In Virginia, an electric vehicle startup intends to open 3 service centers, one of which will be in Henrico County

Three service centers, including one in Richmond, are being planned by a California-based manufacturer of electric pickup trucks as well as other vehicles. Rivian Automotive LLC, a startup that recently completed an initial public offering of its stock, plans to locate one of the facilities that are located at 2289 Dabney Road, which is in Henrico County, in a 15,000-square-foot space that was previously occupied by Groome Transportation.

For Southside Virginia, the company is looking at areas in South Hill, and for Northern Virginia, it is looking at locations in Fairfax or Arlington County. According to a company spokesperson, the new centers will not be dealerships where Rivian will sell customers cars, but instead repair shops where customers can get their cars serviced.

Rivian is a battery-powered pickup truck and SUV manufacturer that was founded in 2009. The firm sells its automobiles online and delivers them to customers, but a spokesperson said the company is planning to open 70 service centers across the country. The Virginia Automobile Dealers Association, a powerful trade group that is composed of independent dealers that initially opposed Tesla Inc.’s move to open dealerships in the state, will not oppose the company’s decision to open service centers in Virginia.

The Virginia Automobile Dealers Association’s president and CEO, Don Hall, said, “We’re not going to have a stand on their ability to be able to sell directly in the commonwealth.” “However, we will keep pushing to ensure that they follow the same set of rules that we do.” Rivian has filed an application with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, requesting an “eligibility determination to be both a franchise dealer and a manufacturer in the state.” The DMV head offices located at 2300 W. Broad St. in Richmond will hold a hearing on December 9 at 10 a.m.

Under the state law which requires carmakers to sell vehicles via independent dealerships unless there is no dealership that is available in a community “in a manner consistent with the public interest,” the automobile dealers’ group had previously challenged Tesla’s right to open several stores in Virginia, including one in western Henrico.

After an appeals court ruled that VADA lacked standing to challenge the DMV’s decision to permit Tesla to sell its vehicles through its stores, the trade group decided to drop its lawsuits. VADA, on the other hand, has written to the DMV, protesting Tesla and other electric car manufacturers’ advertising practices. As new models of battery-powered cars enter the marketplace, Hall believes traditional dealerships can be able to compete with the electric car makers.

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