On Tuesday, Rivian flew me, along with a number of journalists out to Normal, Illinois, to tour its factory. I’ll have more on that later, but what I really want to talk about is something I saw while I was there. As we were waiting for everyone to get there for the tour, a truck pulled into the parking lot. If it had been an F-150 Lightning or any other truck that’s sold in the U.S., that wouldn’t have been a surprise. Either Rivian was doing some benchmark testing, or, you know, it was just a regular employee driving their own truck to work.
But it wasn’t a regular truck. It was a Mitsubishi Triton or L200. A truck that very much should not have been there. If we were in a town closer to the Mexican border, that would have been one thing. Even in Los Angeles, it’s not completely uncommon to see Mexican-market vehicles driving around. But Normal, Illinois, is not anywhere near the Mexican border. Windsor, Ontario, is probably a seven-hour drive away, which isn’t that far, but Mitsubishi doesn’t sell its truck in Canada, either.
There’s empty space in the facility that CEO RJ Scaringe said would be used for something really cool. He also said it won’t be a side-by-side designed to fit in the bed of an R1T. Trust me. I asked. For some reason, no one at Rivian seemed to think that was a high priority for the brand even though it would be objectively cool. Building the Triton would also provide a nice cash infusion, which every startup automaker could use. And by having Rivian build the Triton in Illinois, Mitsubishi would be able to sell it here without getting hit with the Chicken Tax. So it would be a win for everyone involved.
Now, do I really believe my own wild conspiracy theory? Not really. But I want to. Imagine Rivian execs calling a meeting a few hours from now, freaking out over the fact that some idiot from Jalopnik accidentally figured out their plan. But also, is my crazy theory that’s backed up by no actual evidence really that crazy? Is there really no evidence? I saw that Mitsubishi truck with my own eyes. And if this isn’t happening, then how do you explain a foreign truck in the parking lot of a factory that used to be owned by Mitsubishi? Yeah, exactly. You’ve got nothing because my theory is the only one that makes sense.
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