Could Rivian Build The Mitsubishi Triton So It Can Be Sold In The U.S?

(Disclaimer: This shitpost was originally published last week because I didn’t pay close enough attention to the details of the embargo and thought it would be fine. It was not, and for that, I apologize. But now that the embargo has been lifted, it has returned as a very real conspiracy theory that you should definitely believe.)

Last Tuesday, Rivian flew me, along with a number of journalists out to Normal, Illinois, to tour its factory. You can read more on that here, but what I really want to talk about is something I saw while I was there. As we were waiting for everyone to get there for the tour, a truck pulled into the parking lot. If it had been an F-150 Lightning or any other truck that’s sold in the U.S., that wouldn’t have been a surprise. Either Rivian was doing some benchmark testing, or, you know, it was just a regular employee driving their own truck to work.

But it wasn’t a regular truck. It was a Mitsubishi Triton or L200. A truck that very much should not have been there. If we were in a town closer to the Mexican border, that would have been one thing. Even in Los Angeles, it’s not completely uncommon to see Mexican-market vehicles driving around. But Normal, Illinois, is not anywhere near the Mexican border. Windsor, Ontario, is probably a seven-hour drive away, which isn’t that far, but Mitsubishi doesn’t sell its truck in Canada, either.

You’d think that would be a mystery worth investigating or that the person who imported it would be pretty well-known since they, you know, own a truck they’re not supposed to have. Surely, someone would at least want to go take a look at it with me, right? Wrong. No one ever tried to convince me that I didn’t see what I clearly saw with my own eyes, but I never got a reaction much beyond, “Huh, that’s interesting.” One person even brushed off my question by saying a lot of employees drive Mitsubishis.

If the Mitsubishi in question was a car that’s actually sold in this country, that would be one thing. But, “I’m sure a factory worker just bought it,” isn’t much of an explanation when you can’t just buy a Triton in the U.S. It has to be here for a reason, and there absolutely has to be a story behind it. Sadly, I didn’t get a photo because, by the time I was ready to snap on on my phone’s camera, the Triton had been moved from its parking place. Did the owner simply leave for lunch? Or was it moved because I noticed something I wasn’t supposed to notice?

Now, I’m willing to accept that perhaps an employee has family in Mexico and was able to get a truck bought there into the U.S. somehow if that’s actually the case. But what if there’s another explanation? What if (and I need to be clear here, I have no other evidence to support this essentially baseless theory) Rivian is in talks with Mitsubishi to build the new Triton in the former Mitsubishi factory that Rivian owns? I definitely think it should.

There’s empty space in the facility that CEO RJ Scaringe said would be used for something really cool. He also said it won’t be a side-by-side designed to fit in the bed of an R1T. Trust me. I asked. For some reason, no one at Rivian seemed to think that was a high priority for the brand even though it would be objectively cool. Building the Triton would also provide a nice cash infusion, which every startup automaker could use. And by having Rivian build the Triton in Illinois, Mitsubishi would be able to sell it here without getting hit with the Chicken Tax. So it would be a win for everyone involved.

Now, do I really believe my own wild conspiracy theory? Not really. But I want to. Imagine Rivian execs calling a meeting a few hours from now, freaking out over the fact that some idiot from Jalopnik accidentally figured out their plan. But also, is my crazy theory that’s backed up by no actual evidence really that crazy? Is there really no evidence? I saw that Mitsubishi truck with my own eyes. And if this isn’t happening, then how do you explain a foreign truck in the parking lot of a factory that used to be owned by Mitsubishi? Yeah, exactly. You’ve got nothing because my theory is the only one that makes sense.

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