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Tesla loses another battery expert as manufacturing problems still plague Model 3 production

Tesla has lost a second battery expert during an important time for the company’s battery production effort.

Jon Wagner, Tesla’s Director of Battery Technology, has left the automaker to found a new startup.

The executive confirmed the move on his LinkedIn page, which was first reported by Reuters.

Wagner made a name for himself in the EV world as the Chief Technology Officer of Mission Motors, which was known for its electric motorbike, but they also did battery packs for other manufacturers, including the Project LiveWire for Harley-Davidson.

But Mission went bankrupt, which they blamed on Apple poaching electric vehicle engineers from the company – though not Wagner who instead went to Tesla in 2013.

He became Tesla’s Director of Battery Technology and joined battery leadership at the company led by CTO JB Straubel and senior director Kurt Kelty, who also recently left Tesla after a decade at the automaker.

On LinkedIn, Wagner described his job at Tesla:

“Team leader for battery pack design engineering: mechanical, thermal, structural, electrical, and system engineering. Led the cost-down and product improvement effort for Model S/X battery pack. Pushed R&D technology development focused on architectures for cost reduction, reliability, and safety. Brought many of those technologies to market in S/X, Powerwall, and Model 3.”

It sounds like he had a role to play in Tesla’s latest battery pack architectures.

Tesla Model 3: Exclusive first look at Tesla’s new battery pack architecture

Now he is listing his job at a “battery and powertrain stealth startup” in Redwood, California.

The departure from the company comes as Tesla is having difficulties ramping up its Model 3 production, which is partly due to issues with battery module production at Gigafactory 1 in Nevada.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that a supplier “dropped the ball” on setting up the production lines for the battery modules, but he also added that ultimately it was the company’s responsibility.

He says that he is now personally spending a lot of time on that production line in order to get rid of the bottleneck and that CTO JB Straubel “is basically spending his life at the Gigafactory” in order to solve the issue.

Those problems ultimately contributed to Tesla having to delay its planned Model 3 production ramp up by 3 months.

Featured image Tesla’s Model S battery pack picture by Jason Hughes

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