Rivian hires former Porsche exec Kjell Gruner as sales chief

“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,” said Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe, referring to lower-cost vehicles to be built at a future Georgia assembly plant in 2026.

Gruner said in a statement that he will take Rivian into new markets.

“Rivian has built an exceptional brand with two incredible consumer vehicles, the R1T and R1S, as well as category-defining commercial vans at its core,” he said. “I look forward to chart paths into new markets, build new partnerships and customer experiences.”

The startup’s prospects have improved in recent months after it struggled following its 2021 launch to meet production goals amid supply chain shortages and other manufacturing headaches.

In the second quarter this year, Rivian said it produced 13,992 vehicles at its Normal, Ill., assembly plant and delivered 12,640. Those numbers were significantly better than production of 9,395 vehicles and sales of 7,946 in the first quarter.

The company’s stock price is up nearly 50 percent over the past six months amid growing optimism about its prospects for success after burning through billions in cash since the start of production in September 2021.

Rivian said that Gruner serves on the board of Livewire, an electric motorcycle manufacturer, the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern United States and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.

Gruner joined Porsche in 1999 from Boston Consulting Group. In 2004, he left Porsche for Daimler, where he rose to director of strategy for Mercedes-Benz Cars before returning to Porsche in 2010.

A Porsche retailer told Automotive News in July that Gruner is well-suited to a public company because of his background in marketing.

—Urvaksh Karkaria contributed to this story.

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