Charles Sanderson is one of the reasons why many people claimed Rivian’s R1-series vehicles will handle like supercars. One thing that Sanderson championed during his tenure at the American EV maker is the suspension system which replaced the mechanical anti-roll bar with an electro-hydraulic roll control system. Anti-roll (or anti-sway) bars are used to make the car feel more leveled during sharp turns. But Rivian’s sophisticated system allowed for more body control on-road and off-road without needing this part.
So, the R1T was touted by many as handling like a McLaren 720S even though it weighs almost 7,000 lb (3,175 kg). That is an impressive feat for a pickup truck, especially for one that is completely electric and must deal with a heavy battery pack. Managing the weight shift in tight scenarios is paramount for vehicles that are presented as being the next best thing, so the implementation of the Tenneco hydraulic damper at Rivian was a success for both the automaker and Sanderson as a professional.
The man has also been heard on multiple occasions talking fondly of the R1T and R1S. He liked Rivian’s CEO’s vision of making a pickup truck that will rival even the best of what legacy automakers have currently on sale. But he went even further than that by setting the ambition to build a vehicle that can beat all the other benchmarks set by other similar units (or not!) as a top priority. Given Rivian’s current reputation and demand, one could argue that…
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Rivian’s chief engineer has gone back to building British supercars, GM’s CEO is making a case for robotaxis in Washington, and things are getting desperate for Volkswagen in China. All that and more in this edition of The Morning Shift for Friday, March 17, 2023.
1st Gear: Back to Mac
The chief engineer Rivian poached from McLaren in 2018 has returned to Woking. Charles Sanderson will serve as chief technical officer at McLaren, after previously spearheading software at the British supercar maker. From Automotive News:
“Mr. Sanderson will now spearhead McLaren Automotive’s new technology roadmap and product innovation strategy,” McLaren said. Sanderson’s previous role at McLaren was head of software development.
Rivian said Sanderson had chosen to return to McLaren.
A Rivian spokesperson said Sanderson was part of the product development team reporting to Nick Kalayjian, chief product development officer, who has a strong leadership team and deep bench of talent.
According to his LinkedIn page, Sanderson started with Rivian in June 2018 as vice president of vehicle integration and development, a role he held for 15 months before moving to the chief engineer job in August 2019.
Sanderson’s exit marks the latest in a string of executive departures from Rivian, which has faced challenges in ramping up production of its R1T electric pickup and R1S electric SUV. The startup fell just short of its 25,000-vehicle production target last year, and many analysts found its…
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