Elon Musk Wants You…
…if you are an auto engineer.
Via a conference call, when Tesla Motors was announcing its earnings, Elon Musk gave a shout-out to “the best manufacturing people in the world”, inviting them to join the company as it ramps up production for the Model X and prepares to start on the Model 3.
Preceding Musk’s invitation just hours earlier, two of Tesla’s top executives had announced their departure from the company – VP of Production, Greg Reichow, will be going on a leave of absence until a replacement is found while VP of Manufacturing, John Ensign, simply took off without a successor. The timing cannot be worse as Tesla is grappling with recent recalls and production delays with the Model X, as well as the unexpected huge demand for the Model 3. Musk says, however, that he is “hell-bent” on making Tesla Motors a manufacturing powerhouse.
Well, the “powerhouse” wannabe is not doing so well right now. A product recall was issued last month for 2,700 early-production Model X’s that rolled off the line before 26 March, to rectify a problem with the third-row seats; there has also been numerous complaints about the reliability of the all-electric SUV. A spokeswoman denied that Reichow, who had led production for five years, is leaving due to these recent problems; a statement released by the company attributed his departure to him going for “a well-earned break”.
However, the company’s high management turnover in recent months has cast doubts as to whether the real reason is really that simple. Other executives that have left include the VP of Regulatory Affairs and Deputy General Counsel, James Chen, and VP of Global Communications, Ricardo Reyes.
To add to Tesla’s HR problems, there is a shortage of manufacturing engineers in the US of A. At the same time, all established automakers have new rivals courting the same potential talents – employers that are the likes of Google and Apple, the hip new kids on the block, working on their own car programmes. And while many a younger engineers would be keen to work with upstarts like Tesla, the older and more experienced manufacturing experts will be harder to bait – yet they, the seasoned industry veterans, are whom Tesla needs. Prior to Tesla, neither Reichow nor Ensign had any auto experience, which could explain the issues they encountered.
Tesla will need experienced auto engineers waving magic wands to help him achieve the goal of 1 million vehicles by 2020 – which requires volume to increase ten-fold in four years – a stretch even for the most established of automakers. So, if you’re a bright, brilliant car engineer looking for an almost insurmountable challenge, give our good friend Elon a call.