Rivian’s Vice President of Manufacturing, Matt Tall, has revealed some details about the company’s production plant in Normal, Illinois and its progress in supporting Amazon’s recent purchase of 100,000 electric vans.
In an interview at a local community event near, Tall discussed Rivian’s current project of gutting the inside of the factory in an attempt to prepare for the massive Amazon operation. “Right now we’re in a kind of a refurbish-it mode. We demolitioned all of the old, prior equipment that was built for cars…We’re in the process of painting, installing all-new lights, redoing floors, getting the facility ready for all the equipment that’s going to build our vehicles for us,” said Tall.
The former Mitsubishi plant that was acquired by Rivian in 2017 will become the main production facility for the company’s upcoming all-electric R1T pickup truck, the R1S SUV, and electric Amazon vans. Additionally, the facility is expected to become the production facility for vehicle battery modules. According to the Rivian Manufacturing executive, the plant is undergoing transformation to support battery equipment by late year to early 2020.
Although Amazon has recently made it clear they’re not all-in on their so-called “Climate Pledge,” the company has no plans to withdraw from their deal with Rivian for electric vans. Tall notes that Rivian is taking the necessary steps to prepare for the massive operation. “It’s making sure that you have all your I’s dotted and your T’s crossed. So obviously building 100,000 Amazon vehicles brings a different dynamic because of the size.”
The Amazon project is one of the reasons for Rivian’s increased notoriety within the last few months. The growing electric car industry has contributed to the growth of Rivian as a team as well, and they are planning to ramp up new employees within the next six to eight months. Rivian “obviously” took resumes at Sunday’s event in Uptown Normal, where they are looking for people to fill the most important role at a vehicle manufacturing plant: assembly workers.
“It’s the most important position that we can hire at the plant. That’s not to say that our engineers and our salary people are not anywhere as important, but the team members that put the car (together) are really the focus. They become the experts. They take the parts, they know how they interface with other parts,” Tall said. “We probably need 500 to 600 team members to put the cars together.”