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Karma Automotive Partners With UCI  

Irvine-based luxury electric vehicle maker Karma Automotive is partnering with the University of California, Irvine in its climate action initiative, Resilience and Adaptation Development in California (RADiCal).

The partnership, announced last month, allows Karma to have early looks into climate research through the university’s Beall Applied Innovation facility and to collaborate with the team on topics of climate action and sustainability.

“We invite other like-minded Southern California companies to join us on this exciting journey,” UCI Chief Innovation Officer Errol Arkilic said in a statement.

Karma in turn donated $100,000 to UCI’s Proof of Product program, which provides funds for researchers looking to achieve commercial advancement of their research projects.
“Aligning with UCI’s RADiCal initiative helps us meld our vision for the ultra-luxury automotive marketplace with forward-thinking research and real climate action opportunities,” Karma President Marques McCammon said.

Karma tapped McCammon as president last April. His hiring precedes the EV maker’s multiyear plan to debut at least one luxury EV per year over the next two to three years, Chief Administrative Officer Jeff Wawrzyniak said last year.

Ex-Apple Execs Turn to Rivian  

In one month, Rivian Automotive Inc. (Nasdaq: RIVN) has added two former Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) executives. The new hires come ahead of this year’s upcoming reveal of its next line of electric vehicles, the R2.

The Rivian newcomers, Jonas Reinke and DJ Novotney, have both counted ties to the tech giant’s automotive technology department and new product development.

Reinke was announced as Rivian’s new vice president of product management mid-January and was described to be “instrumental in driving product strategy” when looking ahead to the new R2 model and future platforms, as well as continued vehicle improvements.

He was most recently the head of product, mobility and automotive services at Apple, with “infotainment” as a focus. Reinke was with $2.9 trillion-valued Apple for four years.

“I look forward to working closely together as we tackle this next great wave of product launches,” Chief Executive RJ Scaringe said on LinkedIn.

Novotney joined a week after, reported by Bloomberg. He is said to become the senior vice president of vehicle programs at the Irvine automaker.

Novotney was at Apple for 21 years having worked on projects such as the iPod and iPad devices. He was the former vice president of engineering overseeing the development of new technologies.

As for Rivian’s new technologies, the EV maker plans to manufacture new battery packs for all its vehicles, starting with the R1 trucks and SUVs this year. The R2 vehicles will include the new battery packs when they start production in 2026.

Rivian says these upcoming EVs are meant to be more affordable options in the market as it aims to lower production costs, according to Chief Financial Officer Claire McDonough at a tech conference in December.

In 2023, Rivian produced 57,232 vehicles that exceeded its full-year production guidance of 54,000 cars, which had been updated from 52,000 in November.

The automaker is currently Orange County’s third-most valuable public company with a market cap of $15 billion. Shares are up 12% from year-ago levels and currently trading around $16.

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Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung joined the Orange County Business Journal in 2021 as their Marketing Creative Director. In her role she creates all visual content as it relates to the marketing needs for the sales and events teams. Her responsibilities include the creation of marketing materials for six annual corporate events, weekly print advertisements, sales flyers in correspondence to the editorial calendar, social media graphics, PowerPoint presentation decks, e-blasts, and maintains the online presence for Orange County Business Journal’s corporate events.
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