With its $12 billion IPO in the rearview mirror, fast-growing electric truck maker Rivian is looking to plug into the Richmond market.
The California-based company, which went public this month in a massive stock offering and began delivering its first vehicles to consumers in September, has three Virginia facilities in the works, including one just west of Scott’s Addition.
That’s according to recent filings the company submitted to the Virginia DMV, which oversees Rivian’s application to set up shop in the commonwealth.
The application states that Rivian has a “dealership” in the works at 2289 Dabney Road. It’s a 15,000-square-foot building formerly occupied by Groome Transportation in a mostly industrial area near Strangeways Brewing.
While described in the DMV documents as a dealership, the facility would be more of a service center because Rivian operates on a direct-to-consumer sales model. Similar to its all-electric car rival Tesla, Rivian allows customers to order vehicles online and have them shipped. Their facilities don’t stock inventories like traditional car dealers, and are primarily for service.
Rivian has posted job listings for the Richmond location. It’s looking to hire field specialists, vehicle operations specialists, field service advisors and field service technicians.
The company would not comment on a timeline for opening the Dabney Road facility or exactly how many employees it is looking to hire for its launch. It also declined to provide details about its planned renovations for the building.
Rivian appears to be leasing the building, as it remains owned by an entity tied to Groome’s CEO Vince Groome.
Rivian said in its DMV application it also is in negotiations for a dealership in South Hill and is still searching for a spot in Northern Virginia, with an eye on Fairfax or Arlington.
DMV approval is needed for Rivian because it is a manufacturer trying to sell direct to consumers. Such a model falls outside traditional auto dealer franchise laws in the state.
Tesla went through a similar regulatory hurdle while opening its Richmond-area location several years ago. The Elon Musk-led company was met with an ultimately unsuccessful legal challenge from the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association and several local dealers that were threatened by Tesla’s approach.
Rivian, in its application to the DMV, points out that the precedent for what it’s looking to do here has already been set.
“In Virginia, consumer preference for the direct to customer sales model has already been established as the vast majority of electric vehicles sold in the Commonwealth have been from direct sales.”
Rivian’s next step in the process is to pass muster at a formal DMV evidentiary hearing at 10 a.m. Dec. 9 at the DMV headquarters at 2300 W. Broad St.
The three pending Virginia locations are among more than 70 service centers the company plans to open in the coming years in the U.S. and Canada.
That ramp up comes as the company successfully began shipping its first vehicles to customers in September.
The first off the line is its R1T pickup truck, which has a range of around 300 miles per battery charge and a starting price of $67,000. It also is selling its R1S SUV, which starts at $70,000, and is developing an all-electric delivery truck for Amazon. All Rivian vehicles are produced at its factory in Normal, Illinois.
Amazon, as well as Ford Motor Co., are among Rivian’s biggest investors.
The company has around 9,700 employees and has opened five service center locations nationwide thus far, along with a retail hub in California. The first location opened in El Segundo, California.