Rivian Reportedly Considers Letting Go Of Hundreds Of Workers

Morning Dump Rivian Cuts

Rivian considers some cuts, Honda has a new CR-V, Lordstown Motors sees an executive shake-up. All this and more in today’s issue of The Morning Dump.

Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.

Rivian Might Be Making Some Cuts

2022 Rivian R1t 14
Photo credit: Rivian

While the Rivian R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV have garnered wide acclaim, the greater scope of things at the EV startup seems a bit less than easy. Bloomberg is reporting that Rivian’s thinking about laying off hundreds of workers due to excessive growth in certain areas. Now, excessive growth is generally corporate-speak for “we hired too many people,” so if true, this report makes some significant claims about scaling. Let’s hear what Bloomberg has to say.

The cuts will focus on nonmanufacturing roles, including teams with duplicate functions, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. The actions could be announced in the coming weeks, the people said.

The company, which has more than 14,000 employees, could target an overall reduction of around 5 percent, the people said. The layoffs are still in the planning stage and nothing has been decided. Rivian has operations in California, Michigan and Illinois, where its plant operates, as well as a presence in the UK and Canada.

It’s worth noting that decisions around any potential cuts are definitely not final. However, does the phrase “duplicate functions” raise alarm bells for you, or is it just me? Regardless, it’ll be interesting seeing how EV startups grown quickly under the context of easy market money will adjust to a new reality.

The New Civic Type R Is Almost Here

It’s really not much of a secret that I adore small performance cars. I loved the Fiat 500 Abarth, I loved the Ford Focus RS, and I adored the old Honda Civic Type R. Sure, it may have looked like an RX-78-2 gundam crashed into Honda’s Swindon factory, but all the lairy [Editor’s Note: I had to look that one up. – JT] aero bits looked just right in Boost Blue. However, despite the old Civic Type R being unbelievably glued-down, there was still room for improvement. Not only did Renault reclaim the front-wheel-drive Nurburgring lap time title, new blood from the Hyundai Elantra N, Toyota GR Corolla, and revised Volkswagen Golf R have put the pressure on Honda.

After months of waiting, Honda has finally given us the date we’ll be seeing the new Civic Type R. July 20, 10 p.m. EDT or 7 p.m. PDT. Mind you, that’s not all that Honda’s given us. Sure, teasers are generally dumb and terrible and hideously outdated (just break the internet by dropping the damn car), but this teaser gave Honda the chance to drop one extremely sparse press release calling the new Type R “The most powerful Honda-branded production vehicle ever offered in the U.S.” That’s a bold claim, especially considering how the Hondajet is quite powerful and a production vehicle offered in the U.S. Pedantry aside, it’s going to be interesting seeing how Honda has improved the Civic Type R with the new-generation car. Remember the old phrase, if it ain’t a Type R, then it ain’t a tight car.

Speaking of Honda

05 2023 Honda Cr V Sport
Photo credit: Honda

For more than a quarter of a century, the Honda CR-V has offered a perfectly cromulent way to transport lots of things and drive through a bit of snow. It’s more popular than the McDouble, selling hundreds of thousands of units in America, plus more worldwide. Hell, my granddad has one. Needless to say, the new CR-V is an important vehicle for Honda, which is why I’m actually covering it in brief. It’s only a matter of time before you’ll start seeing them everywhere.

06 2023 Honda Cr V Sport Touring
Photo credit: Honda

Honestly, I’d much rather see this new CR-V than the old one. It cuts a more handsome, squared-off figure with cab-rearward style and just the right amount of flair. The classic vertical tail lights are still here on the new car, although they also flow onto the liftgate like the lamps on a Volvo V60. Hey, it’s a pretty good look. On the inside, the new CR-V takes a massive step up from the old model, with an interior worth being proud of. Honda’s interior design mantra of “simplicity and something” may be absolute drivel, but the resulting work seems premium, refined, and classy.

07 2023 Honda Cr V Sport Touring
Photo credit: Honda

Arguably bigger news than the styling is the new CR-V’s powertrain choices. The turbocharged 1.5-liter engine from the old model is still standard, although Sport and Sport Touring models now get a hybrid powertrain with a naturally-aspirated two-liter four-cylinder engine, 204 horsepower, and 247 lb.-ft. of torque. Towing capacity for hybrid models is rather disappointing at just 1,000 pounds, but come on, when was the last time you saw a CR-V towing something? Anyway, expect the new CR-V to reach showrooms later this summer in gas-only form, with hybrid availability trailing a few months behind.

