The EV startup is pausing its production prep work as COVID-19 keeps still more Americans at home.
Electric vehicle startup Rivian is following the lead of America's other automakers and putting its plans on ice as the novel coronavirus COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the US. Fox News reports that Rivian will continue to pay its salaried employees and hourly workers in full for the duration of the shutdown, although the shutdown currently has no set end-date.
Detroit's Big Three automakers - Ford, GM, and Fiat Chrysler - all announced plans last week to idle North American production facilities both to keep workers isolated from the spread of COVID-19, and to pause production as their respective supply chains experience disruptions.
Tesla, meanwhile, has announced its intention to idle plants in New York and California starting Monday, while the company's Nevada-based battery facility will continue operating until further notice.
But Rivian's case is unique as the company has yet to build a saleable production vehicle. The startup, which has received financial support from the likes of Ford and Amazon, is slated to start producing the 2021 Rivian R1T electric pickup truck later this year, ahead of launching a battery-powered utility vehicle - the R1S - and beginning assembly of battery-electric vehicles for Amazon's Prime delivery service and Ford's Lincoln luxury brand.
Rivian, which is headquartered in Plymouth, Michigan, has a plant in Normal, Illinois where the R1T, R1S, Amazon Prime, and Lincoln vehicles will be built, with production scheduled to start in December of this year. It's one of very few companies that might conceivably pose a credible threat to Tesla's dominance in the volume electric vehicle space, thanks to its brainpower and the strength of its funding.
Rivian is pinning its hopes not only on its ability to produce and sell Rivian-branded electric vehicles, however, but also on its ability to license its technology to other automakers. Ford and Amazon Prime are just the first of what Rivian hopes will be many customers to pay for its cutting-edge EV tech.