Tesla Inc. has accused electric adventure vehicle maker Rivian Automotive Inc.’s alarming pattern of poaching its employees and stealing trade secrets.
Electric vehicle giant Tesla Inc! is calling Rivian out for trying to steal its currently employed workers, through its former employers. Tesla also accused Rivian employees of transferring highly sensitive proprietary information as they left to work for the rival startup, and Tesla said it suspects there are at least two more culprits.
“Misappropriating Tesla’s competitively useful confidential information when leaving Tesla for a new employer is wrong and risky,” according to the complaint filed in state court in San Jose, California, as reported by Reuters. “One would engage in that behavior only for an important benefit — to use it to serve the competitive interests of a new employer.”
On defense, Rivian denied all allegations made by Tesla. Rivian responded by saying it is required that all new employees confirm that they have not, and will not, introduce former employers’ intellectual property into Rivian systems.
“Rivian is made up of high-performing, mission-driven teams, and our business model and technology are based on many years of engineering, design, and strategy development,” the company said in an emailed statement reported by Reuters.
“This requires the contribution and know-how of thousands of employees from across the technology and automotive spaces.”
In the new suit, Tesla called itself Rivian’s “number one target from which to acquire information,” and said that Rivian has hired 178 ex-Tesla employees, roughly 70 of whom joined Rivian directly from Tesla.
Founded in 2009, Rivian futuristic R1T, an all-electric pickup truck, which promises 400 miles of driving range on a single charge, and an acceleration time compared with those of superfast sports cars, is expected to go on sale in late 2020.
Using Tesla’s style to direct sales to consumers without dealership or middlemen, Rivian truck will be sold directly to consumers, although Rivian says that it also will set up a network of service centers and Tesla-like stores.
Amazon has ordered 100,000 electric delivery vans from Rivian, as part of its plan to convert its delivery fleet to 100% renewable energy by 2030. Delivery of the vehicles will begin in 2021. Amazon expects to have 10,000 electric vans in operation by 2022 but is not slated to take delivery of the entire 100,000 Rivian vans the contract calls for until 2030.
In April 2020, Rivian reached 2000+ employees. Rivian raised capital of US$2.85 billion during 2019, through four major investments, including a US$500 million investment by Ford in April, which “plans to use the Rivian skateboard for a new battery electric vehicle,” and US$1.3 billion investment round led by T Rowe Price announced in December to get the R1T truck and R1S SUV into production by late 2020.
Rivian said in its statement that “we admire Tesla for its leadership in resetting expectations of what an electric car can be,” while calling the claims in the lawsuit baseless and “counter to Rivian’s culture, ethos and corporate policies.”