Although Rivian is a startup firm, its Central Illinois plant is experienced at motor vehicle assembly. The Normal plant used to make Diamond-Star cars for Mitsubishi Motors. The electric delivery vans will be operated under the firm’s Amazon Prime identity trademark, and will carry goods from Amazon warehouses for home delivery. The first vans will go into operation in 2021, and the current goal is to operate 100,000 Rivian-made vans under the Amazon Prime name by 2024.
Rivian is entering the electric vehicle market with a different business model from the better-known Tesla Motors. While Tesla has entered the roadster/sedan market, the Michigan-based Rivian has gone directly into light trucks. In November 2018, Rivian debuted electric-powered sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) and pickup trucks. Their light-truck chassis has found favor with Amazon. The online retailing firm’s controlling owner, Jeff Bezos, has said he wants to reduce Amazon’s significant carbon footprint. The Amazon/Rivian announcement was made on Thursday, September 19.