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Rivian’s CEO dons another hat, takes charge of product development

As the saying goes, if you want the job done right, sometimes you have to do it yourself.

Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe is taking the reins of product development at his electric vehicle (EV) startup.

As reported by TechCrunch, chief product officer Nick Kalayjian is moving to the role of executive vice president of vehicle engineering and propulsion where he’ll still report to the CEO, before transitioning to a product and technology advisory role.

The move was revealed in a regulatory filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

“On November 20, 2023, Rivian Automotive, Inc. (the “Company”) announced changes in the product organization with Dr. Robert Joseph Scaringe, the Company’s Chief Executive Officer (the “CEO”), assuming direct responsibility for all product functions,” reads the filing.

“The product reporting structure includes Software, Autonomy, Design, Vehicle, Electrical, Propulsion, and Programs.”

TechCrunch reports Mr Kalayjian will focus on the development of Rivian’s next-generation Peregrine platform, intended for smaller, more affordable EVs.

The company’s R2 line of vehicles is due in 2026, and will be built at a new factory in the US state of Georgia with an annual production capacity of 400,000 vehicles.

“Over the last few months, I’ve taken time to Zoom Out and have been talking with RJ to understand how my involvement could continue to allow me to have an impact while letting me step back from my existing role,” said Mr Kalayjian in an internal email obtained by the outlet.

“My desire to make changes aligns perfectly with RJ’s desire to redirect more of his time and energy toward Product leadership.

“I have never met anyone in my life or career who is a better mix of engineer and visionary product leader than RJ.

“I know that him spending more time working with our Product teams will create significant value for all of us and our shareholders.”

Other leadership changes include the company’s vice president of propulsion, Richard Farquhar, moving to the role of senior vice president of future R&D.

The company’s vice president of charging, energy and adventure products, Paul Frey, will also assume responsibility for battery development.

Rivian started deliveries of its first vehicle, the R1T ute, in late 2021. It subsequently introduced the related R1S, while it also produces an electric delivery van for Amazon.

It became publicly listed in November 2021, with shares originally priced at around US$78 and even briefly reaching US$172. By November 2023, share prices had declined to around US$15 each, though they’ve ebbed and flowed throughout the year.

The Wall Street Journal reported last month the company is losing roughly US$33,000 (A$51,000) on every vehicle it sells as it tries to scale up.

In just two years, the company reportedly burned through half of its US$18 billion ($A28bn) backing, and Rivian has continued to burn over US$1 billion (A$1.5bn) a quarter at the end of the June.

Though Rivian aims to produce 54,000 vehicles this year, its Normal, Illinois factory is only running at one-third of its full capacity, with analysts and former employees noting its vehicles are complex to produce and many of its supply contracts were signed at above-market rates.


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