Lordstown Sees Executive Shake-up

Lordstown Endurance
Screenshot: Lordstown Motors

Hey, you haven’t forgotten about Lordstown Motors, right? The electric truck startup that bought the former GM Lordstown assembly plant, only to flip it over to Foxconn and subcontract vehicle assembly? Well, Reuters reports that it’s seeing a bit of boardroom reorganization, with nobody leaving but several roles changing. The big news is that former Ford and GM executive Edward Hightower takes the wheel as CEO. So what’s happening to the current CEO? I’ll let Reuters explain.

Hightower, president of the company since November, takes the reins from Daniel Ninivaggi, who will become executive chairman and focus on partnerships and capital raising.

Ah yes, capital raising. Given how the EV startup hype train is dying down, startups like Lordstown will need to spend quite a bit of energy on capital raising. Honestly, these don’t seem like bad moves ahead of Lordstown’s planned product launch. Let’s see, what other moves has Lordstown been making?

In its statement on Tuesday, Lordstown Motors also named Donna Bell, a former Ford Motor Co. executive with nearly three decades of experience in automotive product development, as its executive vice president of product creation, engineering and supply chain.

Ah good, another professional with actual automotive industry experience now making some big decisions at a startup. You love to see it. Truthfully, more EV startups could learn from these strategic appointments. More experience making cars is a good thing when you’re trying to become a profitable automobile manufacturer. Now, let’s see how this strategy plays out for Lordstown Motors.

The Flush

Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. How’s everyone doing on this fine Tuesday? Jason and I have been conversing via carrier pigeon about cars that were once everywhere but seemingly disappeared overnight. Cars like the first-generation U.S.-market Ford Escort and the Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera. I’d love to know, what’s one car that used to be everywhere in your area but is now rarer than hen’s teeth?

Lead photo credit: Rivian

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48 Responses

  1. When was the last time anyone’s seen a Chevrolet Corsica?

    Anyway the new CR-V isn’t exciting but it is cohesive and fairly good looking all around. Which isn’t high praise for most cars but I haven’t been able to say that since the second-gen.

  2. I wonder how long it will be before some of the EV-pickup makers decide to join forces. I’d love to pick up a new Rivi-town Cyber-Lord Lightning edition.

    As to vanishing local rides, I remember spotting the “dust-buster” GM-family mini-vans everywhere for awhile, but I think the last time I saw one in person was a couple of years ago in Celaya, Mexico.

  3. “I’d love to know, what’s one car that used to be everywhere in your area but is now rarer than hen’s teeth?”

    The cockroach-like GM FWD cars of the 90s have finally started disappearing quickly. 5 years ago you would still see Cavaliers, Sunfires, Grand Ams, Cutlass Cieras, “wide-track” Grand Prix, etc regularly. You still see a few limping along but time is finally taking its toll on the cars of my high school parking lot. Lot of GMT400s still going strong though.

    1. Building off my last point, it’s striking how much more durable the GM trucks of the 90s seem to be compared to their competition from Ford and Dodge. It’s rare to see an OBS Ford in any condition anymore, and any 94+ Ram is a clapped out 12V tuned to within an inch of its life, but here in corn country, an awful lot of GMT400s are still pulling trailers and working on farms.

      1. Around here the Fords are still pretty common – and all have a rust hole at the rear corner of the cab – but Rams have all been purchased by the redneck brigade so they’re painted in primer, rolling coal and most are upside down in a ditch somewhere

        But here’s the real question, when was the last time you’ve seen a pre-’94 Ram?

        1. Pre-94 Rams were pretty rare even when new. But you’re right, it’s a real surprise to see one now. I’d venture to guess I’ve seen more Ramchargers in the last year or two than old Ram trucks.

            1. You’d be surprised at how common 30 year old – or even older – work vehicles are, especially in rural towns. They might have dents or rust or the front bumper is a railroad tie, but they are actually very common and generally still in use with a bunch of crap in the bed.

