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Rivian Recruits a New COO to Scale Output

By George Paul

Last updated: Feb 15, 2023

Rivian has picked Frank Klein as its next COO after a three-month search to fill the shoes of Rod Copes, who retired from the position at the end of 2021.

Frank Klein. Image courtesy of Rivian.
Frank Klein. Image courtesy of Rivian.

Rivian has picked Frank Klein as its next COO after a three-month search to fill the shoes of Rod Copes, who retired from the position at the end of 2021.

Klein will officially join the electric vehicle (EV) maker on June 1 and report directly to CEO RJ Scaringe. At Rivian, Klein will build out new and improved operations processes and scale vehicle production.

“I'm hugely excited to be joining Rivian,” Kelin stated in a press release. “It's a company creating industry leading products and services that are helping to shape the future of the automotive industry. I share RJ's vision and I'm looking forward to working with him and the team to drive growth and further Rivian's mission.”

Most recently, Klein was the President of Magna Steyr, where he oversaw the Austria-based automotive contract manufacturer’s shift to electric mobility manufacturing. Before that, Klein spent 27 years at Daimler and held management positions in its Vehicle Research, Trucks, Cars and Vans divisions.

When Klein joins Rivian this summer, his first major project will likely be constructing the company’s second U.S. manufacturing facility. Late last year, the EV builder said it would build a $5 billion carbon-conscious campus in Georgia that is slated to come online in 2024 and produce up to 200,000 vehicles each year. He will also lead updates to Rivian’s Normal, Illinois facility to raise its maximum output from 150,000 to 200,000 EVs per year.

The Georgia campus is an essential aspect of Rivian’s plans to scale its output, as it will give the young EV builder access to a wealth of experienced automotive manufacturing talent. Georgia is home to manufacturing facilities owned by Korean automaker Kia and school bus manufacturer Blue Bird. Additionally, plants run by Honda, VW, Mercedes Benz, BMW, Hyundai, Toyota, Mazda and Volvo can be found just hours away in South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee.

Should Rivian poach workers from these facilities, it should save time on training and ramp up its production faster than if it had solely relied on fresh talent. An experienced workforce would also help avoid growing pains felt by other EV companies, including Tesla, which has faced quality-control issues such as uneven gaps between exterior panels and paint issues as it scaled its output.

Currently, Rivian plans to produce and sell at least 1 million electric vehicles per year by the end of the decade. The company began production in September 2021 and made just 1,015 electric pickup trucks, SUVs and delivery vans by the end of the year—185 vehicles behind its initial target.

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