Arrival (ARVL) names new CEO but cuts staff in half as it fights to reach Van production in US

The woes continue for commercial EV start-up Arrival, which hopes an internal promotion of a new CEO can help get its all-electric Van into US production as part of a business strategy pivot to cut costs. Arrival is still struggling with capital, however, as it also shared plans to reduce its current staff by 50% to further cut costs and stay afloat. Here’s the latest.

Arrival ($ARVL) is an EV start-up focused on delivering urban-centric mobility, particularly its last-mile Arrival Van, although the start-up was originally also developing an all-electric passenger bus and a rideshare-specific Arrival Car designed alongside Uber.

Since going public via an SPAC merger in March of 2021, the start-up’s stock value has dwindled, leading to an announcement last summer that it would be reorganizing its business to focus solely on Arrival Van production, halting Bus and Car development.

By October, Arrival announced it was pivoting its EV business once again, shifting its focus to US production after citing significant costs to scale overseas and a less-than-stellar at-the-market (ATM) platform.

What was more concerning was Arrival’s cutting of “cash-intensive activities,” which included staff salaries. With a refocused aim on US Van production, Arrival shared that its new strategy would, unfortunately, have “a sizable impact on the company’s global workforce, predominantly in the UK.”

By November, Arrival president and chief of strategy Avinash Rugoobur resigned for personal reasons, and CEO Denis Sverdlov stepped down into a new role as chair of the board. Peter Cuneo has been in place as Arrival’s interim CEO since.

Today, Arrival has announced a new chief taking the reins, but with even more job cuts to follow as the start-up looks to further lean down in order to reach a start of US Van production.

Arrival Van to arrive in 2024 but will need additional capital

This morning, Arrival shared that its former EVP of digital Igor Torgov will take over as company CEO today, following a unanimous vote from the board. In addition to his time at Arrival, Torgov has held leadership positions at Atol, Bitfury, and Microsoft. He commented on his new role:

Accepting this important role at a critical point in Arrival’s journey is a significant responsibility. Arrival has developed unique technologies in a market that has huge growth potential and can play a key role in addressing climate change. To unlock these opportunities, we need to make difficult decisions and to take swift action. Following a detailed evaluation of Arrival and the wider EV market during the past two months, the leadership team and the Board have taken decisive action to ensure the most effective use of our current resources and optimize the efficiency of the business. The actions support our journey to become a champion in innovative products and new, more efficient methods of vehicle production, particularly in the important US market for commercial electric vehicles. We are keenly aware that these decisions, while necessary, will have a profound impact on a significant number of our colleagues. We are 100% committed to supporting our employees during this difficult process.

A difficult process indeed.

As the new CEO, Torgov’s first task following the aforementioned company evaluation is to cut its current staff of 1,600 by half. By combining those significant job cuts with “reductions in real estate and third-party spending,” Arrival expects to also halve its operational costs down to about $30 million per quarter as it continues to try and begin scaled Van production.

As of December 31, 2022, Arrival had just $205 million in cash on hand. Arrival’s stock has sat well below $1 per share for months now, triggering a noncompliance letter from the Nasdaq Stock Market LLC this past November. Arrival has until May to once again eclipse $1 per share, or it will be delisted.

Arrival said it will share more details of its 2023 business plan during its 2022 full-year business update in March, including its financial outlook and product milestones for the Arrival Van. The start-up reiterated that it intends to start Van production in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2024 but admits that goal remains subject to raising additional capital.

It’s hard out here for an EV start-up these days, and Mr. Torgov certainly has his work cut out for him.

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