This is the third fire to plague the plant in recent months.
Emergency services raced over to Rivian's Normal-based manufacturing plant after a battery pack caught alight in the facility's battery testing area. The incident, which occurred on Saturday morning, led to the evacuation of the battery assembly area to allow firefighters to gain control of the situation.
The Normal Fire Department shared news of the inferno on its Facebook page, reporting that the blaze took place in the southwest side of the factory, where the batteries for Rivian vehicles are built. Emergency responders quickly doused the flames and continued to spray water over the battery pack to prevent reignition.
The damaged unit was moved outside and eventually returned to Rivian for investigation. According to WGLT.org, this is the third fire to plague the facility in recent months.
The cause of the fire is currently unknown, but the Normal Fire Department notes the battery pack in question was undergoing testing in a repair area. Luckily for Rivian, the only damage caused was to the testing equipment and the battery pack itself; no one was injured and the vehicles and production lines escaped unscathed.
This will come as a relief for would-be Rivian owners. There's strong interest in the R1T truck but buyers are getting increasingly impatient as production delays stand between them and their battery-powered trucks. In recent weeks, CEO RJ Scaringe has criticized key suppliers for unfair practices.
"I have to call up semiconductor supplier Y and say this is how many Supplier X gave us and get everybody comfortable because the system's unproven. It's really frustrating," said the chief executive.
Saturday's inferno could have been ruinous for Rivian. Battery blazes have a reputation for spiraling out of control all too quickly and are far more difficult to extinguish than regular fires. This is something firefighters have criticized in the past; where the average car fire requires just 300 gallons of water, a Houston fire chief expressed his frustrations over battery-related fires - even after being doused with 28,000 gallons, one EV fire refused to die.
Thankfully, safety-minded automakers like Volvo are educating first responders on how to deal with electric vehicles in emergencies. Despite the risks associated with electric vehicles, Tesla recently released a report which suggests EVs are far less likely to combust into flames. "From 2012 to 2020, there has been approximately one Tesla vehicle fire for every 205 million miles traveled. By comparison, data shows that in the US there is one ICE vehicle fire for every 19 million miles traveled," it reads.