Two Tesla Execs Leave Before 2012 Model S Launch, Stock Falls

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Peter Rawlinson, Tesla Motors vice president and chief engineer

Peter Rawlinson, Tesla Motors vice president and chief engineer

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Californian automaker Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] suffered a 19.33 percent drop in share price on Friday last week after it announced two of its key engineers had departed the company months before its 2012 Model S was due to go on sale. 

Peter Rawlinson, Tesla’s vice president and chief engineer, along with Nick Sampson -- who supervised vehicle and chassis engineering on the luxury sedan -- left the firm earlier this month. 

According to Tesla spokesman Ricardo Reyes, Rawlinson -- an English engineer who had previously been chief engineer to Lotus Cars -- had resigned his post to “tend to personal matters in the U.K.” 

Reyes also disclosed that Sampson -- a former Jaguar and Lotus Cars engineer -- had “fully transitioned” off the Model S team before leaving the company. 

When we spoke with Rawlinson last year, he described engineering the 2012 Model S as “difficulty cubed,” thanks to the sheer number of engineers working on the car and the tight time constraints placed on them to meet production deadlines. 

While Tesla may have lost two of its key Model S engineers, CEO Elon Musk remains calm about the automaker’s promises to bring the Model S to market in July this year. 

2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

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“The uncertainty around Model S is now much diminished, as anyone who has seen the beta vehicles and toured the factory will appreciate,” he said in a statement last week. “There is no question in my mind that we will start delivering vehicles in July, if not sooner.”

Tesla has already taken steps to ensure that replacements are found for both men, hiring former Daimler executive Jerome Guillen to assume Rawlinson’s duties and former Volkswagen executive Eric Bach to “help in the final stretch of bringing Model S into production.”

At the present time, Tesla has not disclosed any more information surrounding the departure of both engineers, but has scheduled a company update call for tomorrow at which it will offer an update on its planned 2012 Model S production schedule as well as “a discussion of recent personnel changes.” 

We’ll be joining in the conference call tomorrow, so stay tuned for more information about both Tesla and the 2012 Model S as soon as we have it. 


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Comments (6)
  1. Eh these things do happen quite often.

  2. Yet Elon Musk insists cars will be delivered by July...guess a conference call to explain all this and put the market at ease really is in order and I'm looking forward to it.

  3. Not great news, especially in the case of losing Mr. Rawlinson, but not something that can't be overcome, either. The timing is a little puzzling, but as we all know, there may be any number of reasons for all this. If Tesla were not as far along as it is on the Model S, it would be different, of course.

    Still not convinced of Tesla's viability as an independent company, but not that concerned about this unless we all hear more.

  4. Nothing like a meaningless bit of news to provoke the short sellers
    on Wall Street for startup companies. In case anyone cares, the Model S is COMPLETED, folks. How many 99% production mules do they need to build before the boneheads get it thru their heads that the car is ready for production? Rawlinson probably hadn't had to make any decisions for the past five months and the other guy wasn't even involved with the Model S when he left. In thinking back over Musk's claims during the Model S development,
    I can't remember anything he ever said that wasn't accurate.
    Can't say that about the Volt team. Almost every word they said about the Volt (price, battery warranty & lifespan, appearance)
    was inaccurate, sometimes wildly inaccurate.

  5. As usual, the same bunch of uninformed nonsense from our favorite disinformation specialist... The Model S has already been delayed twice, to start with. First, from late 2011 to early 2012. Now, by end of summer 2012. But other than the timing of the release being delayed twice recently, I'm sure Musk is always right, especially when he's still never developed an entire vehicle.

    I looked up several articles and statements by GM dating to 2008 & both the timing and pricing turned out to be pretty close to the release. The only thing that changed about the battery warranty that I know of is it being increased, which anyone but Ramon would think is good.

    Oh, it's GM, so Ramon's under contractual obligation to attack...

  6. By Silicon Valley standards, these things should be happening a lot more often. This is barely news over here :)

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