Tesla's Veteran Battery Technology Director Unexpectedly Quits

Stormy weather was unleashed in Tesla longsville today when the company's veteran director of battery technology, Kurt Kelty, unexpectedly resigned to "explore new opportunities", abruptly ending a tenure with the company that stretched for more than a decade, and comes at a critical time for Elon Musk: just as Tesla enters "production hell" after it delivered its first Model 3 electric car to the general public with a dramatic production ramp up expected in the coming weeks. Kelty joined Tesla in 2006 and was one of the longest-serving executives at Tesla after Elon Musk.

Kurt Kelty is seen at the company's new sales outlet in Osaka, Japan's in August 2015

“We can confirm that Kurt Kelty has left the company to explore new opportunities and we want to thank him for everything he’s done for Tesla,” the company told Bloomberg in an emailed statement, adding that his responsibilities will be “distributed among Tesla’s existing teams.”

Ominously, Kelty previously worked for 14 years at Panasonic, Tesla’s critical partner on the battery-producing gigafactory in Reno, Nevada. Kelty was the Tesla point man in negotiations with Panasonic on the plant, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Tesla remains so reliant on its battery technology, or lack thereof, that last month when Tesla failed to meet expected Q2 deliveries of its Model S and Model X cars, it blamed a "temporary shortage of 100 kWh battery packs."

Tesla and Kelty’s previous employer Panasonic have had a close partnership, with the two in a supply agreement for 1.8 billion battery cells through 2017 for the Model S and Model X. For the Model 3, the companies jointly developed new, slightly larger cylindrical battery cells than those used in Tesla’s existing models.

Adding to Tesla's headache, Tesla hopes to make 20,000 Model 3 cars per month by December, a ramp-up phase that Musk described to employees as “production hell.”

Kelty is the latest in a long-list of Tesla executives to have departed the company, with at least 20 names counted in just the past 12 months in the following list of TSLA executive departures compiled by @WallStCynic. While the real reason for Kelty's departure remains unknown, judging by the list below, shortsville may just end up having the final laugh.

Tesla reports Q2 earnings tomorrow after the bell: the circumstances around Kelty's departure will be one of the key questions asked.


NoPension Looney Tue, 08/01/2017 - 20:18 Permalink

Been in the car business since I was 15. I'm out now, but I've got I lot of experience.
I find it IMPOSSIBLE to believe this numbnut can build a car...at a profit...that Toyota, GM or Honda can't.
My sense is...the big boys are standing back...waiting for this whole fiasco of a fucking ponzi.governtment fuel experiment to implode.

You have to admire the balls on this cat, though.

In reply to by Looney

TheRedScourge NoPension Tue, 08/01/2017 - 20:30 Permalink

You can't conceive of how a guy smart enough to put together a team of people behind a vision and end up landing a fucking lower stage of a rocket on a fucking barge in the fucking ocean after having launched its upper stage, something no nation on Earth has done before or since he did it, could possibly do something that the other automakers themselves can't do? Cool story bro. Yes, the stock is a bit insane, and their growth goals are overly optimistic, and they will likely have a few more serious hurdles to clear, but this thing is here to stay.

In reply to by NoPension

NoPension remain calm Tue, 08/01/2017 - 20:58 Permalink

Toyota could build 400,000 a month, if it needed to.

They are sitting back....letting him work the kinks out....and use his " Popularity " to get the infrastructure in. Then....he's our modern version of Tucker. A man and his dream. If this battery shit ever works out. I don't think it will...not for many years..if not decades.

In reply to by remain calm

BaBaBouy NoPension Tue, 08/01/2017 - 23:12 Permalink

NO they couldn't, nobody can right now.Theres a huge l-ion battery shortage.The world needs battery 20 giga factories and theres only 1 so far thats PARTIALLY complete!Thats Musks problem. He'll probably miss his MOD 3 targets...Also COBALT shortage for batteries, miners are scrambling to find new deposits.It will be huge news where Kelty goes, BMW, Toyota, Volvo? Big rampup in Battery production... 

In reply to by NoPension

not dead yet BaBaBouy Wed, 08/02/2017 - 03:38 Permalink

The Musk factory is not yet producing cells. They using imported cells in the areas that are finished. You claim the world needs all these giga factories now as if the sales of electrics will immediately skyrocket.  Tesla has squat for battery tech, except for packaging the cells in a case, it's all Panasonic. Tesla imports cells for it's batteries from Panasonic. It's Panasonic that is overseeing the construction of the Tesla plant and has invested millions of it's own. The plant that the State of New York built and gave to Solar City for free is now going to be used for Tesla and Panasonic to make lion cells. There are quite a few factories around the world producing cells for autos. China plans to build at least 6 mega plants. If the Chinese do to the battery industry what they did to the solar panel mfgs, running most out of business and more going under every year, those giga factories that Musk claims Tesla will build will never see the light of dayy.

In reply to by BaBaBouy

not dead yet TuPhat Wed, 08/02/2017 - 03:56 Permalink

Cussing is an American tradition. The worst is when those with "superior intellect" use big often complicated words when little ones will do to make themselves feel superior as they think they have put down their "inferiors." They revel in how much better they are than those who use "gutter language." For example you superior people would say fornicating the canine instead of the readily recognizable fuck the dog. Fuck off and take your attitude with you. Instead of memorizing all those big words to try and impress other "superior" people and put down others you could have learned something worthwhile.

