In a boost for the state, Rivian picks Georgia for $5 billion electric vehicle plant

Rivian is investing $5 billion in a new electric vehicle plant about an hour east of Atlanta.

Emil Moffatt/WABE News

A $5 billion electric truck plant is coming to Georgia.

Rivian Automotive will build its new battery and assembly plant about an hour east of Atlanta.

The company says it will employ 7,500 people. Gov. Brian Kemp made the announcement Thursday afternoon just outside the state Capitol building.

“Today is also about Georgia’s emerging leadership role in a booming, innovative industry that will benefit our state and our citizens for generations to come,” said Kemp.

Rivian offered the first electric pickup truck for sale in the U.S. And though they’ve only produced a few hundred trucks so far — the company is valued more than Ford Motor Company. Amazon has already committed to buying 100,000 Rivian delivery vans.

Helen Russell, Rivian’s chief people officer, represented the company at the announcement.

“We couldn’t be more excited to be here today in Georgia to announce Rivian’s decision to come here because that allows me and my team and Rivian to capitalize on the depth and breadth of talent that exists here in Georgia,” she said.

The trend toward electric vehicles comes as the transportation sector continues to be the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions nationwide. Shifting to electric vehicles is a key part of the federal government’s plan to address climate change.

“Rivian exists to combat climate change,” said Russell. “And under our mission to keep the world adventurous forever, we see the planet as a key stakeholder.”

The announcement also represents the largest economic deal in the state’s history. Terms of the economic incentive package that Rivian will receive from the state have not yet been made public.

“There’s a lot of states that can give cash incentives and other things,” said Kemp. “But if you don’t have a good site, if you don’t have good logistics and if you especially don’t have a good workforce, none of that matters. And what I sold to them was speed-to-market and workforce.”

Gov. Brian Kemp Thursday announced Rivian’s plans to build a $5 billion electric vehicle plant in Georgia. (Emil Moffatt/WABE News)

‘Truck of the Year’

Rivian’s electric pickup truck is drawing rave reviews, even if the company is relatively unknown.

Designers and engineers at California-based Rivian have been working since the company’s founding in 2009 on an electric vehicle that would be transformational.

With the R1T, Rivian may have won the electric truck race.

“Rivian beat Ford and General Motors — long-established brands with a lot of credibility and experience building pickup trucks,” said Ed Loh with MotorTrend, which recently named Rivian’s R1T its 2022 truck of the year.

“Against our criteria, the R1T is just amazing,” Loh said.

The company now faces the challenge of keeping up with demand at its existing Illinois plant until the Georgia facility can come online.

Georgia’s economic development commissioner Pat Wilson says Rivian could break ground early in 2022. He says cars could begin coming off the lines by late 2023 or early 2024.

But any production delays could wipe away Rivian’s head start in the highly-competitive market.

“Americans love their pickup trucks,” said Loh. “So Rivian’s entry into this electric vehicle space is huge, but we are also waiting for the shoe to drop next year when the Ford F-150 Lightning comes online.”

WABE’s environment editor Molly Samuel contributed to this report.