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Via Automotive News:

Rivian hires ex-Tesla exec as top engineer, report says

Nick Kalayjian Rivian Tesla.jpg

Nick Kalayjian, new executive vice president of engineering and product at Rivian

August 27, 2020

Electric-truck startup Rivian Automotive Inc. has hired a former Tesla Inc. executive to lead its engineering as the Amazon.com Inc.-backed company’s debut electric vehicles near production, a person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.

Nick Kalayjian, who spent more than a decade at Tesla, will join Rivian as executive vice president of engineering and product, said the person, who declined to be named. Most recently he was a senior vice president at San Francisco-based Plenty Inc., according to his Linkedin profile.

Kalayjian replaces Mark Vinnels, who until this week had been Rivian’s executive director of engineering, the person said. Vinnels joined Rivian in late 2017 and was previously an executive at McLaren Automotive Ltd.

A Rivian spokesperson confirmed Vinnels has left the company, but did not specify how recently. Neither Kalayjian nor Vinnels could be reached for comment.

While Kalayjian is not a direct hire from Tesla, the move could exacerbate tensions between the two automakers with legal proceedings underway over Rivian’s hiring practices.

Tesla sued Rivian last month, alleging an “alarming pattern” of poaching employees and stealing trade secrets. Tesla says four of its former employees had taken sensitive proprietary information with them when they went to work for the electric-car rival. In response, Rivian filed a motion to dismiss saying Tesla was trying to scare its own employees from leaving the company.
Several startups in the increasingly crowded EV space have hired scores of former Tesla employees, including Lucid Motors Inc., Proterra Inc. and Rivian. Many include senior postings. For example, Lucid’s current CEO, Peter Rawlinson, was with Tesla between 2009 and 2012 and served as chief engineer on that automaker’s Model S.

Rivian is due to start production of two vehicles -- the all-electric R1T pickup and the R1S SUV -- by the middle of next year at a former Mitsubishi Motors Corp. plant in Normal, Ill. It has raised nearly $6 billion from backers including Amazon.com and Ford Motor Co.
 
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SRFlorida

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They do seem to be hiring a lot of Tesla's employees.
 

Babbuino

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It makes sense since they are the main car tech company. If you try to hire someone with experience on that field, then you are likely to find ex Tesla employees.
 

SpinDoc7

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Mark Vinnels’ sudden departure this close to launch concerns me a little. He seemed like such an outsize influence on the whole design and engineering team and he was highly visible publicly. Makes me wonder what’s going on behind the scenes that we’re not aware of.
 

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Mark Vinnels’ sudden departure this close to launch concerns me a little. He seemed like such an outsize influence on the whole design and engineering team and he was highly visible publicly. Makes me wonder what’s going on behind the scenes that we’re not aware of.
Reminds me a lot of Tesla in the early days. These shake-ups are always disconcerting. Sometimes legitimately so, but typically they're benign. The hope is that Rivian's core team and mission is strong enough to survive these hiccups.
 

DucRider

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Mark Vinnels’ sudden departure this close to launch concerns me a little. He seemed like such an outsize influence on the whole design and engineering team and he was highly visible publicly. Makes me wonder what’s going on behind the scenes that we’re not aware of.
Transitioning from the excitement of the development phase to production details can cause some to move on to other challenges.
 

Coast2Coast

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Mark Vinnels is a production guy - a program and product engineer at Lotus and McLaren responsible for bringing vehicles from development into production, and we know Rivian has other vehicles in development. So, my guess is there's a bigger (and more rewarding) engineering challenge somewhere else or there are personal or family issues we're unaware of.
 

ja_kub_sz

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Was reading about this and could also have something to do with his departure.

Definitely not good PR, true or not.

But again this is akin to early Tesla growing pains with leadership personnel coming and going and the rumors/claims that follow.

Screenshot_20200830-123203.jpg
 
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SpinDoc7

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Ok... yes, I saw this a few days ago on the Rivian forum on Reddit. I’ve been avoiding mentioning it on here for reasons: the Civil suit itself seems sketchy to me in that this Sr. Engineer seems to be the only one on the Long Way Up trip having any Issues. 2) The source of the original report is a right wing blog about Normal I’ll. politics that has next to nothing positive to say about Rivian. So beware of the source.
 

SpinDoc7

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Ok... yes, I saw this a few days ago on the Rivian forum on Reddit. I’ve been avoiding mentioning it on here for reasons: the Civil suit itself seems sketchy to me in that this Sr. Engineer seems to be the only one on the Long Way Up trip having any Issues. 2) The source of the original report is a right wing blog about Normal I’ll. politics that has next to nothing positive to say about Rivian. So beware of the source.
The fired engineer/plaintiff is also claiming he suffers PTSD as a result Of the trip and working conditions. Say whaaaa. Really? Ugh.
 

ohmman

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I'm sorry that I don't know the answer to this already (and can't directly find it) but what size pack did they use in these Long Way Up prototypes?
 

Babbuino

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I'm sorry that I don't know the answer to this already (and can't directly find it) but what size pack did they use in these Long Way Up prototypes?
I dont remember seeing the exact pack kwh, but I've seen them mentioning a range on the trip of 335miles. This could indicate that they were using the 135kwh pack.
 

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