The city of Normal, Illinois, home to Rivian’s main manufacturing facility, is to preparing to remove one of the last reminders of its previous automotive tenant in favor of the all-electric car maker’s business interests in the area. A stretch of highway leading to the company’s plant named Mitsubishi Motorway will be renamed to Rivian Motorway if all goes well with the city councils and county board involved in granting the final approvals for the change.
Rivian specifically requested the changes, according to a memo written by Assistant City Manager Eric Hanson to the Normal City Council. “Obviously, it’s not necessarily advantageous for them to bring (potential investors) down Mitsubishi Motorway,” he said. “This is very business driven, and we fully understand that and are supportive of helping them with a name change.” A second road for access to Rivian’s factory is also planned for renaming, citing the same reasons – Sakura Lane will be renamed to Electric Avenue.
Rivian bought their factory headquarters from Mitsubishi in 2017, and efforts are currently underway to transition from a traditional auto manufacturing process to the electrified lineup they have in the works. Many of the workers currently involved in the changeover process were part of the original Mitsubishi team that opened the factory when it was new. Driving these moves are Rivian’s R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV set to debut in 2020, so it’s expected that the company will continue to make further changes that align with its business interests.
The city of Normal has welcomed Rivian’s decision to set up shop in the area and has even offered significant incentives for the car maker to continue investment and development of their operations. Specifically, these include a $1 million dollar grant from Normal for investing $20 million within five years, property tax abatement, and almost $50 million dollars in state tax credits for creating 1,000 jobs over 10 years. Renaming two streets directly connecting to Rivian’s facility only seems like a natural progression considering the company’s current relationship with its manufacturing headquarters.
Along with renovating its factory, Rivian is taking care to address some pitfalls other electric car makers have had to struggle through. “So, we’re spending a huge amount of time solving service,” CEO RJ Scaringe revealed in a recent interview. His comment was in response to a question on how the company plans to address concerns such as parts and service backlogs that have plagued Rivian’s electric car brethren, namely Tesla. Scaringe has also taken positive lessons from its competitor. “[Tesla] showed people that an electric car can be exciting and fun,” he acknowledged while at the Automotive News World Congress.
Overall, it’s certainly not surprising for Rivian to start asserting itself in its local area. This is especially true when considering advantages Mitsubishi enjoyed during its tenure in Normal. The next steps for the company could be to successfully petition lawmakers to allow direct sales in one of its desired markets, Colorado, and perhaps look for a domino effect to achieve that same feat in Texas and elsewhere.