NORMAL, Ill. — As vehicle panels are being pressed into the shape of an R1T pickup at Rivian Automotive's gleaming central Illinois factory, CEO RJ Scaringe points toward the assembly line and proudly proclaims, "that is someone's car."
That pride was evident throughout a media tour this month of the former Mitsubishi Motors plant in the university town of Normal. From the stamping department through general assembly and the paint shop, Scaringe points out cool details at every station.
Rivian bought the site for $16.5 million in 2017 and has turned it into a modern facility making some of America's first electric pickups. Some former Mitsubishi workers — and their grown children — now assemble the R1T, along with an SUV and electric delivery van.
Rivian added 700,000 square feet to the original building, which had housed a joint venture between Mitsubishi Motors and Chrysler before Mitsubishi took over the plant. Mitsubishi closed it in 2015. Rivian salvaged vehicle stamping equipment as part of its efforts to reuse as much as possible.