“Environmental Activism Shakes Up EV Manufacturing: Rivian and Tesla Face Resistance”

EV maker Rivian faces turning point with debut of cheaper R2 on March 7, 2024, at 6:00 am EST | MarketScreener

While many embrace electric vehicles for their environmental benefits, living in close proximity to an EV manufacturing site might not always evoke excitement.

Yesterday, Rivian, a competitor to Tesla, announced a significant shift in its plans. The company has decided to pause the construction of a $5 billion factory in Georgia. Instead, it will concentrate on producing its forthcoming R2 and R3 models at its current Illinois facility, resulting in substantial savings of over $2.25 billion in capital expenditures.

Despite the disappointment that may linger among politicians who lured Rivian with tax incentives, there is a sigh of relief among some Georgia residents residing near the proposed factory site, albeit temporarily.

Among those relieved is JoEllen Artz, who shared her sentiments with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution after Rivian’s announcement. Artz leads a group opposing the EV maker’s plans, citing concerns over potential impacts on local water sources. The site is situated in a groundwater recharge area, where many residents rely on private wells.

“Our water holds precedence over any electric vehicle,” Artz emphasized to the newspaper.

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Rivian clarifies that its intention is to postpone construction of the plant rather than abandon it entirely.

“Our Georgia site remains of utmost importance to us,” stated Rivian CEO R.J. Scaringe. “It plays a pivotal role in the expansion of our vehicle lineup, encompassing R2, R3, and R3X.”

Tesla Faces Sabotage

In Germany, Tesla’s inaugural European gigafactory recently encountered sabotage from activists who highlighted concerns regarding water supply. Identifying themselves as the Volcano Group, they set ablaze a high-voltage power mast on Tuesday, disrupting power to the carmaker’s plant and nearby residents.

Tesla has halted production until next week and anticipates losses nearing $1 billion. CEO Elon Musk disparaged the group on X, stating: “These individuals are either the most foolish eco-activists on the planet or mere puppets manipulated by those lacking genuine environmental objectives. Halting the production of electric vehicles instead of fossil fuel vehicles is extremely foolish.”

Last month, Stern reported on the environmental impact of the Tesla plant. According to the German publication, a local water utility discovered evidence of the factory contaminating the water supply with phosphorus and nitrogen compounds, surpassing legal limits by up to six times.

In the vicinity, residents voted against the expansion of the Tesla factory. Although non-binding, protestors have camped in the woods to hinder clearing efforts.


Rivian and Tesla are not alone in facing opposition to EV-related manufacturing ventures.

In Quebec, activists voiced objections earlier this year against a $7 billion EV-battery production plant proposed by Swedish firm Northvolt, established by two former Tesla executives in 2015. Protestors condemned the project as an “ecocidal disgrace.”

Similar protests emerged in Hungary last year against a Chinese-owned EV battery plant, constructed by Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited (CATL), with concerns raised about potential impacts on water resources.

Of course, protests against various planned or existing factories are not uncommon. In France, climate activists recently stormed a “forever chemical” plant outside Lyon, citing mounting health concerns among local residents.

The production of EVs and their batteries necessitates substantial amounts of minerals, leading to new or expanded mines grappling with their own environmental challenges in extracting minerals such as graphite, nickel, and lithium.

“The transition to low-carbon fuels isn’t without repercussions,” noted Sergey Paltsev, a senior research scientist at MIT. “There’s no free lunch. However, it’s significantly less harmful than persisting with fossil fuels.”

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