Rivian, the would-be maker of electric vehicles with an adventuring bent, was forced by the COVID-19 pandemic to halt the renovation and expansion of its factory back around the beginning of April. They even shared a video at the time, showing where workers had to leave things off.
With all of the established automakers reopening factories and starting production back up again last week, we thought it might be a good time to check in with the outfit behind one of the most anticipated electric vehicles – the Rivian R1T electric pickup truck – and see where they're at, reopening-wise.
We're happy to report that the company has begun the process of restarting its operations. While renovation work at its factory in Normal, Illinois had halted, other engineering and development work continued apace.
Though allowed to open without any restrictions, the company appears to be making worker safety a priority. According to a spokesperson, Rivian has instituted "a 4-phase plan to keep everyone who can work remotely at home."
The daily number of workers on-site will be controlled. Personal protective equipment (PPE), along with temperature checks, will be required to work at the plant. Rivian employees who are not comfortable with the risks are encouraged to stay home. And, unlike most companies, this won't mean forcing workers to make a choice between risking infection and putting food on the table. All Rivian employees continue to receive their full compensation.
The company even went out of its way to supply us with the numbers of workers involved at its Normal factory, which is being expanded from 2.6 million to 3 million square feet. Of the 335 Rivian employees it has in the area, 116 of them are on-site.
Besides these people, it also has a number of sub-contractors fulfilling their roles. Of those, 109 workers are doing work inside the massive structure, while between 120 and 140 people are toiling outside.
The pandemic-related halt postponed deliveries of the R1T electric pickup until 2021. It hasn't given an exact day yet, but since the shutdown was almost 2 months, we imagine a delay of the same length wouldn't be unexpected.