Rivian recruits ex-Volvo executive as new COO

  • Rivian hires Javier Varela, former Volvo Cars COO, to drive operational excellence and prepare for the production of the R2 SUV in 2026.  
  • Varela, with eight years of experience at Volvo, takes over from Frank Klein, who helped expand Rivian’s operations and boost production of its EV models.  
  • As COO, Varela will oversee procurement, manufacturing, logistics, and quality, guiding Rivian toward efficiency and profitability as the company targets a production capacity of 215,000 vehicles per year.

Rivian Taps Former Volvo Exec as New COO to Drive Efficiency and Expansion  

Rivian has appointed former Volvo Cars COO Javier Varela as its new Chief Operating Officer. Varela is set to join the EV maker in August, reporting directly to CEO RJ Scaringe.

Varela brings eight years of experience from Volvo Cars, where he oversaw engineering, program management, manufacturing, supply chain, and procurement. He also served as the company’s deputy CEO.

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Varela is taking over from Frank Klein, Rivian’s COO since June 2022. Klein is departing after overseeing the expansion of the company’s operations and scaling the production of Amazon’s electric delivery vehicles, along with Rivian’s R1S and R1T electric models.

CEO of Rivian, RJ Scaringe, commented;

“We are thrilled that Javier is bringing his deep experience in the automotive industry to Rivian as we are focused on profitability, operational excellence and delivering R2 to customers as soon as possible. Javier has a strong background in engineering, program management and innovation and a proven track record of success across a range of operating environments.”

Varela will be responsible for procurement, manufacturing, logistics, and quality. He’ll focus on enhancing operational efficiencies as the company gears up for the production of its budget-friendly R2 SUV, to be built at Rivian’s Normal, Illinois, facility. Rivian is also developing a new platform that will support both R2 and R3 vehicles.

Javier Varela said;

“Rivian’s commitment to pushing the industry forward with technologically advanced, highly innovative vehicles is something I’ve admired for a long time. I’m looking forward to helping the company scale and continue to innovate as it rolls out R2 and its next generation of vehicles.”

In March, Rivian revealed it would delay construction of its $5 billion factory in Georgia, originally intended for the production of its budget-friendly R2. The shift aims to cut the capital required to develop, launch, and deliver the R2, with Rivian estimating total cost savings at over $2.2 billion.

Rivian manufactured 13,980 vehicles in Q1 2024 and aims to produce up to 57,000 vehicles by the end of the year. With R2 production set to start in Illinois in the first half of 2026, Rivian plans to increase the plant’s capacity to 215,000 vehicles annually.

Varela’s appointment marks a pivotal moment for Rivian as it seeks to refine its operations and scale production. With his extensive experience, the company is poised to navigate the path toward efficiency and profitability, while preparing for the highly anticipated R2 launch in 2026.

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