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Tesla loses one of its most senior engineers and director of manufacturing

As Tesla is working to ramp up Model 3 production after delaying its 5,000 units per week target by ~6 months, we now learn that the company lost two manufacturing engineers, including a 12-year veteran at the company.

Jalopnik reported that both Jason Mendez, senior director for manufacturing engineering, and Will McColl, senior manager for equipment engineering, both left the automaker in recent weeks.

Mendez has been with Tesla since 2005 – making him one of its most senior engineers.

He held several different positions at the company – first in battery engineering where he contributed to making Tesla’s first battery pack prototypes and he later became an executive in Tesla’s manufacturing team.

The engineer was also a key part of the effort to bring back Tesla’s battery pack manufacturing from Asia to California in 2008-2009.

At Tesla’s 2016 shareholders meeting, he was brought on stage to talk about the difficult process:

In their report, Jalopnik didn’t offer any detail on his departure from Tesla, but they linked it to Model 3 production. Tesla didn’t comment on the report.

As for McColl, he made the announcement on LinkedIn:

“The news seems to be out: last Friday I resigned from Tesla. It was an action-packed 7 years of automation equipment design and I will truly miss the team. I will treasure our countless moments of laughter as we fearlessly dismantled the edifice of “impossible!”. I’m continually inspired by my colleagues’ resolve, and I wish them strength as they ramp and refine Model 3. It’s an amazing car! As for me, I’m preparing for the next venture and challenge. I’ve got many complexities to unravel in the move back from Germany, but I’m very excited to return to the US in the coming months. Stay tuned!”

He was apparently working with Tesla’s automation team in Germany following Tesla’s acquisition of Grohmann Engineering.

Electrek’s Take

It’s unfortunate to see Tesla losing engineering talent in manufacturing in the middle of its biggest production ramp up to date.

We don’t have more information on either departure, but while Jalopnik’s report tries to link them to problems ramping up Model 3 production, I don’t see any indications that it’s actually the case beyond the timing. Therefore, I’d be careful not to blame anyone or anything in particular without knowing all the facts.

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