Amazon-backed electric vehicle maker Rivian in talks with ministers over UK plant

Amazon-backed electric vehicle maker Rivian in talks with ministers over UK plant

An Amazon and Ford-backed electric vehicle (EV) maker is in talks with ministers over building a giant UK plant that could include a major state support program.

Sky News has learned that Rivian, who is also backed by Ford Motor Company and many of Silicon Valley’s biggest investors, had been in secret negotiations with the UK government for weeks over building a plant near Bristol. .

Talks are not at an advanced stage yet and Britain faces competition from competing proposals from Germany and the Netherlands, industry sources say.

Any investment decision will likely be worth well over £ 1 billion, they added.

If Rivian chooses to build a factory in the UK – which would be his first outside the US – it would represent another major boost to the country’s auto sector following recent announcements from Nissan and Stellantis, the owner of Vauxhall.

Rivian raised an additional $ 2.5bn (£ 1.8bn) from investors earlier this month, bringing the total amount he has raised since 2019 to a gargantuan amount of 10.5bn dollars (£ 7.5 billion).

RJ Scaringe, founder and CEO of the company, said the latest injection of capital would allow him “to develop new vehicle programs, expand the footprint of our domestic facilities and fuel international product deployment.” .

Deliveries to customers of its R1T electric trucks, which will sell for from $ 67,500 (£ 48,500), are expected to start in the fall – although they have suffered previous delays.

RJ. Scaringe is the founder of the company

Talks with ministers would focus on a Rivian vehicle manufacturing facility, rather than the batteries used to power them, although insiders said negotiations were fluid and could still evolve into a massive factory.

Several companies are planning to build giga factories in the UK, including South Korean conglomerates LG and Samsung.

Boris Johnson has been briefed on Rivian’s talks and would be keenly interested in their progress, according to an industry executive.

The nature of a government subsidy program is not yet defined, and it was unclear this weekend whether Rivian had not yet made formal requests for funding or tax breaks to ministers.

Rivian has reportedly identified Gravity, a 616-acre campus near Bristol, as a potential site for a new manufacturing plant.

Its existing plant is in Normal, Ill. – which it acquired from Mitsubishi Motors in 2017 – and last week the company confirmed it was looking for an alternate location in the United States to build its vehicles.

The electric vehicle (EV) group is also said to be preparing to launch a first public offering in New York this year that would value it up to $ 70 billion (£ 50.3 billion).

That would make it much smaller in terms of market value than Tesla, Elon Musk’s electric vehicle company, which has a market value of $ 680 billion (£ 489 billion) and has seen its shares more than double in the over the past year.

Nonetheless, at a valuation north of $ 50 billion, Rivian would be one of the largest publicly traded electric vehicle companies in the world.

Its other shareholders include BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, hedge fund Third Point and Dragoneer Investment Group, a prolific technology investor.

Rivian’s biggest customer to date is Amazon, which has placed an order for 100,000 electric trucks, with production slated to begin this year.

A decision on whether to proceed with a plant in the UK or on the continent is expected in the coming months.

If it were to progress in Britain, it would further confuse predictions that the country’s auto sector was heading into terminal decline after Brexit.

Deliveries to customers of its R1T electric trucks, which will sell for from $ 67,500 (£ 48,500), are expected to start in the fall

Honda’s decision to shut down its Swindon plant, announced in 2019, was seen as a blow to the industry, with Nissan warning that its future investment would be in jeopardy if Britain left the trade bloc.

Recent developments involving both the Japanese automaker and Stellantis have rekindled hopes for a better future for auto manufacturing in the UK.

The government’s decision to ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars by 2030 and hybrid vehicles by 2035 has accelerated the need for a dramatic shift in manufacturing capacity.

However, serious concerns remain that the provision of electric vehicle charging infrastructure will fail to keep pace with demand.

A BEIS spokesperson said: “As we work to attract foreign investment to the UK to accelerate the growth of new industries, we cannot comment on individual investment speculation. “

Rivian declined to comment this weekend.


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