The UK government has offered a series of incentives to EV manufacturer Rivian in an effort to encourage the US start-up to build a new factory near Bristol in Somerset.
According to the Financial Times, which cites people familiar with negotiations, the government has offered to build a new M5 motorway junction, develop training facilities and reinstate a disused railway line at the Gravity business park near Bristol, where Rivian could invest £1 billion in a new factory.
The FT reports that the UK is in competition with Serbia and “at least one other European country” to secure Rivian’s investment and a decision could come within several weeks.
The site also reports that government officials have been in discussions with Rivian executives in recent days and that Rivian’s approval would be a significant boost for prime minister Boris Johnson’s ‘Levelling Up’ development plans.
Johnson is said to be “closely involved” in the talks, as are executives from Amazon, which holds a substantial stake in Rivian and has committed to buying 100,000 of its electric vans.
It is not yet confirmed whether Rivian would build batteries, vehicles or both at the site.
Rivian’s car line-up comprises the technically identical R1T pick-up truck and R1S SUV from launch. Sat atop a bespoke, skateboard-style platform, the duo are said to offer a maximum range of more than 400 miles, a 0-60mph time of just 3.0sec and impressive off-road ability.
They will be priced from the equivalent of £48,500 in the US and it could reasonably be expected for European versions to roughly maintain that pricing structure if localised production is secured. Given that large SUVs and trucks are far less in demand in Europe than in the US, though, it could be more likely that the factory would build local-spec versions of Rivian’s bespoke Amazon delivery van.
News of Rivian’s potential plans for a UK-based production outpost comes shortly after Nissan announced plans to drastically upgrade and futureproof its Sunderland factory with a dedicated battery facility and a new production line for a new electric crossover.
Stellantis also recently provided a boost for UK manufacturing with the announcement that the long-uncertain future of its Ellesmere Port facility had been secured: it will now build small electric vans for Citroën, Peugeot and Vauxhall.
If Bristol is chosen as the final location, Rivian’s factory will only be around an hour from the ex-Honda factory in Swindon, which closed earlier this year. Notably, the Bristol site in question has previously been linked to Tesla.