Rivian VP of Public Policy & Chief Regulatory Counsel leaves company

Rivian VP of Public Policy Jim Chen is departing the company. He is expected to leave the electric truck maker at the end of February.

Chen has a lot of experience lobbying for electric vehicle makers. Prior to his employment at Rivian in 2018, he worked for American electric car maker Tesla, where he led the company’s efforts to secure direct-to-consumer sales in various states. Such deals are extremely important for companies like Tesla and Rivian, as they do not utilize a traditional dealership model.

During his time at Rivian, Chen was responsible for advocating for changes to laws that require car companies to sell vehicles using franchised dealerships. He was also in charge of overseeing Rivian’s federal lobbying and regulatory affairs, as noted by The Wall Street Journal.

A statement from a Rivian representative noted that Chen’s departure from the company was a mutual agreement, and it was driven partly by the lobbyist’s desire to prioritize time with his family. “I am proud of the work we have done, the influence we have had, and the team that we have built,” Chen noted.

A look at Chen’s work over the years makes his decision to take a step back from the frontline of the EV movement, at least for now, understandable. During his time with Tesla, he successfully secured compromise deals that ultimately allowed the EV maker to operate Tesla-owned stores in areas where the dealership lobby is dominant. Among these areas is Georgia, which approved legislation in 2015 that allowed Tesla to sell cars without going through local dealers.

In previous comments, Chen mentioned that he departed from Tesla after over five years because he burned out due to the pace of work at the company. But even after coming over to Rivian, he met numerous challenges. In Georgia alone, Chen’s efforts to secure direct-to-consumer sales for Rivian were met with resistance from the state. This was despite the company’s plans to invest $5 billion in a Georgia factory.

Rivian has seen some changes in its top management, including the replacement of its head of manufacturing and chief operating officer in the past year. The company also announced last year that it was cutting off 6% of its workforce as a cost-saving measure.

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