              I live in a rural community, and I see 30 year old trucks – whether GM or Ford – at a rate that meets or exceeds a relatively popular new car like the Honda HR-V. They’re THAT common. GM is more common, but Ford is still very common here (unlike in v10omous’ neck of the woods). Pre-’94 Dodge trucks being so rare is notable BECAUSE their contemporaries are still very easy to find still in use.

            2. The entire point of my comments is that people are still using their 25-30 year old Chevy trucks for work around me, whereas almost all the contemporary Fords (both OBS and jellybeans) are in the junkyard and all the Rams (except a few ratty diesels) are iron oxide.

        2. I see far more 12V and even 318 pre 94 square body doges over the 95-2000 BIG-RIG looking ones. mostly I think it is because the dodge early attempt at slapping an OD gear on an old 3 speed was such a failure that even the aftemarket gave up on trying to keep them running. Diesel versions are the only ones left.

      2. I wonder how much of that is durability versus some intangible operator blip? The Rams are probably easily enough explained that the ’94+ trucks leaned heavier to the commuter truck market and as mentioned, got cycled through careless owners. Meanwhile, the GMT400’s are already being held up as a future classic in a way the contemporary Fords aren’t. It wouldn’t have much to do with keeping them going as working vehicles, but it might explain their longevity otherwise?

        1. I do see some “collector-grade” GMT400s, usually Tahoes/Blazers though. Maybe demand for the nice ones trickles down into keeping values higher on the work trucks as well?

          My personal (possibly biased) opinion is that 90s GM rustproofing was significantly better than Dodge and marginally better than Ford, and that the 350/4L80E combo is a better bet to be running well after 30 years than a 360, 351, 4.6 modular, or any other competing powertrain. But it’s also possible that my neck of the Midwest is just a stronghold for GM, and Fords are more common elsewhere.

      3. I feel like I see a lot of ’90s and older Ford trucks here in Georgia, but I am a huge fan of Ford trucks, so maybe I notice them more. For the Chevy, didn’t they make essentially the same body style from the late 80s to around 2000 or so? If so, maybe it just appears there are more ’90s Chevys on the road than other trucks since that body style lasted so long?

    2. Up here in the Rockies, it’s 90s Subarus that have emigrated from the streets to the junkyards en masse the last 5 years. When the entire Mountain Time Zone became a suburb of San Francisco, local fleets gentrified rapidly. I used to see old Foresters and Legacy Outbacks grouped up at every trailhead. Now it’s mostly new-ish Crosstreks and 4Runners populating those same lots.

  4. Rivian- We need to hire a ton of engineers to design 2 vehicles. Rivian hires a shit ton
    Rivian- why do we have a shit ton of engineers, when we have 2 cars designed.
    Rivian- sorry engineers, you’re getting fired. Look for us to be hiring when we need you to design the next generation car we might be able to make 10 years from now. That is if we survive that long

  5. Cars that you don’t see anymore?

    1) Tempo/Topaz. People hated these when they were new. Age likely didn’t help.

    2) Dodchryslermouth Neon. They drove great, but I think they all dissolved or something.

    1. Oh yeah the Tempaz was basically wiped off the face of the earth, but they didn’t ever seem to last very long. Like the first-gen ones were starting to disappear mid-way through the second-gen run.

      1. The paint was absolute trash on them and as such, they all looked awful after 5 years and then started to rust. The interior velour all started coming apart at the seams and the headliner started falling out of all of them, too. I’ve only ever been in a few, but the only thing I can remember about them is that it was always HOT in them.

  6. I really hope Rivian succeeds. Imo they have the best electric truck right now, it’s just damn expensive. Wish they had skipped some of the (what I would consider) frivolous stuff like a lot of their accessories and assisted driving features to come in at a lower cost.

  7. “It’s worth noting that decisions around any potential cuts are definitely not final. However, does the phrase “duplicate functions” raise alarm bells for you, or is it just me?”

    It super doesn’t. Because I guarantee you as a startup they hired a shitload of software developers, a shitload of website people, a shitload of engineers for R&D, and so on because “WE’RE A TECH STARTUP!!!”
    Well hey, guess what? Having 16 different teams building your infotainment leads to shitty infotainment, and having multiple different infotainment teams means adding complexity and parts when you could just… use the same infotainment with one cohesive team. (This is just an example that’s easy for people to understand. Insert whatever department you like in place of infotainment.) And they also spent an absolute shitload of money hiring people just to keep them away from competitors – especially since Tesla employees are stupid cheap (and stupid for being so cheap.)
    So yeah. A lot of functions almost certainly are duplicated. And they don’t have that sweet, sweet blank check from their friends on Sand Hill Road any more.

