Rivian, like Tesla and Lucid Motors, is planning on implementing a direct sales model that would circumvent physical dealerships and allow consumers to purchase vehicles online or via an app. This practice is becoming more prevalent by the day, and even Ford recently introduced a new online used vehicle platform, as well as a way for new car buyers in Mexico to buy a vehicle without setting foot in the dealership – though they are still buying the vehicle from a dealer. Now, however, Illinois dealers are fighting back against the direct-to-consumer sales model.
Both the Illinois Automobile Dealers Association and Chicago Trade Association have filed a lawsuit against Ford and Amazon-backed Rivian, Lucid Motors, and the state of Illinois as both prepare to open vehicle showrooms in Oak Brook and Chicago. Tesla currently has a license from the state to sell cars directly to consumers, however, dealers were under the impression that this was a one-time exemption.
According to the lawsuit, the state of Illinois informed Rivian that it would need a dealer’s license to open its planned showroom in Chicago, but the automaker has yet to apply for the license. Meanwhile, both Rivian and Lucid are taking deposits for vehicles online with plans on opening their showrooms in the coming months.
In addition to its Chicago location, Rivian also recently announced that it had signed its first lease in New York City, and it intends to open its first retail store there in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. The New York location will join Chicago and California retail stores, in addition to 41 planned service centers across the U.S.
Consumers won’t be able to purchase vehicles from these showrooms. However, the idea is to provide a physical location where interested parties can check out the vehicles up close, or potentially even test drive them, as is the case at Tesla locations, prior to ordering them online.