NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — Following the launch of its first customer-ready vehicle, electric vehicle maker Rivian is ready to show off its products.
On Sunday, Rivian kicked off its “First Mile Tour,” an interactive experience that gave members of the public and media a chance to drive a Rivian R1T, the first fully produced electric truck on the market for consumers to buy.
The R1T features multiple modes for driving including sport mode, off-roading, and towing.
Two weeks ago, the first customer-ready truck moved off the production lines at the Normal plant after years of work developing the design. Rivian Vice President of Manufacturing Erik Fields said its long days and nights of hard work have paid off.
“That was a wonderful morning to have that first vehicle come off,” Field said. “All those hard decisions we had to make to get us to this point finally came to fruition with that vehicle that is going to go to a customer to say we’re truly a real brand.”
Rivian beat out other auto-manufacturers such as Ford, General Motors, and Tesla in becoming the first auto-company to have an electric truck ready for use by everyday drivers.
“EV is really the future, we want to do what we can to improve the environment,” Fields said.
Fields told a tour group Sunday that he has worked in auto-manufacturing for more than 20 years, but he said Rivian’s success and accomplishments are unprecedented.
“It’s history, never before has a startup company launched a plant and launched multiple vehicles in the amount of timeframe that we’re doing. It’s our culture and what we believe that enables us to do that,” Fields said.
On Sunday, the company allowed members of the public who signed up as well as media members a chance to get behind the wheel of a finished product and see where they are made. Normal Mayor Chris Koos said it was an unbelievable experience to see what goes on at the former Mitsubishi plant.
“It’s exceeded what any of us thought was going to happen in this plant and what they’re going to do with their product, how well it’s been received, it’s just unbelievable,” Koos said.
Koos was one of many in Normal to tour the more than 3,000,000 square foot facility and participate in the First Mile event on Sunday. He said Rivian’s continued success created a regional economic boom.
“We worked with a group called the Center for Automotive Research, which is an automotive think tank and they say for every primary automotive manufacturing job, there are 10 other jobs that are generated within the region, not within Bloomington-Normal, the entire region,” Koos said.
Currently, the Rivian plant employs approximately 2,800 people. According to Fields, the company is still actively hiring all positions throughout the company, including at the Normal facility.
Those who missed out on the first event can RSVP to attend a preview from Thursday, Sept. 30, through Sunday, Oct. 3.
Rivian will hold other First Mile events in New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco.