Tesla Loses Manufacturing, Engineering Chief

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

If there’s a better symbol of OEM brain drain than Mike Donoughe, I’m not aware of it (but let me know in the comments). Eighteen months ago he was Chrysler’s “star engineer” tasked with leading development of much-needed Sebring/Avenger replacements. He left ChryCo in what appeared to be a clash with senior management, and we’re still waiting for new models to take the place of the gruesome twosome. His next stop was Tesla where he became the head of manufacturing and engineering in July 2008. Within months Donoughe had survived a vicious purge (by txt!), and probably began planning his exit. Having announced his plans to leave Tesla for product development firm St. Clair Consortium, Donoughe is leaving another OEM just as they appear to need him most.

“I’ve worked to improve the quality and production process for the Roadster,” Donoughe tells the Detriot News. “As we’re moving forward with the Model S, this seemed like a logical point to make the change.” Except that Tesla is still looking for its first factory, and the Model S will be a production challenge the like of which Tesla has never seen. CEO Elon Musk may claim Donoughe is “leaving the company on very solid footing and at a logical time in Tesla’s phenomenal growth curve,” but if Tesla can afford to lose anyone with real development and production process experience, it’s news to us. And the conventional wisdom was always that Donoughe was hired to develop the Model S because he’s one of the few people at Tesla with long-term auto industry experience. Tesla still has not announced a new head of manufacturing operations.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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4 of 5 comments
  • Guyincognito Guyincognito on Sep 24, 2009

    So what he's saying is, 'I have so much confidence in the continuance of Tesla's "phenominal growth curve" tha I plan on getting out of there before I get a chance to cash in on their game changing electric sedan.

  • Windswords Windswords on Sep 24, 2009

    I know you like to make him look like some kind of star that was too good for lowly Chrysler, but could it be that this guy is not so terrific? Why does he keep changing companies before he can have any real impact there?

  • Sutski Sutski on Sep 24, 2009

    Big deal. Some guy came in , did some good and now they are looking for someone better to step it up to the next level. I would wager there are a few competent project manager CV's floating around the US at the moment. And a few empty factories. The problem here again for Tesla is?

  • Tauronmaikar Tauronmaikar on Sep 24, 2009

    Given that Musky Elon combined the leaving of a top employee with real auto experience with "phenomenal growth curve" in the same sentence we can only conclude that they are crashing and burning from lack of real experience.