Electric vehicle company Rivian hires Ken Shuman as first comms head

Rivian is set to reveal its pickup truck and seven-passenger SUV in November at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

PLYMOUTH, MI: Electric vehicle company Rivian Automotive has hired Ken Shuman as its first chief communications officer as it emerges from stealth mode.

He is reporting to Rivian founder and CEO R.J. Scaringe. Shuman will work remotely from his home in the San Francisco Bay area for the Plymouth, Michigan-headquartered company.

Shuman is initially overseeing one person, Michael McHale, who joined the company as director of automotive communications three weeks ago. McHale has more than 20 years of communications experience at Land Rover, Mini, and Subaru.

Shuman said that he plans to bring six to 10 people on to Rivian’s comms team in the first half of 2019. He is tasked with building teams and programs in four key areas: external corporate communications, internal employee communications, government affairs and policy regulation, and investor shareholder communications.

Rivian, which describes its products as "electric adventure vehicles," Rivian will reveal its pickup truck and seven-passenger SUV in November at the Los Angeles auto show. The company is planning to hold a private launch event at Griffith Observatory the night before the auto show.

Shuman said Rivian has been in stealth mode for seven years and is building its comms department before the big reveal.

"In the auto industry, people say, ‘Here is our future-looking car for 2022; here is a clay model,’" said Shuman. "But the first time people see [our cars] is when they are show-ready; we are revealing vehicles you will drive, not a concept vehicle."

Rivian also has a San Jose, California, office that is focused on building the connected car and the autonomous self-driving platform. The company also has an office in Irvine, California, working on battery design and innovation, and it has a manufacturing plant in Normal, Illinois.

Since January 2016, Shuman has worked as global comms head for Pindrop Security, a provider of phone fraud-prevention and call center authentication services. He left the company this month.

Prior to joining Pindrop, Shuman was VP of communications at NerdWallet. Previously, he spent six years as VP of communications at Trulia, where he helped lead communications for the company as it transitioned from a start-up to a public entity. Shuman was one of PRWeek’s 40 Under 40 honorees in 2013.

He has also worked for Horn Group, Bite Communications, Text100, Access Communications, and Fitzgerald Communications.

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