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Rivian paused production earlier this month to hone its manufacturing processes, hoping to ramp up output to 200 EVs a week

American automaker Rivian reportedly halted its production lines in Illinois to fix some issues and streamline its manufacturing processes. After a difficult start to R1T production amidst COVID-19 and supply chain shortages, Rivian looks to hit higher output targets, aiming for 200 deliverable EVs a week.

Rivian is a new, but noteworthy EV automaker on the cusp of delivering its second of two flagship EVs in the R1S SUV. Currently, all of the company’s EVs are manufactured at Rivian’s first production facility, located in Normal, Illinois.

The Illinois facility was originally a Mitsubishi plant before Rivian acquired it in 2017, four years before delivering its first passenger EV. Since then, the automaker has already had two additions approved by the Town of Normal totaling 672,000 more square feet.

Those production lines got rolling at the end of last summer, as Rivian became the first automaker to deliver an all-electric pickup in September. While initial R1T production outputs averaged around 50 units a week, Rivian saw those numbers fluctuate the rest of 2021.

As a result, Rivian was only able to produce 1,015 EVs, delivering 920 of them. This news came on the automaker’s quarterly call, in which it admitted missing its delivery target of 1,200 EVs by a few hundred. The result was a tanking of Rivian stock – a loss of about two-thirds of its value after an absolute rocket of an IPO a month prior – the largest of 2021, and the sixth-largest in US history.

As we cap off one-twelfth of 2022, Rivian appears to have taken a pause to regather itself before attempting to quadruple its production output rate.

Rivian production
A Rivian R1T on display in Southern California

Rivian adresses production snags to operate more smoothly in 2022

According to people who asked not to be identified speaking to Bloomberg, Rivian halted its production lines for about a week at the start of 2022 to fix and improve its manufacturing processes.

According to those familiar with the company, one inhibitor to the production success of the R1T last year, was the SOP for its second EV, the R1S SUV. While some customer-ready R1S’s have been built, Rivian still has some pre-production processes to tighten up before its a full go.

Additionally, the automaker is still in the (production) process of assembling its electric delivery vans for Amazon, 10,000 of which are due for delivery before year’s end, followed by 90,000 more before the end of the decade. Like many businesses, Rivian has reportedly also had to manage multiple COVID-19 outbreaks at its Normal, Illinois, facility.

Following the brief intermission from production, Rivian appears to have addressed many of these issues and is looking to ramp up its EV output to 200 units a week. This news sent Rivian’s shares back up on Wednesday – all despite the automaker receiving its first big price-target cut from Wall Street earlier.

Rivian says it is back on track, but as we learned from 2021, numbers don’t lie. Streamlined production practices are crucial and are certainly a welcomed step forward, but there are a lot more manufacturing hurdles to overcome as Rivian looks to assemble three separate EVs in 2022.

The company’s current footprint in Normal will be able to produce 150,000 EVs a year by 2023, and expansions are already in the works to up that capacity to 200,000 vehicles.

A second facility should help too. Last December, Rivian announced an additional plant is coming to Georgia that will eventually produce 400,000 vehicles annually. However, Georgia production is not expected to commence until 2024. The site plans looks sweet though, hello adventure park!

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Scooter Doll is a writer, designer and tech enthusiast born in Chicago and based on the West Coast. When he’s not offering the latest tech how tos or insights, he’s probably watching Chicago sports.
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