Illinois electric car maker Rivian opens Chicago showroom in Gold Coast

Mark Rivera Image
Thursday, September 7, 2023
Electric automaker Rivian opening Gold Coast showroom
Rivian, the electric car maker based in Normal, IL, is opening its first direct to consumer showroom in Chicago's Gol Coast neighborhood.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Electric auto maker Rivian is opening their first direct to consumer retail space in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood.

Experts say the new showroom is a way for the company to announce itself as a major player in the electric vehicle market.

Rivian already has a massive assembly plant in Normal, Ill.

"This allows us to bring it directly to where they spend their time. So we're meeting the customer where they are. This is where people spend time after work. This is where families come on the weekends. And it's just a nice way for us to show up," said Tony Caravano, senior director of customer engagement i for Rivian.

Caravano said the new space is part of the automaker's plan to break through in the luxury multi-use electric vehicle space and beyond for current EV owner sand those who are curious, with the option to drive the R1T and R1S models.

"It makes it easy for them to access the team," he said. "It makes it easy for them to get a drive. It makes it easy for them to place a reservation so this is just a part of the natural evolution of the direct to consumer model."

"It's a great spot; you have lots of demographic groups passing that. You have lots of demographic groups passing that you've got night life. Of course you have other dealerships," said Joe Schwieterman, transportation professor at DePaul University. "Opening a location like this shows they want to go mainstream there, you know they're ready to reach out to new demographics. They're playing with the big auto makers lining up to show that their electric vehicles have a lot more uses besides Amazon delivery vans, and so forth."

But with plenty of competition from electric competitors a block away and high-end gas luxury brands, Caravano said the next challenge will be to scale sales and broaden vehicle offerings, even as new software updates improve existing vehicles monthly.

"The day you purchase it, you know when you leave that something brand new will come and it will continue to evolve to be a better vehicle for you to own," he said.

The showroom officially opens to the public Friday. It will be open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.