    I fully expect to see some executives (SVP on up) cashing out shortly after the layoffs, or being cashed out as part of them. But rest assured, they are not falling on their sword or ‘taking the blame’ for the layoffs. Their shares in the company are being cashed out, and over-hiring is being pared back because their stock price has beyond cratered (75% drop since IPO; high 106.65, currently trading 30.15,) because it turns out a business has to actually fucking make money.
    And as a car company, it turns out that unless you’ve got something neat to license to other companies or services to sell to them (like Rimac and Porsche do,) you have to … actually make and sell cars.
    Not refinement meetings and scrums and shitty phone apps.
    (Note that they said outright they’re planning to eliminate duplicates and non-factory, but intend to hire more factory workers. Again: gotta MAKE CARS if you’re a CAR MANUFACTURER.)

    Frankly I’m more surprised it’s taken this long.

    “The big news is that former Ford and GM executive Edward Hightower takes the wheel as CEO.”

    Actual translation, because you’re miles off the mark, Thomas. Edward ran GM’s global crossover business, so say what you want about BMW’s styling, he is OVERQUALIFIED for the job. But the other factors cannot be ignored. He’s been there as President for quite a while, too – he’s just now being promoted to CEO as well. He came in before Steve Burns resigned after being caught committing all the fraud. So he’s just picking up an additional title.

    Dr. Donna Bell really drives that one home. She is being appointed to – take a deep breath – Executive Vice President of Product Creation, Engineering, and Supply Chain. All one title. So she’s responsible now for creating products, engineering products, and securing supply chain for products. There’s “lean” and then there’s “overloaded to the point of ineffectiveness.” You can guess which this is.

    Which is also spelled out very clearly in their press release. Thomas, we need to give you a class on reading between the lines while also reporting facts. Quoth Lordstown: “With the recent closing of the Foxconn transactions and the launch of our new Foxconn joint venture, Lordstown Motors has shifted to a more engineering and product development focused OEM.”
    Translation: “the truck was always a grift, we knew damn well it was always a grift, and now we’re trying to get paid for what we actually have. The truck is not coming.” They blab about the truck totally coming later honest briefly. Then immediately move on to talking about reinventing the entire process of developing and manufacturing vehicles. No, I’m not joking.
    Again, a quote: “”The excitement of a startup appeals to me,” said Bell. “Lordstown, and its partner, Foxconn, have the potential to reinvent how vehicles are developed and manufactured. It is the ultimate challenge.””

    The reality whether or not people like it, is that these people are basically stuck trying to salvage a ‘company’ that was never anything other than a grift reliant on getting literal domestic terrorists to give them the GM plant, then pal around with them to promote something they never intended to build. That and all the fraud. Which is why the revolving door at the top.
    Daniel Ninivaggi did what he could, which was sell what assets they had for as much as he could get for them, and try to set something up that would let them be a going concern. Now he’s gone, having sold the entire plant to Foxconn. Who will be a ‘contract assembler’ (with no actual hard commit) for the non-existent truck. There’s nothing more he can do; his area of expertise is selling the business, restructuring, and bankruptcy. If he’s done all he can to restructure and they aren’t going to file chapter 11, he’s done his job.

    I don’t envy the people left the challenge in front of them. They have to try and turn something that was from day one a grift, into an actual legitimate company that has a chance as a going concern, while dealing with all the baggage. Remember; Lordstown was ‘founded’ by Steve Burns. The same one that was at Workhorse and promised the W-15 electric pickup in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. And the same one that sold the entire W-15 IP package including prototypes to himself at Lordstown for just $12M. That’s the ‘Endurance.’ An old Workhorse design that never even got prototyped.

    There’s no more VC money coming – getting caught by the SEC made sure of that. There’s no more nakedly corrupt sweetheart deals for basically free factories coming. Their visible intellectual property assets are minimal to nonexistent (half the truck depended on vaporware, the other half on now long obsolete technology that banner customer UPS very publicly abandoned as inferior.) And even if it wasn’t, it is hilariously outclassed by EV pickups you can buy today – there’s literally no point at all in even attempting to progress to a production model.
    But they might have a future as a consulting or component manufacturer at least.

