Mitsubishi’s old USA plant to go full throttle for Amazon
Remember when Mitsubishi and Chrysler got together and built a factory to pump out Mitsubishi-designed cars for Dodge and Plymouth buyers? Remember how Chrysler figured out how to make profitable small cars and Mitsubishi went on alone as long as it could, before throwing up its hands and saying “Okay, we give up”?
The factory in Normal, Illinois was acquired by Rivian to build electric trucks, an optimistic gesture given how far away from production they were; but the company, based in Plymouth, Michigan (where it has access to former GM, Ford, Chrysler, and even Volkswagen engineers), is well funded, and presumably wanted the plant to be ready when its pickup was.
The Rivian pickup is more like the Honda Ridgeline than a Chevy Silverado in size and shape; the bed is short, the passenger space is large. It’s as much a fashion statement as a real pickup in form, but the payload and towing capacity are quite serious. If you can get your load to fit into the bed, it can certainly be carried around. As a trailer-tower, it should be quite fine, since the choices now are either a diesel or a gas-hog.
The basic platform can support more than just a pickup; an SUV is to come shortly after the pickup, and, most important, a special van designed for Amazon, which led a $1.5 billion capital round (Ford and Cox Automotive also participated).
The big news today is the Amazon van version, which will use the powertrain guts of the pickup/SUV (carrying the uninspiring names R1T and R1S) with a specially developed suspension and software. That version, just announced, will hit sales of six figures, with 100,000 vans arriving in 2021-2022. Amazon could add even more, as they attempt to displace UPS and FedEx while providing same-day delivery for its own customers.
Rivian has, so far, sold a total of zero vehicles; but they will likely hit 100,000 in record time.
Clark Westfield grew up fixing up and driving past-their-prime American cars, including various GM and Mopar V8s. He has ghostwritten auto news for the last few years, lives in Farmingdale, New York, and can be reached at +1.516-531-4021.