Jul 27, 2023 - Business

Exclusive: Rivian CEO on its new Georgia plant

RJ Scaringe, CEO and founder of Rivian Automotive Inc., on the pilot production line at the company's California headquarters. Photo: Alisha Jucevic/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe says the EV company's $5 billion factory set for construction east of Atlanta is being designed as a "fossil-free plant."

Driving the news: Axios' Alan Neuhauser sat down with Scaringe to discuss the plant, the company's new "green-charging upgrades" and Amazon's 100,000-delivery van order.

Why it matters: Rivian's planned 2,000-acre complex straddling Walton and Morgan counties will create 7,500 jobs and is key to scaling the company's popular line of vehicles, Scaringe previously told Axios' Emma Hurt.

  • State officials say the plans have already sparked a chain reaction of suppliers and other EV companies moving here.

Details: Scaringe told Alan they're doing things differently in Georgia.

  • "Things that have typically been done with natural gas — ovens and paint and some of the curing processes — we’re moving to electric processes," he said.
  • The facility also won't use natural gas for heating.
  • Rivian tapped Anthony Sanger to oversee the Georgia factory, its second in the country.

Catch up quick: In mid-July, the Georgia Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of residents' protesting the project's tax breaks, clearing the company's path.

  • The plant is expected to begin producing vehicles in 2026.

Between the lines: Rivian this week announced it will offer a green-charging upgrade with its vehicles, as well as a commitment to buy 100 MW of electricity from a sprawling solar plant in Kentucky.

  • Instead of funneling that energy to a factory — the traditional approach — Rivian is using it to zero out customer emissions with the bundled offer.
  • "This project will allow some of our vehicles to achieve carbon-free charging throughout their life," Scaringe told Alan.

💭 Alan's thought bubble: Rivian is taking an unusually holistic approach to the EV space — decarbonizing factories, cutting charging emissions and eyeing ways for its trucks to support the electric grid.

  • Those could open new revenue streams — but demand upfront capital and investor patience.

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