    Oh, and folks who think Workhorse is in a better state… literally the only thing they’ve successfully shipped is vocational bodies on other people’s chassis. The C1000 they finally shipped in ’21? All 41 that shipped were recalled for failing to comply with US safety standards, then finally admitted they couldn’t meet the customer requirements, what few they might be able to build will be sold as trainer vehicles only, and the design is completely unsalvageable. (Oh, and that they’re also under investigation by the SEC and DOJ for fraud under Steve Burns. Whoops…)

    “I’d love to know, what’s one car that used to be everywhere in your area but is now rarer than hen’s teeth?”

    XJ Cherokees. This is Rust Belt territory – David can tell you why, but he’ll insist that it’s fine and he totally can fix the unibody structural rails with a Harbor Freight MIG using bailing wire, some duct tape, and those holes are totally fine.

    Which I suppose is why I’m eyeing a shockingly rust free one in purple. The trim is sun faded beyond repair of course, it’s definitely been in a front collision, but the rockers are clean as hell.

  8. I remember when Chevy Novas, Plymouth Volares, and their associated cousins ruled the roads. Everything from basic grocery getter trim to heavily optioned muscle cars. There was something for everyone, teenagers to seniors. Did someone pass a law to clear them off the roads? Poof, they were gone.

  9. It’s funny; the Pacific Northwest for some reason seems to be the Parking Lot That Time Forgot. Lots of cars around up here that have vanished from other places. Ford EXP? There was one for sale at a buy-here-pay-here lot not long ago. 1st gen Cavalier convertible? Someone dailies one; I see it quite often. Early round-headlight Subaru Brat? I can tell you right where one is street-parked. You don’t see any of them in great quantities, but if you keep an eye out, one example of almost anything will eventually turn up.

  10. Any early to mid 2000’s Chrysler minivan. Those bubbles used to be everywhere. Now the only ones I see are either Florida plated or limping along with gaping rust holes. That could be expanded to any mid 00’s Detroit 3 minivan, come to think of it.

  11. When we first moved to our current area some six or so years ago, late model minis were a very common sight. The local dealer closed three or four years ago and I see so few of any model on the road I occasionally check to see if they’re still in production. It’s bizarre, because there are still a few dealers within a hour’s drive, so they shouldn’t be unobtainable.

  12. It’s normal for a company to overhire during a growth phase. Coordination isn’t always great across teams, and functions that should be centralized (IT, Data Analytics, HR, Software delivery) have a dependency to pop up in multiple places.

    I suspect that some of these functions are getting brought home to one place and the RIF won’t impact their actual ability to design and produce cars.

  13. I saw a Chevy Citation just a couple weeks back. It was the first one I had seen in a bit, but I recall them being all over the place for a while. Not as common as a Ford Escort or something, but they were certainly out there.

  14. “I’d love to know, what’s one car that used to be everywhere in your area but is now rarer than hen’s teeth?”

    I recall 1st gen Priuses were pretty popular once, but I suppose battery replacement at 100K miles probably did most of them in. I cannot say that I have seen one anywhere in 5 or more years.

    1. Were they? The ones that were just modded Echos? That was 1997-2000 model years. My pick is Dodge Neons. They used to be EVERYWHERE and now barely seen. I guess when you’re out of production for 15 years will do that to just about any car, though.

    2. Looking at stats, the first-gen sales numbers were definitely way lower than more recent years.
      A replacement battery looks to be around $1500, which is probably the same range as an engine or transmission. Then again, even a bill half that size is probably enough to send a 20-year-old commuter car to the junker.

  15. Are we still expecting Lordstown to do anything other than continue to search for investors? While this shakeup is better than previous messes, the shuffles seem to come when investment cash is drying up. It’s like they are seeing how many times they can tell people that they have it all sorted this time, they just need a little more money.

    1. I wonder if this is reflective of Rivian transitioning from a tech startup to a company that actually produces vehicles? Maybe now they need more staff in production, and less staff in startup-type jobs (whatever those are; I have no idea how a startup company works)? Just a thought, since I’ve seen a few Rivians on the road the last few weeks.

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