Tesla Loses Two Model S Executives Before Sedan Makes Debut; Shares Slump
By Alan Ohnsman - Jan 13, 2012 4:00 PM ET
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Tesla Motors Inc., the U.S. electric carmaker, said both its chief engineer and director of chassis engineering for the Model S luxury car have left the company just months before the rechargeable sedan goes on sale. Tesla shares fell as much 20 percent following the announcement.
Peter Rawlinson, Palo Alto, California-based Tesla’s vice president and chief engineer, and Nick Sampson, who supervised vehicle and chassis engineering, departed this month, Ricardo Reyes, a company spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement.
“Having completed conceptual and design engineering work on Model S, Peter has decided to step away to tend to personal matters in the U.K.,” Reyes said. Sampson had “fully transitioned” off the Model S at the time of his departure, Reyes said without elaborating.
Tesla, recipient of a $465 million U.S. loan to build its rechargeable models at a plant in Fremont, California, plans to begin building and selling Model S cars by mid-year. The company last month said initial versions, able to travel as far as 300 miles per charge, will sell for as much as $92,400 before a $7,500 tax credit.
Jerome Guillen, formerly an engineer with Daimler AG, will assume Rawlinson’s duties and Tesla hired a former Volkswagen AG executive, Eric Bach, Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive officer, said in an e-mailed statement.
Bach “was head of small-vehicle programs at VW and has a lot of high-volume expertise, to help in the final stretch of bringing Model S into production,” Musk said. “Eric reports to Jerome.”
Rawlinson, a former chief engineer at U.K.-based sports-car maker Group Lotus Plc and head of vehicle engineering at consultancy Corus Automotive, joined Tesla in 2009.
Tesla fell 19 percent to $24.86 at 3:59 p.m. New York time, after touching $22.64, the biggest intraday slide since June 29.
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