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Tesla snags Apple’s Reliability Director to scale up production with iPhone-like dependability

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With some high profile exceptions, it is generally accepted that Apple ships some of the most reliable high-tech products out there – at least if you believe the customer satisfaction reports. Things are far murkier for Tesla in that department, especially at its relatively early age.

Last year, Consumer Reports pulled their recommendation of the Tesla Model S citing “worse-than-average” reliability issues.

It became one of Tesla’s top priority over the last year and the automaker has made some significant improvements as evidenced by the declining replacement rates for major components, thanks in part to a growing reliability and test team.

Now Electrek has learned that Tesla has found a new leader for the team by hiring Apple’s Director of Reliability Engineering.

Tesla’s engineering leadership is full of former Apple directors and VPs. More recently, we also reported on Tesla hiring its new Global Creative Director from Apple.

Now the latest Apple alumni to join Tesla is David Erhart. He joined the automaker’s executive team as Senior Director of Reliability and Test earlier this week.

Sources familiar with Tesla’s reliability effort say that the company increased the staff from a few engineers to over 40 full-time employees over the last year. Tesla added data scientists on the team and focused on reliability down to the design – not unlike how Tesla CEO Elon Musk says that the Model 3 is designed for manufacturing.

Erhart, who has over 20 years of experience in reliability engineering, is joining the team as senior director.

After earning a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Berkeley in 1986, he joined Motorola and transitioned to reliability engineering in 1994. He later joined medical technology company Medtronic before going to Apple as Director of Reliability Engineering, a role he held for almost 3 years before joining Tesla.

His role at Tesla will become increasingly important as the automaker is transitioning from producing 2,000 vehicles per week to 10,000 vehicles per week within the next two years. Any widespread reliability issues on such a production scale would put immense stress on Tesla’s service capacity.

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