Tesla is currently working to address manufacturing issues at its Gigafactory in Nevada, which led to a three month delay in the production schedule of the Model 3 sedan. At the same time, Jalopnik has learned the company’s director of battery engineering left the company in recent weeks.
Jon Wagner, who joined Tesla in 2013, worked as the team leader for battery pack design engineering at the automaker and helped develop technology in the Model S, X, and 3, according to his LinkedIn profile. He also served as Tesla’s interim director for battery manufacturing, body engineering and computer aided engineering, his LinkedIn page says.
Wagner couldn’t be immediately reached for comment. Tesla declined to comment.
Sources said he officially left the company within the past month, but the circumstances of his departure aren’t immediately clear. There are some hints on Wagner’s LinkedIn page, which says he still works at Tesla, but, as of last month, now states that he’s launching a battery and powertrain startup in Redwood, California.
“[C]ontact me to find out more,” Wagner writes on his page about the new venture, “now hiring!”
It’s possible Wagner’s new venture was in the works for some time, before the Gigafactory issues became known. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said last week the company didn’t fully grasp the extent of the issues “until quite recently.”
Still, Wagner is the latest in a string of management departures at the automaker, which last week said the “primary constraint” on production of the Model 3 has been problems at its massive battery factory. The company said the “combined complexity” of the all-electric sedan’s new battery module and the automated manufacturing processes for it has led to sluggish production.
Tesla experienced hiccups at the Gigafactory earlier this year. In the second quarter, the company reported it had a “production shortfall” of 100 kWh battery packs through June.
Tesla launched production of the Model 3 in July, but it hasn’t gone smoothly. Early last month, the company reported it produced only 260 Model 3s, less than 20 percent of its target of 1,500 for the third quarter of 2017. An investigation into Tesla’s manufacturing operations published last week by Jalopnik raised questions about the status of the car’s assembly line at the automaker’s California factory. At least one supplier had yet to receive the necessary approval for tooling to build their component, the investigation found, a crucial factor when trying to hit high production targets.
In a letter to shareholders last Wednesday, Tesla said the “primary constraint” on production was emanating from the Gigafactory, where it ran into problems making battery packs for the Model 3.
Tesla said it’s “confident that throughput will increase significantly in upcoming weeks” and that it’ll “ultimately be capable of production rates significantly greater than the original specification,” but it pushed back a target of producing 5,000 Model 3s per week by the end of this year to late March.
The automaker ultimately has a goal of reaching a run rate of 10,000 Model 3s per week, but Tesla said it won’t hit that until it implements a “capacity addition”at the California factory to increase production.
Tesla has about 450,000 reservations for the Model 3.