After electric truckmaker Rivian announced in December that it will spend $5 billion to build a large assembly plant on an undeveloped site near Atlanta, employing about 7,500, a couple of thousand locals were not happy.
A Facebook group calling itself "No2Rivian.org," with about 2,800 followers, is dedicated to halting the vehicle project. Their issue is not, apparently, that they dislike Rivian. It's simply that they just don't understand why the project is moving so fast. What about its environmental impact, critics have asked? What about the resulting exacerbation of traffic issues? The sprawling Atlanta region is ever sensitive to more traffic.
Why the rush, the critics appear to be asking?
They're not alone.
In Germany, environmentalists have been asking the same question about a new Tesla factory project outside of Berlin for the past couple of years. What's the hurry?
In the U.S., Tesla has some renown for its ability to construct an auto plant quickly. But German environmentalists are renown for being German environmentalists. Critics feel that Tesla's project, which was supposed to open in December, was rushed through its approval process. The so-called Brandenburg plant has raised concerns that it might destroy the habitat for local species of bats, lizards and snakes.
Last week, Tesla got handed another scheduling challenge when a local court said it would hear the concerns of environmentalists worried that the electric vehicle plant will strain the community's water supply.
Again, the question of average onlookers: Why the rush?
And here's the answer: It's a gold rush.
The emerging world EV market is the 2020s equivalent of the 1850s California gold rush, and hundreds of thousands of people are selling their houses back east, buying a pickax and rushing in wagon trains for a spot on the creek to get rich.
There is no time to shilly-shally. Global electric light-vehicle sales more than doubled to 6.7 million vehicles last year, and the volumes will only go up from there through the end of this decade. And the plain reality of it? There are not enough EV factories. Not enough for Tesla, not enough for Ford, or Volkswagen, or Kia, Nissan or Geely. The established automakers of the world are having to get up and scramble in their wagon trains side by side against the unknowns, the unprovens and the unestablished.