Latest in Gear

Image credit:

Tesla battery head departs as Model 3 production ramps up

He's leaving at a pivotal moment for the electric car maker.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
August 1, 2017
Share
Tweet
Share

Sponsored Links

Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/GettyImages

Tesla may be celebrating the launch of the Model 3, but it's still a bittersweet week. The electric car maker's longstanding battery technology director, Kurt Kelty (pictured at right), has left the company after 11 years. Neither Tesla nor Kelty has commented on the reasons for the departure, although it's fresh enough that Kelty's LinkedIn profile still shows him as employed in his old role. Whatever the motivations, the exit is a bit of a blow -- though it might not be as serious a hit as it looks at first glance.

Kelty was crucial to the creation of the first Gigafactory in Nevada. A former Panasonic employee, he was the chief negotiatior for the Gigafactory partnership. Tesla wanted Panasonic's help keeping up with demand (particularly when the Model 3 arrived), and Kelty got it. He also regularly made "billion dollar" deals with other suppliers, and led both quality control and recycling efforts. His departure leaves big shoes to fill, and there's no guarantee that the successor will clinch future agreements with similar skill.

Is Tesla going to reel from the loss, though? Not necessarily. You could argue that Kelty overcame the biggest hurdles Tesla will have to face for a while: he got established battery companies to take a chance on an EV startup whose very survival was far from guaranteed. Tesla isn't out of the woods yet, but the focus now is more on expanding those deals as the firm widens its car lineup and opens more factories. Whoever replaces Kelty will still need to make hard decisions, but they won't have as many make-or-break situations on their hands.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
Tweet
Share

Popular on Engadget

NBCUniversal’s Peacock launches today: Here’s what you need to know

NBCUniversal’s Peacock launches today: Here’s what you need to know

View
Best Buy is selling the Lenovo Smart Clock for half of its launch price

Best Buy is selling the Lenovo Smart Clock for half of its launch price

View
Earth’s first off-world colonies will be built on soil

Earth’s first off-world colonies will be built on soil

View
Is there a good reason to buy the Apple Watch Series 5 ?

Is there a good reason to buy the Apple Watch Series 5 ?

View
Watch SpaceX's second attempt at launching astronauts at 3:22PM ET

Watch SpaceX's second attempt at launching astronauts at 3:22PM ET

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr