NORMAL (WEEK) - Some of this area's largest car dealers are suing electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian Automotive, claiming Illinois law forbids the company from directly selling pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles it's building in Normal.
Instead, Rivian should be ordered to sell its vehicles through franchised dealerships, according to a lawsuit filled this week in Cook County Circuit Court.
More than 240 dealerships, many of them from Central Illinois, and several trade associations also sued California-based electric car maker Lucid Motors and the Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White. His office is accused of not enforcing current law.
Rivian faces legal action as it prepares to begin assembly of pickups and SUV's later this year. The company recently said 890 full-time employees work at the Twin-Cities factory, with about 1,800 more to be hired over the next year.
The company plans to sell vehicles online and in showrooms.
Electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit. According to the lawsuit, Tesla reached an agreement with the state to sell its cars through dealerships, and that it can have no more than 13 dealer licenses at a time.
"Rather than complying with its enforcement duties, the Secretary of State has bowed to political pressure by agreeing to lessen its licensing requirements for certain new-to-the-market vehicle manufacturers – first Tesla, and now Rivian and Lucid – allowing them to directly sell new motor vehicles to consumers in Illinois without dealers," the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit went on to say, "Plaintiffs do not object to these new manufacturers doing business in this State, but they cannot be excused from following the legal requirements that all other manufacturers and their dealers have been required to follow for decades."
A Rivian spokesperson declined comment on the lawsuit. Secretary of State spokesperson Dave Drucker also would not comment on the charges. Drucker said staff is reviewing the case, and it will be referred to the Illinois Attorney General's Office, which will defend the Secretary of State in court.