Tesla exec turnover soars as Model 3 pressure builds


Tesla Motors, Palo Alto, California

Tesla Motors, Palo Alto, California

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Tesla says it will put its mass-priced Model 3 electric car into production by July, and ramp up production extremely quickly from there.

CEO Elon Musk hopes to be building 5,000 cars each week by the end of the year; he previously set a goal of producing 500,000 cars across all model lines by the end of 2018.

The Model 3 is the vital linchpin of Musk's plans for growing Tesla from a relatively low-volume manufacturer into a more mainstream automaker.

DON'T MISS: Tesla Model 3 timing confirmed: first cars in July, 5K a week by next year

But the pressure to achieve those ambitious goals may be taking a toll on Tesla staff.

Key personnel are leaving the company in increasing numbers, reports Bloomberg.

The latest and most-high profile departure is CFO Jason Wheeler, who left the carmaker just 15 months after joining it from Google.

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3

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Wheeler, whose departure was announced during last week's quarterly earnings call, said he wanted to pursue work in public policy.

Deepak Ahuja will return as CFO; he had been replaced by Wheeler when he retired in 2015.

Tesla also recently lost its human-resources VP Mark Lipscomb and its director of hardware engineering Satish Jeyachandran.

ALSO SEE: Musk responds to Tesla line workers on wages, injuries, confidentiality

Bloomberg listed more than two dozen management departures within the last 12 months, including vice presidents of finance, communications, regulatory affairs, production, manufacturing, products, and programs.

Former executives speaking to the news service on the condition of anonymity cited long hours, "mission creep," and a "tense culture" as some of the reasons behind their decisions to leave.

"The pressure of getting out the Model 3 is getting to everybody, from the people on the factory floor to the people at the top," AutoPacific analyst Dave Sullivan said regarding the turnover.

Tesla Model 3 design prototype - reveal event - March 2016

Tesla Model 3 design prototype - reveal event - March 2016

Enlarge Photo

Tesla says it loses fewer top execs than other Silicon Valley tech companies, where intense working conditions and high turnover are commonplace.

Three-quarters of its senior leadership have more than three years of tenure, the company said, and 60 percent have been with the company at least six years.

In fact, 20 percent have been onboard a decade, according to Tesla—and this is at a company founded in 2003 that emerged from stealth mode only in July 2006.

MORE: Tesla's manufacturing chief has a lot on his plate (Model 3, mostly)

Six out of 10 executives who have had leadership positions at Tesla over its 14-year existence are still with the company, the automaker says.

As of December 31, Tesla had 17,800 employees, not counting the 12,200 it inherited through last year's $2 billion acquisition of SolarCity.

The company currently has more than 2,000 job postings on the recruiting website Taleo, according to Bloomberg.

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