RJ Scaringe, a graduate of RPI and MIT university. The company describes itself as "developing an integrated portfolio of products and services to advance the shift to sustainable mobility." The mission is to create "solutions that redefine traditional automotive economics and remove the pain points of conventional ownership." If you have any idea what that means, then let us know. We interpreted it as some kind of autonomous or sustainable drivetrain technology, but even the company's website simply says "Coming Soon" while the state of Illinois doesn't know what the company is planning either.
There have been conflicting reports on whether the deal to purchase the Mitsubishi factory have been finalized. As of now, Jacquelyn Reineke, a spokeswoman for the Illinois DCEO, denied that an official deal has been agreed to. Reineke said that "The local taxing bodies are still debating incentives for the company before a deal can be reached." We still have no idea what Rivian wants to build, but the company does have some experienced employees. The COO Gabriel Mesanza previously worked for GM and graduated from the Wharton School of business.
The company has also hired a former Chrysler vice president, and a former designer from GM and Ford. We look forward to finally learning what Rivian is all about, and hopefully a new American car company can emerge from the ashes of Mitsubishi.