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Rivian executive returns to McLaren

Rivian Automotive’s chief engineer, Charles Sanderson, has left the US EV startup for McLaren, his previous employer, McLaren said in a news release.

Sanderson, who joined Rivian nearly five years ago to develop its R1 vehicle platform, returns to supercar maker McLaren in the role of chief technical officer, McLaren said earlier this week.

“Mr. Sanderson will now spearhead McLaren Automotive’s new technology roadmap and product innovation strategy,” McLaren said. Sanderson’s previous role at McLaren was head of software development.

Rivian said Sanderson had chosen to return to McLaren.

A Rivian spokesperson said Sanderson was part of the product development team reporting to Nick Kalayjian, chief product development officer, who has a strong leadership team and deep bench of talent.

According to his LinkedIn page, Sanderson started with Rivian in June 2018 as vice president of vehicle integration and development, a role he held for 15 months before moving to the chief engineer job in August 2019.

Rivian launched production in September 2021.

The EV startup based in Irvine, Calif., has been struggling with manufacturing issues at its Normal, Ill., plant and has forecast output of about 50,000 vehicles this year. Originally, Rivian had forecast 2022 production at that level, but it produced just under 25,000 consumer and commercial vehicles last year.

Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe said on an earnings call last month that supply chain constraints are holding back production and making it difficult to ramp up a second assembly shift for the R1T pickup and R1S crossover. Rivian makes an electric delivery van for Amazon on a different line.

In the last seven months, at least half a dozen executives have left Rivian.

Among the departures are Randy Frank, who was vice president of body and interior engineering, and Steve Gawronski, vice president for parts purchasing, The Wall StreetJournal reported in January. Rivian confirmed the departures. The company also lost its chief lobbyist, general counsel and a senior strategy director.

The automaker has had two rounds of layoffs in the past year, each shedding about 6% of staff. The most recent, in February, included about 840 employees out of a total work force of 14,000.

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