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Rivian Secures Second Apple Executive as Cloud Czars Retreat

In a strategic move, Rivian (RIVN) has recently appointed its second Apple (AAPL) executive in less than a month, signaling a shift in talent dynamics as Cloud Czars withdraw from the automotive sector.

D.J. Novotney, formerly Apple's (AAPL) vice president-engineering, is set to join Rivian as the senior vice president of vehicle programs, reporting directly to CEO RJ Scaringe. The hiring comes amid ongoing delays in Apple's much-anticipated car project, now postponed until 2028.

rivian company ev fleet

As a result, Rivian's stock has experienced a 4% surge in early trading, following a 1% increase over the weekend, contributing to its current market capitalization of approximately $14.5 billion.

Novotney's departure from Apple, a company he describes as "his life," highlights the prolonged development timeline of the Apple Car, originally expected to launch this year, then pushed to 2026, and now slated for 2028. This move follows Jonas Reinke's recent transition from Apple to Rivian, where he now serves as the vice president of product management, focusing on in-car software.

The industry shake-up reflects broader challenges within the autonomous vehicle sector, as evidenced by Alphabet's (GOOGL, GOOG) Waymo division facing layoffs last year. General Motors' Cruise unit is also under investigation by federal agencies due to recent accidents involving self-driving cars.

Rivian, known for its high-end R1T truck and a notable 100,000-unit delivery van contract with Amazon (AMZN), is leveraging these executive hires to expand its product line. CEO Scaringe has revealed plans to diversify the company's offerings, with a particular focus on a new Georgia factory scheduled for completion in 2026.

In a surprising move, Rivian recently added its R1S SUV to its leasing program, a strategic decision that may reshape the narrative for the electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer. Leasing is deemed crucial for high-priced vehicles, and Rivian's R1 vehicles, priced at around $78,000, aim to capture demand in this segment. The addition of the R1S to the leasing options, along with expanding availability to 15 states, could potentially stimulate incremental demand at a time when the EV industry is experiencing slower sales growth.

Despite challenges in the broader automotive industry, including price cuts, supply disruptions, and slowing growth, Rivian's unique positioning has allowed it to sidestep many of these issues, providing a glimmer of optimism for investors as the company aims to maintain its momentum into 2024.

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