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Rivian confirms 6% workforce cut, but manufacturing jobs in Normal are safe

Rivian yellow truck
Emily Bollinger
Rivian has over 2,800 employees in Normal, becoming McLean County’s third-largest employer almost overnight. The plant began production of the R1T pickup in mid-September.

Manufacturing jobs in Normal will not be affected when Rivian cuts 6% of its workforce in the face of challenging economic conditions, the electric automaker said Wednesday.

Rivian on Wednesday formally announced what it called a “difficult decision” to cut hundreds of positions. That follows a Bloomberg report two weeks ago alluding to hundreds of layoffs.

With 14,000 employees companywide, the 6% cut would be around 840 positions.

“This decision will help align our workforce to our key business priorities, including ramping up the consumer and commercial vehicle programs, accelerating the development of R2 and other future models, deploying our go-to-market programs and optimizing spend across the business,” a Rivian spokesperson said. “We’re deeply grateful for each departing team member’s contribution in helping build Rivian into what it is today. They will always be part of the Rivian story and community.”

The precise impact on Rivian’s Normal manufacturing plant is unclear. Rivian is making its electric trucks, SUVs, and delivery vans in Normal.

The Rivian spokesperson said, “as for Normal, manufacturing was not affected” by Wednesday's announcement. The vast majority of Rivian’s 6,000 employees in Normal do indeed work in manufacturing, but there are others who don’t and might be at risk. The Rivian spokesperson declined to provide the number of non-manufacturing employees in Normal. Those workers are in supply chain and logistics, IT, customer support, and other areas.

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.

Rivian's careers website also had 161 positions in Normal currently posted as of Wednesday night, suggesting new hiring is still happening here.

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.

Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe told employees about the cuts in an internal memo on Wednesday, Bloomberg reported. Scaringe said that “surging inflation, higher interest rates and higher commodity prices have hurt the company’s ability to raise funds,” Bloomberg reported.

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

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Ryan Denham is the content director for WGLT and WCBU.
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