Amazon-backed electric car start-up Rivian has announced the closure of all its factories amid concerns about the spread of the new crown,media outlet TechCrunch reported. Rivian employs more than 2,000 workers at its plants, including its headquarters in Plymouth, Michigan, normal in Illinois, and plants in San Jose and Irvine, California, where engineers are working on self-driving technology. Rivian also has offices in the UK.
The company said Friday that it will continue to pay paid employees and hourly workers during the shutdown. Rivian told TechCrunch that most of its plants have been operating for about a week, or so, at about 2 to 5 percent occupancy. A spokesman for the company said it was not sure how long the plant would remain closed.
The Rivian didn’t show off its all-electric R1T pickup and R1S SUV at the Los Angeles Auto Show until November 2018. Since then, the electric car maker has attracted not only consumers and Bookings from Ford and Amazon, but also investors and commercial customers such as Ford and Amazon.
In December, Rivian announced that it had raised $1.3 billion in new capital, the fourth round of financing the company announced only in 2019. It comes after the company announced a $700 million investment from Amazon, a $500 million investment from Ford, which includes an electric vehicle technology partnership, and a $350 million investment from Cox Automotive.
Ford’s luxury brand, Lincoln, is working with Rivian to develop “new” electric cars. Amazon has ordered 100,000 all-electric delivery vehicles from Rivian, with the first deliveries expected to begin in 2021.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has prompted automakers to temporarily halt operations in Europe and the United States, where the disease has begun to spread. Automakers react differently to the pandemic. Some companies have taken action to suspend production faster than others. After A working group formed by Ford, General Motors and FCA and the United Auto Workers, Honda began temporarily closing all its plants in North America. Even as the automakers began to implement new safety precautions at their plants, as recommended by the Working Group, the United Auto Workers continued to press them to close them. New crown-confirmed cases in some factories have accelerated the closure process. Nissan and Volkswagen have also suspended operations in the United States.
Tesla has been a prominent sticky stalaun. But the company announced Thursday that it will close its plant in Fremont, California, starting March 23. The company decided to shut down operations there a few days after Alameda County officials issued an order to close all non-essential businesses. Tesla has also suspended operations at its New York plant. In addition, Panasonic will close its Tesla-U.S. joint venture superplant for 14 days amid concerns about the impact of the outbreak.
Tesla told employees in an email on March 18 that the company had “contradictory guidance from all levels of government” about “operationalability.” The company’s human resources department told employees in an e-mail that if their work involves producing, repairing, delivering or testing their electric vehicles, stay on to work.
But on Thursday, after meeting with county officials, the company announced it would suspend production. Some of the basic operations that will support Tesla’s charging infrastructure and its so-called “vehicle and energy services operations” will continue at the plant, where about 10,000 people would normally work.