In reply to by TuPhat

not dead yet TheRedScourge Wed, 08/02/2017 - 03:21 Permalink

In an article from Space.com dated June 16, 2016, yes 2016, Jeff "Amazon" Bezos rocket venture Blue Origin landed it's FOURTH rocket on LAND. The last one only a short distance from where it launched. With the press fawning all over Musk as some kind of god not much makes the news of others accomplishing things especially if it tarnishes the Cult of Musk. Let's not forget that the industries that supply these "pioneers" with their equipment are in business due to the US government spending the money to create a space program and the technology to make it work. Equipment, tech, scientists, engineers, and others learning their trade on the government dole working for Musk as the Muskinator gets credit for being a rocket genius. Odds are if NASA had stuck to space instead of branching out into crapola like climate change there would be no private rocket companies like Space X or Blue Origin.Space X was turned down for government contracts then Elon had a temper tantrum and got the press and his bought and paid for political friends involved and bingo nice fat contracts.

In reply to by TheRedScourge

Lumberjack True Contrarian (not verified) Tue, 08/01/2017 - 20:12 Permalink

Here comes more subsidized failures...

Offshore U.S. wind farm proposal uses Tesla batteries to store power


Where fire brigades have to stand back and let them burn on a weekly basis.


POTUS needs to fire Rick Perry and stop this horse shit now!

In reply to by True Contrarian (not verified)

junction True Contrarian (not verified) Tue, 08/01/2017 - 20:22 Permalink

Before leaving, did Kelty do a Scaramucci, unleashing a string of profanity at everyone?  Is the Tesla Ponzi scheme in trouble or is this departure just a bump in the road for Musk's plan of world auto domination.  I am waiting for the Tesla lithium batteries to start auto-igniting into fireballs due to a manufacturing flaw.

In reply to by True Contrarian (not verified)

RedDwarf Tue, 08/01/2017 - 20:04 Permalink

Looks like they are abandoning ship.  The battery tech they need to take Tesla to the next level just isn't there yet.  It needs to be better, cheaper, and less reliant on rare materials.

TheRedScourge Winston Churchill Tue, 08/01/2017 - 20:33 Permalink

If anything, it should work better for mass market vehicles, as people in those cars are not flooring it and slamming on the brakes as often as some guy in a high-end sports car trying to put it through its paces for fun. Flooring it is actually extremely hard on battery life, and using it as a basic commuter vehicle is actually way more suited to electric car batteries.

In reply to by Winston Churchill

NoPension TheRedScourge Tue, 08/01/2017 - 20:54 Permalink

Fucking fancy golf carts.

Gas engines today are exhausting cleaner air than goes in.
If anything...we should be pushing to get vehicles running on natural gas/propane. We can't find places to store the shit...and it burns clean as hell.

Oh, btw....in response to folks driving reasonably...haha! Get on ANY beltway at 7:00 to 9:00 am...such as 695, 97, Rt50 or 495 around D.C.!
It's like dropping the green flag at the Indy 500 every morning. Try doing 70 mph in the right lane....go ahead...try. These motherfuckers will tailgate you and all but run you over....in the SLOW lane. The hammer lane is suicidal. Oh yeah....folks take it easy in the real world.

So....what color Tesla did you get?

In five years I'm starting a business to put 440 hemis and 396 big blocks in Teslas.

In reply to by TheRedScourge

energywonk Tue, 08/01/2017 - 20:03 Permalink

perspective is an interesting thing isnt it. you could argue with the successful development of the 2170 cell and the first handovers of the model 3 his job is done and now he wants to start his own EV business or someone has tapped him on the shoulder and offered more dollars (Tesla pay quite poorly). your shortsville line is getting boring. 

TheRedScourge energywonk Tue, 08/01/2017 - 20:35 Permalink

Many of the employees, particularly the earlier ones like him, get one hell of a stock incentive though, and they try to keep them there by giving more options over time in such a way that they are constantly part way towards unlocking a new batch, or an existing batch is getting to the point where they are allowed to sell them.He's probably so ridiculously rich now that they couldn't keep him any longer, as the allure of more money no longer made up for his urge to look for something new after ten years.

In reply to by energywonk

Cash Is King Tue, 08/01/2017 - 20:05 Permalink

Elon let it slip out last week that he suffers bi-polar issues. With this guy leaving I'm now wondering if he (Tesla) is setting up a defense as the Implosion of this cash burning low production heavily subsidized POS starts to take shape. I'm buying deep outta the money puts (leaps) cause I think this is gonna destroy its stock price.

not dead yet Cash Is King Wed, 08/02/2017 - 04:13 Permalink

After a company produces it's 200,000th electric the BUYER subsidies get gradually phased out over the next year. Thus part of the reason Musk is in such a hurry to produce large numbers of cars so fast. It's possible CONgress can extend the subsidies like they did for solar and others awhile back in a REPUBLICAN controlled CONgress. Tesla itself still gets plenty of subsidies in the hundreds of millions from the state of California. Not too long ago the state was going to cut back those subsidies and Musk went wild and made a few calls and bingo no cuts.

In reply to by Cash Is King