Rivian hires former Tesla executive as lead engineerAugust 28, 2020
The Rivian R1T will be built at Mitsubishi’s former plant in Normal, Illinois.
Electric truck startup Rivian Automotive has hired a former Tesla executive to spearhead development as an Amazon.com-backed debut electric vehicle during production, Bloomberg reported.
Nick Kalayjian, who has worked at Tesla for over a decade, will join Rivian as executive vice president of development. According to his Linkedin profile, he was most recently senior vice president of Plenty in San Francisco.
Kalayjian is replacing Mark Winnels, who until this week was executive director of development at Rivian. Winnels joined Rivian in late 2017 and was previously a McLaren executive.
A Rivian spokesman confirmed that Winnels has left the company. Kalayjian and Winnels could not be reached for comment. While Kalayjian is not a direct employee of Tesla, the move could exacerbate tensions between the two automakers as litigation is currently underway over Rivian’s hiring practices.
Tesla filed a lawsuit against Rivian last month, claiming there was a “disturbing practice” of stealing trade secrets. Tesla says four of its former employees took sensitive information with them when they went to work for an electric car competitor. In response, Rivian stated that Tesla was trying to scare its employees into leaving the company.
Several startups in the increasingly crowded EV segment have hired many former Tesla employees, including Lucid Motors, Proterra and Rivian. Many of these include executive positions. For example, current Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson worked at Tesla from 2009 to 2012 and was the chief engineer of the Model S.
Rivian is set to begin production of two vehicles – the all-electric R1T pickup truck and the R1S SUV – by mid-next year at Mitsubishi Motors’ former plant in Normal, Illinois. It has raised nearly $ 6 billion from sponsors including Amazon.com and Ford.
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