Rivian hires former Porsche Cars North America CEO as COO to steer business growth


EV maker Rivian (RIVN) announced Friday it has hired Dr. Kjell Gruner as chief commercial officer (COO) and president of business growth. Gruner brings over 25 years of auto experience to Rivian, most recently serving as CEO of Porsche Cars North America.

Rivian hires ex-Porsche, Mercedes-Benz exec as COO

Gruner started at Rivian on Friday and will report directly to CEO RJ Scaringe. He will oversee the EV maker’s commercial operations, such as sales, marketing, delivery, service, fleet, and delivery.

The executive has over 25 years of experience, including at Porsche and Mercedes-Benz/Daimler.

Before joining Porsche Cars North America, Gruner was Porsche’s global vice president of marketing and chief marketing officer. At Porsche, Gruner oversaw global brand development, including marketing and product.

Prior to that, Gruner worked as the director of strategy at Mercedes-Benz Cars for over six years. He also serves on the board of LiveWire, the electric motorcycle division of Harley-Davidson.

Scaringe commented on the hiring, saying:

We are very happy to welcome Kjell to the Rivian team as Chief Commercial Officer and President, Business Growth. We will rely on Kjell’s talent and experience as we position ourselves for growth domestically and internationally, the launch of a new platform in R2 at a new facility, and the continued success of our commercial vehicle line. I look forward to working closely together as we tackle this next great wave of opportunity.

Gruner joins Rivian at a critical time as the EV maker ramps up production and works to increase profitability.

Rivian R1S (Source: Rivian)

Rivian crushed expectations in the second quarter, delivering 12,640 models while producing 13,992 EVs at its Normal, Illinois facility. In addition, its electric delivery vans, used by Amazon, arrived in Europe in July, spearheading the EV maker’s international expansion.

The EV maker introduced its in-house Enduro drive units, with Rivian’s cheaper “Dual Motor” and “Performance Dual Motor” appearing in the R1 shop in July.

Rivian EDV for European markets (Source: Rivian)

The new in-house components are helping to streamline production while reducing expenses. Rivian said the Enduro drive units and LFP battery packs have reduced input costs on its EDV by roughly 25%.

Rivian’s gross profit per vehicle improved by $35,000 during the second quarter as the EV maker worked to increase profitability.

Rivian R1T (Source: Rivian)

Overall, the EV maker’s losses continue to shrink with a net loss of (-$1.12 billion) in Q2 compared to (-$1.7 billion) last year and (-$1.4 billion) last quarter. After the strong performance, Rivian raised its production guidance for the year to 52,000 units.

Electrek’s Take

Gruner is joining Rivian as the EV maker hits a “turning point” in production. Wedbush analyst Dan Ives, known for his Tesla coverage, said Rivian was hitting “a major turning point” after Q2, raising his price target as a result.

More recently, Ives said he sees Rivian as “one of the core EV players over the next decade.” Gruner brings valuable marketing and brand development experience from Porsche and Mercedes-Benz that can help Rivian as it expands the brand during a crucial period.