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Report says Rivian is planning layoffs, but impact on Normal plant is unclear

Due in part to supply chain issues, Rivian is only projecting to make 25,000 electric trucks, SUVs, and vans this year – inside a plant that theoretically can make 150,000 per year.
Ryan Denham
/
WGLT file
Due in part to supply chain issues, Rivian is only projecting to make 25,000 electric trucks, SUVs, and vans this year – inside a plant that theoretically can make 150,000 per year.

The electric automaker Rivian is reportedly planning hundreds of layoffs – though it’s unclear whether any of those cuts will happen in Normal.

Bloomberg first reported Monday that Rivian could target about 5% of its workforce, which has grown to over 14,000 people. About 6,000 of those people work at Rivian’s manufacturing plant in Normal, where electric trucks, SUVs, and vans are being made. The majority of Rivian employees work elsewhere: The company’s headquarters is in Irvine, Calif., with additional locations in Michigan, Arizona, Vancouver, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands.

Citing people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reported the job cuts could be announced in the coming weeks and be focused on “nonmanufacturing roles” and teams with duplicate functions. It’s unclear what that means for the Normal plant, where most (but not all) employees are working in manufacturing or adjacent to it. There are other types of workers based in Normal, including supply chain and logistics, IT, and customer support.

A Rivian spokesperson declined to comment on Bloomberg’s report Monday.

Rivian has been on a hiring spree in Normal since late 2020. The company has gone from about 40 employees in Normal four years ago to about 5,973 as of last week.

Rivian has quickly become McLean County’s second-largest employer overnight, superheating the Twin City housing market and drawing workers away from other local employers.

Rivian wouldn’t be alone in the EV world in cutting workers, if that’s what happens. Last month Tesla announced it would be cutting about 3.5% of its workforce, primarily salaried workers.

Also Monday, Rivian announced it would release its second-quarter 2022 financial results (April, May, June) on Aug. 11. Rivian became a publicly traded company in November.

Production began at the Rivian plant in Normal in September. It’s off to a slower-than-expected start, in part due to global supply-chain problems that have disrupted many automakers. Rivian announced last week that it produced 4,401 vehicles between April and June – a 72% increase from the previous three-month period. It says it’s on track to meet its 25,000-vehicle goal for 2022.

Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.