Business Maverick

Business Maverick

Rivian Manufacturing Executive Departs in Management Shuffle

Rivian R1T electric vehicle (EV) pickup trucks on the assembly line at the company's manufacturing facility in Normal, Illinois, US., on Monday, April 11, 2022. Rivian Automotive Inc. produced 2,553 vehicles in the first quarter as the maker of plug-in trucks contended with a snarled supply chain and pandemic challenges.

Rivian Automotive Inc. is shuffling its executive ranks, including the departure of a top manufacturing executive, in an effort to help the Inc.-backed company overcome growing pains. 

The automaker is parting ways with Charly Mwangi, executive vice president of manufacturing engineering, CEO R.J. Scaringe said in an internal email viewed by Bloomberg News. Rivian’s new chief operations officer, former Magna International Inc. executive Frank Klein, will start on June 1, Scaringe said.

The reorganization calls for splitting the commercial business, which includes delivery vans made for Amazon, from the retail side of the company that produces the R1T plug-in pickup truck and R1S sport-utility vehicle.

“This is an important time for our growing business, all of which is happening in an extremely challenging environment,” Scaringe wrote. “We are well-positioned for long-term success, but we must continuously evaluate how we operate.”

Under the changes, many of Rivian’s senior manufacturing, engineering and supply chain personnel will report to COO Klein.

Rivian has struggled with supply shortages and manufacturing snafus since it began building its new products late last year. The electric vehicle startup was touted as a competitor to Tesla Inc. and became the largest initial public offering last year. But its shares have fallen more than 70% this year as it has suffered a series of miscues.

Mwangi, who had previously worked as an engineering executive at Tesla, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

“As we ramp production towards our 2022 target of 25,000 vehicles, we are confident these changes will strengthen our ability to more efficiently engage new and existing customers,” the company said in a statement.

Forest Young, Rivian’s global brand chief, will now report directly in to Scaringe. Rivian has positioned its brand as the Patagonia of electric vehicles — an Earth-friendly company that targets families seeking adventure. But the company’s also had reputation problems, most prominently an embarrassing series of price hike U-turns in March, which hurt the stock and the company’s image with some customers.

Despite the setbacks, Rivian has ambitious plans. It is building a $5 billion factory in Georgia capable of building 450,000 vehicles a year. That’s in addition to a massive factory it has in Normal, Illinois, that’s producing Amazon vans alongside the R1T and R1S.

Rivian shares rose 7.7% to $31.48 at 10:41 a.m. in New York, part of a wider market rally on encouraging US economic data.


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