Tesla's most fearsome rival is leaving Michigan behind and coming to California.
Electric vehicle startup and Tesla rival, Rivian, is moving most of its operations to Irvine, California, according to an Autoline Daily report, all but saying goodbye to its Plymouth, Michigan headquarters in the process. The company, which is working toward the goal of getting its Normal, Illinois factory up and running by mid-2021, relocated to southeast Michigan a few years ago in order to be close to the heart of America's automotive supply chain.
Current programs already underway in Plymouth, which include the forthcoming Rivian R1T pickup, R1S SUV, and a range of Amazon Prime delivery vans, will wrap up there, but most future design, engineering, and technical development work will take place in Irvine.
One of Autoline's sources told the outlet that many employees at Rivian's Plymouth headquarters are feeling salty over the move, having devoted long hours to honing the company's first batch of vehicles only to be pushed out as the company nears production. Granted, Irvine is already home to Rivian's battery, vehicle dynamics, and customer experience operations, but Michigan has heretofore been its home for design and engineering work.
Responding to the report, a Rivian spokesperson said that the company is "consolidating some engineering teams to our locations in California to improve workflows and reduce environmental impact from travel." Without disputing the report, the spokesperson said Rivian "recently completed an expansion at our Michigan location and it will remain an important presence for us."
According to the spokesperson, 750 of the company's 2,300 employees work out of Michigan, versus about 1,000 in Irvine.
Apart from Tesla, Rivian has been perhaps the most-talked-about electric vehicle manufacturer on the planet in recent years, making waves with the reveal of its first-generation EVs, its competitive battery technology, and its high-profile benefactors, including Ford and Amazon. The company is hoping to license its comprehensive "skateboard" EV architecture to other automakers, and apart from the Prime delivery vans in the pipeline, until recently, Rivian had also been developing a luxurious electric crossover for Ford's Lincoln brand.