ATLANTA — Georgia may get a new automobile plant and there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of the manufacturer. Rivian Automotive makes electric pickup trucks and is eyeballing a site east of Atlanta.
The company released a video showing a pickup truck spinning on its axis like a U.S. Army tank – made possible by the four electric motors that separately power each wheel of the Rivian truck.
They're currently eyeing a site at an industrial park near Covington where Rivian could locate a vehicle assembly plant.
The company already has such a plant in Illinois, but because the corporate giant Amazon has a stake – using its electric trucks to make deliveries – Rivian wants a second plant to make its electric trucks.
"Amazon has ordered like 100,000 of their vehicles. From that perspective I’d say they’re pretty legitimate," added Michael Leamy, a professor of automotive engineering at Georgia Tech.
In March, Rivian representatives parked one of the company's electric pickup trucks outside the state capitol. At the time, the company was backing a bill to allow it to open showrooms to sell its electric vehicles directly to consumers without going through traditional independent auto dealers. That bill is still pending, and faces strong opposition from the influential Georgia auto dealers lobby.
A new Georgia manufacturing plant would give Rivian a vaunted spot in the state’s political firmament. West Point’s Kia plant employs about 2,700 people. Kia and a Blue Bird school bus manufacturer in Fort Valley are the only vehicle assembly plants in the state.
Rivian would add a prestigious and tech-driven jewel to that blue collar crown.
"There’s a great need for electric pickup trucks. So, this will be a great boon to Georgia to be building these vehicles," Leamy said, citing federal regulations calling for sharp reductions in fossil fuels.
Like most big job creators, Rivian has been in talks with state officials about getting tax breaks to locate in Georgia. The sweetness of that deal could decide whether the company locates here or in another state.