Elon Musk announced in the context of the latest quarterly figure announcement that Tesla co-founder JB Straubel will withdraw from the operational business as Chief Technology Officer and will in future only work in an advisory capacity for Tesla. The new Tesla CTO will be Drew Baglino.
In his position as Senior Advisor, Staubel says he will continue to work on some of Tesla’s current projects. In particular, he mentioned “new technologies and innovations” – a particularly broad field. For insiders, the (partial) farewell had previously been indicated: At the end of May, the portal Electrek, which is usually well informed on Tesla topics, had already reported that Straubel’s presence at the Tesla headquarters had become “scarce” over the previous six to eight months.
Straubel was even ahead of Elon Musk at Tesla – he is even said to have taken Musk on board at Tesla. While Musk was the investor and innovative businessman behind Tesla, Straubel was regarded as the leader behind the battery technology – to this day, Tesla is known to rely on round cells instead of the usual pouch or prismatic cells. Musk said that if he hadn’t eaten lunch with Straubel in 2003, “the company would basically not exist.”
The retirement of the long-standing CTO is already the second change in the Board of Directors this year: CFO Deepak Ahuja took off at the end of January, and Zach Kirkhorn has been the new Chief Financial Officer ever since. There have also been numerous changes at Vice Presidents level, including Production Manager Peter Hochholdinger, who moved to Lucid Motors. Jan Oehmicke, Vice President Tesla Europe, left the company in July. Sascha Zahnd, previously Vice President Global Supply Chain at Tesla, is regarded as a possible, but not yet confirmed successor.
In its shareholder letter, Tesla has also published official photos from the interior of the Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai for the first time, where the equipment with production equipment is obviously making rapid progress. The pictures in the PDF for the quarterly report Q2/2019 only show a low resolution, but give an impression of the size and the degree of completion in the hall.
Only eight months ago Tesla signed a contract with the Shanghai city government, five months ago the site was secured. To already see the first production robots in the halls is impressive. The pace is high, but so are the costs, as the loss in the second quarter shows. In view of the smouldering trade war between the USA and China, Tesla apparently wants to press ahead with the construction. A “more cost-efficient” version of the Model 3 for the Chinese market is to be built at the plant.
According to Tesla, preparations for the production of the Model Y at the Fremont plant, which is scheduled to go into production in autumn 2020, also began in the second quarter.