Rivian has layoffs at Michigan office, hires former Tesla execs

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The electric vehicle startup Rivian has let a few people go, though the automaker insists it remains in growth mode and has hired a number of new executives, including a new chief operating officer. The Verge reports that around 40 people are out of a job at its engineering and design center near Detroit, representing less than 2% of its nearly 2,200-member workforce.

The separations come despite an overall hiring blitz in the wake of billions of dollars worth of investments by Amazon, Ford, Cox Automotive and T. Rowe Price, among others. They also follow the company’s decision to delay the start of production of the R1T truck from December to sometime in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Ford’s decision to cancel plans for a Rivian-based Lincoln electric vehicle.

Rivian spokeswoman Amy Mast confirmed the number but told Autoblog the company remains healthy and focused on launching its products. “From time to time, it’s important for any performance-focused and fast-growing company to streamline its organization to improve effectiveness,” she said. “We made recent changes that impacted around 40 employees.”

Rivian has hired Rod Copes as its new chief operating officer to replace original COO Jim Morgan, a longtime friend and mentor of CEO RJ Scaringe who served in a temporary role and will continue to advise Scaringe. Copes spent 19 years at Harley-Davidson and comes to Rivian after more than five years as president of North America for motorcycle maker Royal Enfield. He joined Rivian in March, according to his LinkedIn profile.

RIvian has also made five other executive-level hires, including some Tesla veterans, and all for newly created positions. One of them, Matt Horton, comes from EV bus company Proterra to become executive vice president of energy and charging solutions for Rivian. Electrek recently reported that Rivian has been hiring people who worked on Tesla’s Supercharger program to develop its own network of fast-charging stations called the Rivian Adventure Network.

Meanwhile, Inside EVs reported last week that Rivian has restarted its work tooling and expanding its production plant in Normal, Illinois, with controls on the number of people allowed to work onsite, personal protective equipment required of all employees there and the ability to work from home with full pay. The company is expanding the former Mitsubishi plant from 2.6 million to 3 million square feet and had more than 100 of its 335 employees from the area working on-site.

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Saurabh Shukla

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