Rivian CEO confirms layoffs could be part of restructuring to stay ‘nimble’

Rivian will continue to hire in strategically important areas even as it restructures its business and possibly cuts some jobs, according to an internal email from CEO RJ Scaringe that was sent to employees following reports the EV automaker was planning to lay off about 5% of its workforce.

The email, viewed by TechCrunch, provides a broad outline of the company’s previously shared strategy for the next 18 months “in order to stay ahead of the changing economic landscape.” That strategy is focused on four key areas: ramping production of its R1T and R1S vehicles and electric delivery van (EDV), accelerating development of its next-gen R2 platform, ramping EV charging and service infrastructure and “optimizing” costs and operating expenses.

Scaringe told employees that Rivian is prioritizing and stopping some programs, halting certain non-manufacturing hiring and “adopting major cost down efforts” to reduce expenses on materials and operations. Some of these have already occurred, notably hiring a new chief operating officer in May to lead the restructuring and alignment of its operations.

“Our team is the core of Rivian and we are working to be as thoughtful as possible as we consider any reductions,” Scaringe wrote in the email.

Rivian employs nearly 14,000 people across several locations, including at its Normal, Illinois factory, Irvine, California headquarters as well as facilities in Palo Alto and Carson, California, Plymouth, Michigan, Vancouver, British Columbia, Wittmann, Arizona and Woking, England.

The buzzy publicly traded company has nearly doubled its workforce in the past year as it set out to ramp production and begin deliveries of its R1T truck, R1S SUV and its electric delivery van, of which Amazon is its first customer. Rivian has said it’s on track to deliver 25,000 vehicles this year. However, it has had its share of struggles with supply chain issues and bottlenecks that have pushed out deliveries for thousands of customers.

Rivian has not issued layoffs. Although it’s clear from the email that Rivian’s management team has been working to assess whether to reduce the workforce. Scaringe said in the email that the company is working to “be as thoughtful as possible as we consider any reductions.” The company will always be focused on growth, but it is not immune to current economic circumstances, adding that these decisions aim to be strategic and long term, not simply to reduce costs.

Scaringe is expected to share more information with employees at its scheduled meeting this Friday.