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CENTRAL ILLINOIS BUSINESS
RIVIAN TEST RUN

Watch now: Did you see the Rivian SUV in Bloomington on Friday? Take a look.

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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. 

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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.  

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Excitement surrounding Rivian's long-awaited launch continues to build with the company expecting to deliver its first batch of special-edition electric trucks as early as June.

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.

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Rivian downtown

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. 

Rivian is also developing a fleet of delivery vehicles for Amazon. The first ones rolled out this week in Los Angeles.

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

 

Contact Sierra Henry at 309-820-3234. Follow her on Twitter: @pg_sierrahenry.

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