Rivian test drove its first R1S SUV0 to roll off its Normal production line. Rivian employees drove the vehicle Friday afternoon through downtown Bloomington and uptown Normal.
BLOOMINGTON — Downtown Bloomington got its first look at Rivian's R1S SUV as the
electric vehicle company prepares to roll its launch-edition trucks off the production line in Normal.
Rivian was there Friday afternoon to test-run an SUV validation prototype, the first of its kind built at its Normal assembly plant.
Rivian engineers took a production model of their new electric SUV on a test drive in downtown Bloomington on Feb. 5. Driving down the interstate will get a little easier for Illinois motorists
using electric vehicles with new road signs pointing the way to EV charging stations.
"It's just exciting that this is all coming into being for the community," said Zach Dietmeier, a Rivian spokesman. "There's going to be a whole lot more coming down the line."
The blue SUV was sporting a special wrap that made the vehicle appear to change colors — from a light blue to a dark purple — as it made its way around the old McLean County Courthouse.
"It's an incredible vehicle," said Normal Mayor Chris Koos, who caught a glimpse of the SUV driving through uptown Normal. "To see that on the streets of Normal, it's just a realization of how far they've come and how close they are to being in full production."
In the past month the Irvine, California-based company has already test run its R1T pickup, which Bloomington-Normal residents may have seen driving around the area.
Construction at its Normal factory has yet to slow as Rivian continues investing billions into building out the former Mitsubishi plant. The factory will eventually employ 1,000 workers.
A Rivian SUV is shown on a test drive in downtown Bloomington on Feb. 5.
Founded in 2009, Rivian recently secured $2.65 billion in the first round of 2021 investments, and has raised a total of $8 billion in the last two years. Backers include T. Rowe Price and Ford.
Now, the company plans to open a showroom in a Chicago neighborhood, one of 10 stores the company will open across the country this year.
The company intends to open in a building at
932 W. Randolph St. in the Fulton-Randolph Market district. A former warehouse meatpacking and warehouse area west of downtown Chicago, Fulton-Randolph Market has been converted into residential units and other developments in recent years.
The company bought the Normal plant in 2017 for $16 million.
The Chicago Tribune contributed to this report. 6 things to know about Rivian's new Chicago showroom
6 things to know about Rivian's new Chicago showroom
The space, at 932 W. Randolph St., is part of Rivian’s plan to open 10 stores across the country this year, the company said. The automaker, whose assembly plant is in Normal, previously disclosed plans to move into a movie theater it is renovating in Laguna Beach, California.
“As we prepare to deliver our first vehicles this summer, we’re working to establish physical locations where people can experience Rivian in person,” Tony Caravano, Rivian’s senior director of customer experience, said in an emailed statement. “With a high concentration of Rivian pre-order customers, Chicago is a key location for us, and Fulton Market is a vibrant neighborhood and a great fit. Our vehicles are Illinois-built and we’re looking forward to sharing them with this community.”
The statement did not say when the Chicago store is expected to open.
$28 BILLION VALUATION
Rivian is valued at almost $28 billion before rolling out the first of its trucks, SUVs and commercial vehicles.
The company in January said it raised $2.65 billion from a group of investors led by T. Rowe Price. Amazon, which has ordered 100,000 custom delivery vans, was among existing investors that took part in the latest fundraising round.
Rivian also wants to sell to consumers. Showrooms such as the one planned in Fulton Market are a way to broaden awareness of the brand, as Tesla has done.
STARTING AT $67,500
Rivian took its first orders in November and expects to begin deliveries from its Normal plant, where the company said it has almost 700 employees, in June. Prices start at $67,500 for trucks and $70,000 for SUVs, which can be offset by a $7,500 federal tax credit for electric vehicles.
Irvine, California-based Rivian’s deal for Chicago retail space comes at a tough time for retail property owners, almost a year into a near shutdown of the economy because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
INTEREST IN WEST LOOP
Rivian’s interest the Fulton Market building was first reported by
Crain’s Chicago Business.
The three-story building, owned by Chicago-based L3 Capital, formerly was a MB Financial bank branch. L3, represented by CBRE brokers, has been seeking retail and office tenants to move into it.
L3 Capital’s other Chicago developments have included bringing the sprawling Time Out Market food hall to a building two blocks north of the space Rivian will occupy.
Fulton Market, just west of the Kennedy Expressway downtown, has experienced rapid change in recent years. The former meatpacking hub is now filled with restaurants, retail, residential high-rises, boutique hotels and offices including McDonald’s global headquarters and Google’s Midwest headquarters.
Contact Sierra Henry at 309-820-3234. Follow her on Twitter: @pg_sierrahenry.