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Rivian Gets Nearly $1 Billion to Help Expand Operations in Illinois

Can the boost help the company's midsize R2 make it to market?

In early March, Rivian paused construction of a planned $5 billion electric truck plant in Georgia. The cost-cutting measure hoped to speed production, particularly of the company's midsize SUV, the R2, which will now be made at its existing plant in Normal, Illinois.

To help make it happen, Rivian last Tuesday announced an incentive package worth $827 million from the State of Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity. The funds will help expand operations in Normal, improve public infrastructure and boost job training programs for Rivian's workforce. All in an effort to help get R2 production up and running and get the electric SUV on the market. 

In a statement, Rivian Founder and CEO RJ Scaringe says he was "grateful" for the investment. The gratitude makes sense since TechCrunch this week reported that Rivian lost about $1.45 billion in the first quarter. So, the company still needs to find ways to trim costs despite the $1.2 billion it did in revenue during the same period. Still, the company is losing around $38,000 per vehicle. 

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    Rivian recently retooled its Illinois factory, a process that took weeks to complete but could lower production costs. According to the company, it added some 600 new or modified robots to improve efficiency on existing production lines. The company also saved $2.25 billion by putting a pin in the Georgia project. 

    As Rivian looks to boost revenue, it may have just received a substantial opportunity given the recent news from Tesla, which laid off its entire EV charging division in its own cost-cutting maneuver. 

    Rivian is exploring opening up its charging network, the Rivian Adventure Network, to EVs from competing manufacturers. According to TechCrunch, the network could be a new profit center and open up eligibility for federal funding.

    As R2 production comes online, the Normal factory will still manufacture Rivian's R1S, R1T, and commercial electric delivery vehicles.

    Now, if that wasn't enough excitement for the startup, according to a report from DigiTimes, speculation is swirling over a potential partnership between Rivian and a major consumer device manufacturer desperate to make a play in the EV market. The potential partner? Apple.

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