Truck-makers Rivian, Lion urge Pritzker to speed phaseout of gas and diesel-fuel engines

Sixteen businesses wrote the governor, an electric vehicles cheerleader, urging him to be more aggressive about eliminating fossil fuels.

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Amazon drivers walk near the stage at a South Side warehouse during a July launch event announcing new electric vans made in Illinois by Rivian.

Amazon drivers walk near the stage at a South Side warehouse during a July launch event announcing new electric vans made in Illinois by Rivian.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

Two electric truck makers with Illinois operations are pressuring Gov. J.B. Pritzker to commit to more aggressive state policies that phase out large gas and diesel-engine vehicles.

Rivian, with almost 6,000 employees in Normal, and Lion Electric, which is beginning to build electric school buses in Joliet, along with 14 other businesses connected to electric vehicles and clean energy, sent a letter urging Pritzker to set specific targets for eliminating polluting trucks, buses and other large vehicles.

Pritzker has touted electric vehicles as a major economic opportunity for Illinois, and last year signed into law new tax credits and other incentives to bring more manufacturing to the state, promising “thousands of jobs.”

In a letter to the governor Thursday, the businesses asked Pritzker to go further and commit to a dramatic decrease in the sale of diesel vehicles by 2030 and a pledge that by 2050 all new medium- to heavy-duty vehicles sold in Illinois will be zero-emission models. More than a dozen states have signed a nonbinding agreement stating those goals, but so far, Pritzker has decided not to join them.

“To further commit Illinois to an electrified transportation future, we encourage you to join states and governors around the country in committing to a clean transportation future,” Rivian and other businesses said in their letter to Pritzker. That, they added, “will demonstrate regional and national leadership, deliver on campaign promises and generate massive economic, public health and environmental benefits for Illinois.”

Last week, more than 130 doctors, nurses and other health care professionals sent Pritzker a similar letter, asking him to commit to the same goals for reducing sales of diesel trucks in particular. In that letter, they said the pollution is causing early deaths and illness.

Others signing the businesses’ letter, include EVBox, which makes charging equipment and announced its North American headquarters in Libertyville in early 2020. Lion just began making school buses in Joliet and hopes to eventually employ 1,400.

Pritzker has said he wants to encourage electric vehicle growth in the state, and he’s cheered on the job growth at Rivian.

In July, Pritzker’s top commerce official, Sylvia Garcia, helped announce Amazon’s first fleet of Illinois-made Rivian vans at an event on the South Side.

“We are in the midst of a clean energy revolution,” Garcia said then. “For decades, the flawed idea that going green stifled the economy dominated. This flawed idea dominated economic and business decisions to our country and our world’s detriment.”

Brett Chase’s reporting on the environment and public health is made possible by a grant from The Chicago Community Trust.


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