Several top Rivian executives depart the electric vehicle startup


Gary Gastelu tests Rivian’s R1S electric SUV

Fox News Digital automotive editor Gary Gastelu joins ‘Varney & Co.’ to discuss Rivian Automotive beginning delivery of its R1S electric SUV.

Several top executives at Rivian Automotive Inc., including the vice president overseeing body engineering and its head of supply chain, have left the EV startup in recent months, as the company exits a year in which it fell short of its production targets.

The departures, confirmed by a Rivian spokeswoman, are the latest developments in what has been a challenging period for Rivian, which has been rolling out its first all-electric models, but last year missed a critical milestone of manufacturing 25,000 vehicles. The company said it was off its goal by about 700 vehicles in part because of difficulty getting parts. 

Rivian’s stock has also tumbled since its blockbuster initial public offering in November 2021, down roughly 79% through Tuesday’s close. 

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The executives who have left were some of Rivian’s longer-tenured employees. Among them is Randy Frank, vice president of body and interior engineering, and Steve Gawronski, the vice president in charge of parts purchasing. Both had departed around the beginning of this year. 

Mr. Frank joined Rivian in 2019 from Ford Motor Co. Mr. Gawronski joined in 2018 from the autonomous vehicle startup Zoox.

Another early employee, Patrick Hunt, a senior director in the strategy team, left the company late last year. Mr. Hunt joined Rivian in 2015.

Rivian’s general counsel, Neil Sitron, departed in September after 4½ years with the company, which was founded in 2009.

The Rivian spokeswoman said the moves were made to ensure the startup has the talent and staff it needs to increase production. The company declined to comment on the individual circumstances of the departures.

"We continue to attract world class talent to our company as our business needs change," she said.


Large crowds turned out to look at Rivian Automotive’s R1S prototype during a public rollout of the company’s new vehicles in Normal, Ill., Oct. 13, 2019. (  David Proeber/The Pantagraph via AP / AP Newsroom)

The departures mark the latest shake-up at the top of Rivian, which has brought in new executives to oversee the company’s manufacturing operations. The company’s first full year of factory production was marred by supply-chain troubles and difficulties getting the assembly line to run at full speed.

Tim Fallon, former head of Nissan Motor Co.’s factory in Canton, Miss., was hired in early 2022 to run Rivian’s sole factory in Normal, Ill.

In June, Rivian hired Frank Klein as chief operating officer, from contract manufacturer Magna Steyr.

In a November email to employees reviewed by the Journal, Mr. Klein wrote that with Mr. Gawronski’s exit, the company was taking the opportunity to make some organizational changes to ensure it can support the increased complexity that the group will handle in coming years.

Mr. Klein added Rivian was reorganizing its supply-chain management, putting one vice president in charge of the supply chain and logistics, and another in charge of parts procurement.

He also announced that Rivian had hired Andreas Reutter from tool maker Stanley Black & Decker Inc. to oversee Rivian’s supply-chain logistics.


RJ Scaringe, founder and chief executive officer of Rivian Automotive Inc., unveils the R1T electric pickup truck, left, and R1S electric sports utility vehicle (SUV) during a reveal event at AutoMobility LA ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg / Getty Images)

The changes at the top of Rivian come as it attempts to transform from an upstart looking to raise capital to a mass manufacturer with ambitions to become one of the world’s largest auto makers.

Its first all-electric models, the R1T pickup truck and R1S sport-utility vehicle, are relatively new. The company has only been building cars at its Illinois factory since late 2021. Before then, it had never built or sold a single vehicle for retail. 

As part of its expansion, Rivian went on a hiring spree, growing rapidly from about 1,200 workers in 2019 to around 14,000 employees by the summer of last year and has only recently begun creating positions that exist at many companies.

In April, Anisa Kamadoli Costa was hired as chief sustainability officer from jewelry maker Tiffany Inc. In October, Rivian hired a former Capital One Financial Corp. executive, Diane Lye, as its first chief information officer.


Workers lower an R1T truck body onto a chassis in the assembly line, April 11, 2022, at the Rivian electric vehicle plant in Normal, Illinois. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images) (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images / Getty Images)

As Rivian has struggled to increase factory output, it has come under pressure to trim spending. Last summer, the company laid off around 6% of its workforce and cut spending on many of its programs. 

The company became focused on bringing production of its current set of vehicles up to speed. It also makes an electric delivery van that it sells to Inc. 

In an example of the young car maker’s shifting priorities, Rivian suspended negotiations with Mercedes-Benz AG over a proposed van partnership in Europe, which had been an expansion target for Chief Executive RJ Scaringe. Rivian said the decision came after re-evaluating its opportunities for growth.


The company reported a net loss of $5 billion for the first nine months of 2022, and its cash pile fell to $13.8 billion at the end of September, down from $15.46 billion in June. Rivian is scheduled to report its full-year results on Feb. 28.

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