The company knows that investors, consumers and rivals now want to see if it can establish itself as an automaker that can manufacture vehicles on a large scale.
The only answer is to take action. So the actions.
Frank Klein will officially take office on June 1, Rivian said in a statement.
It will be up to him to solve the biggest problem in Rivian’s young history: successfully increasing production rates and managing supply chain problems.
“At Rivian, Frank will lead the buildout of robust and stable operations processes as well as scaling vehicle production across several new programs,” the company said. “He will reinforce Rivian’s ongoing effort to achieve greater vertical integration in logistics, manufacturing, and operations.”
Rivian insists on Klein’s expertise in vehicle production and in electrification. It’s as if Irvine, Calif.-based firm, wanted at all costs to convince that it made the right choice.
“During his time at Magna Steyr, Frank oversaw the company’s shift to the electric mobility manufacturing space, including the production of the first electric vehicle made by a contract manufacturer,” the automaker insisted.
Adding: “Klein holds a master’s degree in electrical engineering/automation technologies from Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University”, Germany.
Prior to joining Rivian, Klein was the head of a car-making unit at Magna International, MGA the Aurora, Ontario, auto-technology provider. He held the title of president of Magna Steyr bei Magna International.
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“As President of Magna Steyr, I lead a team responsible for positioning Magna as key enabler to new mobility through our unique design, engineering and complete vehicle assembly capabilities,” Klein wrote on his LinkedIn profile.
He described himself as “a true car guy.”
Before joining Magna in 2019, Klein worked for Daimler AG for 27 years, including head of operations for the Mercedes-Benz vans business unit, “with a global responsibility for the production network of Mercedes-Benz vans, including manufacturing engineering, supply chain and quality functions,” Rivian said.
The executive was also a project lead to set up the Mercedes-Benz plant in Kecskemet, Hungary, “where he took over the function of plant manager,” according to Rivian.
“I’m hugely excited to be joining Rivian. It’s a company creating industry leading products and services that are helping to shape the future of the automotive industry,” Klein commented on his appointment. “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.”
He will be based in Normal, Ill., and will report directly to Rivian Chief Executive Officer RJ Scaringe.
Klein succeeds Rod Copes, who retired from the COO position last year.
Rivian, which produces three vehicles — the R1T electric pickup truck, the R1S electric SUV, and the the RCV electric commercial van — in Normal, will soon start building its second production site, east of Atlanta.
Rivian knows he has no room for error. The vehicle maker recently disappointed investors by announcing that it would produce only 25,000 cars this year while the Normal plant can produce twice as many.
“The biggest constraints we now face really lie with the supply chain, and it’s really a small number of parts for which the supplier isn’t ramping at the same rate as our production lines are ramping up,” Scaringe told analysts during the fourth-quarter earnings’ call.
“Our primary focus will be to ramp our normal facility and the production of our R1 and RCV platform. While we work diligently to alleviate any supply-chain challenges, we believe that through 2022, the supply chain will be the fundamental limiting factor to our total output for the year,” added Chief Financial Officer Claire McDonough.