Two months after Tesla lost its head of business development who wished to "spend more time with his family", shortly after the EV company's veteran battery technology director also unexpectedly quit (full list at the bottom of this article), and just weeks after Tesla decided to even out the ranks on the bottom as well, and fired "hundreds of workers" this week, including engineers, managers and factory workers even as the company struggles to expand its manufacturing and product line, the senior management exodus at Tesla has continued with the director of battery engineering leaving the company in recent weeks.
Jalopnik reports that Jon Wagner, who joined Tesla in 2013, worked as the team leader for battery pack design engineering at the automaker and helped develop technology in the Model S, X, and 3, according to his LinkedIn profile. He also served as Tesla’s interim director for battery manufacturing, body engineering and computer aided engineering, according to his LinkedIn page.
According to Jalopnik's sources, Wagner officially left the company within the past month, but "the circumstances of his departure aren’t immediately clear."
There are some hints on Wagner’s LinkedIn page, which says he still works at Tesla, but, as of last month, now states that he’s launching a battery and powertrain startup in Redwood, California.
“[C]ontact me to find out more,” Wagner writes on his page about the new venture, “now hiring!”
Jalopnik further speculates that It’s possible Wagner’s new venture was in the works for some time, before the Gigafactory issues became known. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said last week the company didn’t fully grasp the extent of the issues “until quite recently.”
Wagner is the latest in a string of management departures at the automaker, which last week said the “primary constraint” on production of the Model 3 has been problems at its massive battery factory. The company said the “combined complexity” of the all-electric sedan’s new battery module and the automated manufacturing processes for it has led to sluggish production. CEO Elon Musk said last week the company didn’t fully understand the issues “until quite recently.”
Tesla experienced hiccups at the Gigafactory earlier this year. In the second quarter, the company reported it had a “production shortfall” of 100 kWh battery packs through June. Tesla launched production of the Model 3 in July, but it hasn’t gone smoothly. Early last month, the company reported it produced only 260 Model 3s, less than 20 percent of its target of 1,500 for the third quarter of 2017. An investigation into Tesla’s manufacturing operations published last week by Jalopnik raised questions about the status of the car’s assembly line at the automaker’s California factory. At least one supplier had yet to receive the necessary approval for tooling to build their component, the investigation found, a crucial factor when trying to hit high production targets.
In a letter to shareholders last Wednesday, Tesla said the “primary constraint” on production was emanating from the Gigafactory, where it ran into problems making battery packs for the Model 3. Tesla said it’s “confident that throughput will increase significantly in upcoming weeks” and that it’ll “ultimately be capable of production rates significantly greater than the original specification,” but it pushed back a target of producing 5,000 Model 3s per week by the end of this year to late March.
Whatever the real reason behind Wagner's departure, the complete - and staggering - list of recent senior executive Tesla departures, just added one more entry.