Rivian Hires New COO Amid Turbulent Month

David Shultz

David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

An R1T in Rivian Blue at the main entrance to the plant in Normal, IL.​
Courtesy of Rivian

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Rivian is back in the news again—but at least this time it’s not for a pricing bait-and-switch, a lawsuit, or a tumbling stock price on the heels of a less-than-impressive earnings report. Today, the Irvine-based electric automaker announced that it has hired Frank Klein as chief operations officer, tasking him with improving Rivian’s vertical integration and scaling up production capacity at its plant in Illinois.


Klein brings decades of automotive manufacturing experience to the struggling EV manufacturer. He previously worked as president of Magna Steyr, an Austria-based contract automobile manufacturer that develops and assembles vehicles for other companies such as BMW, Audi, Aston Martin, Fiat and Peugeot. Prior to Magna Steyr, Klein spent nearly three decades at Daimler AG (now known as the Mercedes-Benz Group), where he oversaw the setup for the company’s plant in Kecskemét, Hungary.

“I'm hugely excited to be joining Rivian,” Klein said in a statement. “It’s a company creating industry-leading products and services that are helping to shape the future of the automotive industry. I share [CEO RJ Scaringe’s] vision and I'm looking forward to working with him and the team to drive growth and further Rivian’s mission.”

Since its $12 billion IPO last fall, the automaker has faced numerous supply chain-related issues and fallen short of production goals. The company’s stock has fallen from an all-time high of $179.47 per share to just $35.83 at Monday’s close—a decline that has led to a class-action lawsuit claiming the company misled investors about the feasibility of its pricing schemes in the run-up to the IPO. Amazon, which owns an 18% stake in the company, has reportedly lost upwards of $10 billion as a result of its position.

The COO position at Rivian has been vacant since December, when Klein’s predecessor Rod Copes retired. Whether Klein’s deep industry experience will be enough to lift Rivian out of its current woes, and allow it to compete with the likes of Tesla in an increasingly crowded EV market, remains to be seen.

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Spencer Rascoff serves as executive chairman of dot.LA. He is an entrepreneur and company leader who co-founded Zillow, Hotwire, dot.LA, Pacaso and Supernova, and who served as Zillow's CEO for a decade. During Spencer's time as CEO, Zillow won dozens of "best places to work" awards as it grew to over 4,500 employees, $3 billion in revenue, and $10 billion in market capitalization. Prior to Zillow, Spencer co-founded and was VP Corporate Development of Hotwire, which was sold to Expedia for $685 million in 2003. Through his startup studio and venture capital firm, 75 & Sunny, Spencer is an active angel investor in over 100 companies and is incubating several more.

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Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

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