Fledgling Rivian EV company faces layoffs, new bosses

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By James Raia

The much-anticipated debut of the Rivian high-performance, all-electric pickup truck is facing another issue. The company has laid off about 40 employees while also hiring several new executives. The Rivian, predicted to become a rival of the pending Tesla pickup truck, received global attention when prototypes were unveiled at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show.

The launch of the Rivian EV pickup train and SUV is facing more challenges.
The launch of the Rivian EV pickup trucks and SUV are facing more challenges.

With its massive investment in the start-up, Amazon ordered 100,000 custom-designed EVs from the fledgling manufacturer.

Rivian said the personnel cuts represent 2 percent of its workforce and were needed to streamline operations. The layoffs affect multiple departments, including engineering and recruiting.

The Rivian was scheduled for debut later this year. But the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Michigan-based company to delay its plans. The Rivian’s unveiling now won’t occur until 2021, but company spokeswoman Amy Mast said Rivian doesn’t have a specific date for a launch.

Industry analysts predict the R1T and R1S trucks, marketed with ranges of 400 miles per charge, the most in the industry, can challenge Tesla.

The trucks are scheduled to be priced at $68,000 and $72,500.

Rivian trucks will utilize a “skateboard” platform. It integrates the battery pack, drive components and suspension system.

Rivian had planned to begin production of its truck later this year at the former Mitsubishi assembly plant in Normal, Illinois.

Despite production delays, the company reported its employees will continue to work from home and will be paid during the stay-at-home orders at its facilities in Michigan, Illinois, and California.

Rivian notified customers by email it will detail a new production schedule when a clearer timetable for retooling the Illinois plant has been established.

James Raia, a syndicated columnist in Sacramento, Calif., offers a weekly automotive podcast and electronic newsletter, both available via free sign-ups on his website: www.theweeklydriver.com. He can be reached via email: james@jamesraia.com.

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Mike Sokol (@mike)
3 months ago

Remember, the first gasoline powered vehicles were expensive, broke down all the time, and had less range than a horse and buggy. Plus where could you find a gas station when you needed one?

We are at that same juncture with electric vehicles right now. Modern electric motor and controller technologies are up to the challenge right now, but the weak points of all electric vehicles are the batteries and recharging infrastructure.

So vehicles like the Rivian are for early adopters. Sadly I’ve been in contact with Rivian last year about supplying me with a test vehicle for a month to test small RV towing ability, but once COVID-19 hit that discussion quickly died. I’ve now sent a pitch to GMC about getting one of their new Hummers for a month of testing as soon as one is available. We shall see….

At some point battery technology will advance to the point where an electric vehicle can compete with gasoline and diesel vehicles on mileage, performance and cost to purchase. When that happens then the entire game will change.

Captn John
3 months ago

Nothing but a millennial mom grocery getter. Will their feelings for green overcome UGLY?

Steve F
3 months ago

Beside the high price, presumed low towing capacity, and distance it can travel, the thing is ugly!

TPalmer
3 months ago

Funny, as long as the employees are working from home, you can guarantee there will be zero production happening.
They’ll never get a truck assembled that way.

Rich K.
3 months ago

Make the price equivalent to a fossil fuel powered pickup, and make sure it has decent towing capability and long distance capability, and it MIGHT be worth it.

Donald N Wright
3 months ago

Kiss of death, fire the employees and hire more layers of management.