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.
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: email@example.com.