The Amazon-supported EV startup Rivian has fired around 40 employees at its engineering and design center in Plymouth, Michigan. The edge have learned. The cuts that the company has confirmed The Verge, were carried out across departments and included engineers, recruiters and others, such as two former employees. The company has also hired a number of new executives and replaced its first chief operating officer.
Rivian was on a hype last year, fueled by investments of $ 3 billion from Amazon, Ford, T. Rowe Price and others. The startup currently employs just over 2,000 people, which means that the layoffs make up around 2 percent of the workforce. The former employees believe the cuts are related to the pressures of the COVID 19 pandemic, although Rivian says they were performance-based.
"From time to time, it is important that any high-performing, fast-growing company streamlines its organization to improve effectiveness," said Rivian PR director Amy Mast, said in a statement. "Rivian stays healthy, grows and focuses on launching our products."
Up to this point, Mast pointed to a handful of new executives that Rivian had recently hired. The company has a new chief operating officer at Rod Copes who has been with Harley-Davidson for 19 years and has come to Rivian from another motorcycle manufacturer, Royal Enfield. Rivian says Jim Morgan, the startup's original COO, will continue to advise CEO RJ Scaringe and that he first came on board as a placeholder until he found a permanent replacement.
(Morgan, who didn't immediately respond to a request for comment confirming this characterization, isn't the first C-Suite manager to leave Rivian. The company's first chief technology officer, former Apple and Intel manager Mike Bell, left earlier this year The edge reported first.)
Rivian also hired Matt Horton, the former commercial manager of Proterra, the electric bus manufacturer, to manage a charging department may work on its own supercharger-style network. Noe Mejia will support Rivian's service operations after holding similar positions at Lucid Motors and Tesla. Georgios Sarakakis, who has worked at Tesla for more than six years and has worked at both Apple and Waymo, is the company's new vice president of reliability technology.
Two other Tesla veterans were also hired. Charly Mwangi, a former senior director of engineering at Tesla, is now Rivian's executive vice president of manufacturing technology, while Cindy Nicola, Tesla's former vice president of global recruitment, is now Rivian's vice president of talent acquisition.
Whatever the reason for the job cuts, Rivian has felt an impact from the pandemic. The company has postponed the release of its first two electric vehicles, the R1T pickup and the R1S SUV, to 2021 and 2021 it was only last week that workers were brought back to his Illinois factory. Ford and Lincoln also canceled a luxury SUV to be built using Rivian's EV technology.
Update June 2, 8:08 p.m. ET: Rivian refers to its Plymouth, Michigan location as its "engineering and design center" rather than its headquarters, as previously reported.