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Rivian laying off 10% of salaried workforce as EV demand slows

Robert Channick, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Automotive News

Facing an industrywide slowdown in demand for electric vehicles, Rivian is laying off 10% of its salaried workforce, including a small number of employees at its downstate Normal assembly plant.

California-based Rivian has more than 8,000 workers in Normal, including about 7,000 hourly assembly workers who will not be affected by the layoffs, the company said. The startup EV manufacturer has about 16,700 employees overall.

“Team changes are the hardest decisions I have to make as CEO,” Rivian CEO and founder R.J. Scaringe said in an email to employees Wednesday. “Our business is facing a challenging macroeconomic environment—including historically high interest rates and geopolitical uncertainty—and we need to make purposeful changes now to ensure our promising future.”

Employees receiving pink slips will be notified Thursday morning, Scaringe said in the email.

Scaringe also discussed the layoffs during a fourth quarter earnings call Wednesday afternoon, putting the staff reduction in the broader context of streamlining operations as Rivian continues to refine production in Normal, and prepares to launch a new EV line at a second plant to be built in Georgia.

Rivian began production in September 2021 and builds its electric R1T pickup truck, R1S SUV and commercial delivery vans for Amazon and AT&T in a renovated 3.3 million-square-foot auto plant about 130 miles south of Chicago.

 

Last year, Rivian produced 57,232 vehicles. Its target for this year remains 57,000 vehicles as it navigates high interest rates, flattening demand for EVs and a planned three-week shutdown of the Normal plant in April to retool the assembly line for greater efficiencies.

Scaringe said the shutdown will accommodate a number of supplier and component changes that will reduce material costs. It will also improve the speed of production, he said.

“With that multi-week shutdown, we are making improvements…focused on line rate and the ability to run the line at a higher speed and therefore in a more efficient manner,” Scaringe said.

Improved efficiencies, Scaringe said, will position Rivian to achieve a “modest gross profit” in the fourth quarter of 2024.

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