By on March 15, 2018

There’s something about EV manufacturers that elevates the turnover rate of high-ranking employees. It seemed like we reported on Faraday Future losing executives almost daily for two consecutive years, but Tesla now appears to have its own difficulty retaining talent. The automaker lost two of its senior financial executives this month as it prepares to report on the Model 3 sedan’s progress (or lack thereof).

Is this the beginning of the end for the EV manufacturer? Probably not. It’s easy to obsess about Tesla’s status and speculate endlessly on the health of the brand, but the company’s all-important stock price has yet to crash and Elon Musk has promised to remain at its helm for the foreseeable future. However, the firm may need to do some housekeeping to ensure it doesn’t lose the trust of its investors. 

Tesla posted serious NASDAQ gains in 2017, but valuations in 2018 have so far been a series of ups and downs that’s limiting its upward momentum. While this could be attributed almost entirely to the Model 3’s lackluster production run, losing staff certainly doesn’t help.

The Detroit News reports that Susan Repo, Tesla’s corporate treasurer and vice president of finance, left the automaker to become the chief financial officer of another company. Meanwhile, Tesla recently disclosed that Chief Accounting Officer Eric Branderiz had left his post for “personal reasons.” Jon McNeill, Tesla’s president of global sales and service, also departed to become the chief operating officer of Lyft last month.

While Musk stated he will assume McNeill’s duties, the other employees will likely need replacements in the coming weeks. At the same time, the brand will continue to work toward bolstering production volume of the Model 3 sedan. Tesla has said output should reach 2,500 units per week by the end of March.

Unfortunately for Musk, CNBC cites Tesla employees who claim the company is using subpar components in order to reach that goal. One current Tesla engineer estimated that around 40 percent of the parts made or received at the company’s Fremont factory required some measure of reworking, contributing to the car’s production delays. Tesla denies these accusations, saying every car produced undergoes rigorous quality control. Expect more on that as details surface.

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18 Comments on “Tesla Motors Losing More Executives, Company Probably Not Doomed...”

  • avatar

    Is it the beginning of the end? Nope, it’s the middle and the end is still around the corner. Need to sell more flamethrowers!
    500,000 vehicles in 2018? Not going to happen.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Nobody promised 500,000 vehicles in 2018.

      IIRC, the original promise (now retracted/revised) was a 500k/year *rate* at the end of 2018, which would be ~9600 cars/week in the last week of the year. However, nobody believes that one, either.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Maybe someone can enlighten me on this. I don’t see the failure to meet production goals as the core of Tesla’s problems. Rather, it would seem to me, that whatever Tesla eventually achieves can be readily replicated by much more established companies with greater reach and depth. So, is it particularly difficult to imagine BMW or Audi, for instance, producing an equivalent to anything Tesla makes? Is there something distinctive here that I’m missing?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Those other companies don’t want to lose money on EVs, so they’re more cautious.

    • 0 avatar

      The cost of building an entirely new platform based on EV technology is cost-prohibitive for most carmakers given the relatively low profit margin and sales.

      That Tesla has survived this long is testament to their PR efforts, Elon Musk’s charisma, and hitting that sweet spot of early adopters with large bank accounts.

      All that being said, Tesla is building next-gen electrical charging infrastructure under the guise of building EVs. Their money will be made on charging for their installed infrastructure and making their charging ports the de facto standard (based on majority EVs being Teslas). At least, that’s my take on it. I don’t see them being profitable churning out small numbers of S and X’s, nor large numbers of 3s.

    • 0 avatar
      01 Deville

      Agreed that failure to meet production goals is a problem for short term finance and may not have significant long term implications
      As for others replicating Tesla, this is certainly a risk but not the end of the world for Tesla because
      1. Tesla has 30,000 employees, a very large factory for making batteries and experience in electric car manufacture, so not very easy for other automakers to catch up.
      2. Tesla being a small Silicon valley firm is working out of its skin to make impossible, possible. Taking high risks, quick decisions with a workforce that is 150% engaged. Larger corporations are doing just fine with their bread and butter product and are not inclined for the risks that hungry Tesla has to take.
      3. Tesla has a very strong brand and for many people, the first to something new is the go to brand for a long time. Even if Audi and BMW were to make a superior product, there is no guarantee that people will prefer them over Tesla, for example Windows 8 phones vs. androids and Apple come to mind. So in the higher end/ high profit market I see Tesla continue to do better.

      Tesla’s biggest worry should be making decent profit selling value electric cars once Japanese and Koreans start making them.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve said before that I’m wondering whether Musk is really interested in being the battery king, and he’s using cars as the Trojan Horse to do it. If a major incumbent wants to scale up EVs they need to source batteries. Musk would gladly have the Gigafactory be that source. Remember, he offered up Tesla’s patents to other manufacturers. Plus, Tesla cars will retain cachet for some time even when a BMW or Audi jumps in to the market.

  • avatar

    “Susan Repo”. Repo is an awesome name for someone in auto industry finance. If she becomes bored with that she can always become a skip tracer or something.

    • 0 avatar

      “‘I shall not cause harm to any vehicle nor the personal contents thereof, nor through inaction let the personal contents thereof come to harm’ It’s what I call the Repo Code, kid!”

      RIP, Harry.

  • avatar
    Glenn Mercer

    I agree! First name Sue, last name Repo, as in “if we can’t repo your car for your loan default, we’ll sue you!” ALMOST as good as Vin Diesel: Vehicle Identification Number Diesel.

    (In a loosely-related vein, I recall the joke about the actor Peter O’Toole having the perfect name for a porn star.)

  • avatar

    One can only breathe in the vapours for so long before becoming lightheaded.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Naah, that sort of job-hopping and headhunting is pretty typical of the tech industry that is Tesla’s hiring pool.

  • avatar

    Another nail in the Tesla coffin. How are you going to spin this Elon?

  • avatar

    Yesterday’s news from CNBC about them having to rework 40% of their parts tells the story. Science projects are fun, but the cool kids in NorCal got no interest (or expertise, apparently) in grinding out a thousand units a day production. Six months from now, they’ll be @ss deep in warranty headaches on these Model 3s.

  • avatar

    “Tesla Motors Losing More Executives, Company Probably Not Doomed Yet”


  • avatar

    “One current Tesla engineer estimated that around 40 percent of the parts made or received at the company’s Fremont factory required some measure of reworking, contributing to the car’s production delays.”

    Back in GM’s glory days, they cranked out millions of mid-sizers in that plant. Many had execrable quality control. Those Model 3s must be haunted.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Alpha dogs like Musk are typically horrible to work for. A-team executives tend to come and go. Eventually the Alpha ends up surrounded by B-team execs who are willing to throw out their pride for stock options and a good looking LinkedIn entry. This happens in Silicon Valley with depressing regularity.

  • avatar

    Perhaps they have just gotten tired of winning.

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