Rivian’s chief operating officer Rod Copes stepped down last month as the EV startup was ramping up production for the R1T electric pickup and R1S electric SUV.
The COO retired from the company after holding the position for almost two years, with his LinkedIn profile indicating he had been appointed COO in March 2020. At the time of writing, his profile reads “retired from Rivian.” Prior to joining Rivian, he was the president of Royal Enfield North America for almost six years.
According to Rivian, Copes’s departure is not as sudden as it may seem at first sight. In a short statement seen by Automotive News, the company said that Copes “began a phased retirement from Rivian several months ago, affording the team continuity as we moved toward production ramp.”
The EV maker added that his duties have been distributed across the leadership team. The COO’s departure comes at a critical time when the company faces challenges in the production ramp-up of its R1T and R1S EVs.
Last month, Rivian announced that it would fall “a few hundred vehicles short” of its target to build 1,200 vehicles in 2021. The company confirmed the estimate in a January 10 regulatory filing that said Rivian produced 1,015 vehicles by the end of 2021 and delivered 920.
Rivian stock dropped on production issues and continued to fall after Amazon, a major investor and customer, said it would buy Ram ProMaster electric delivery vans from Stellantis. Shares continued to drop after news of Copes’s departure broke out on January 10, with the stock being 21% down this year through Monday’s close.
The EV maker recently shared plans to use part of the $13.7 billion it had raised through its IPO to build a second factory in Georgia that would double its production capacity and build battery cells.
Rivian also filed a new trademark for bicycles and electric bikes as well as their corresponding structural parts. This likely indicates that the company is keeping a close eye on e-bikes as it seeks to diversify its portfolio with a cheaper product to mass-produce than electric trucks but still consistent with its adventure-seeking customer base.