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Tesla loses top manufacturing engineer behind battery production to electric pickup maker Rivian

Tesla has lost one of its top manufacturing engineers behind its battery cell production, Victor Prajapati, to electric pickup truck startup Rivian.

Victor Prajapati

Prajapati joined Tesla from solar module manufacturer First Solar, where he was manager of manufacturing engineering, back in 2017.

He came to the automaker just as Model 3 production was starting and the company was entering some dark times, which CEO Elon Musk referred to as “production hell”.

According to Prajapati’s LinkedIn profile, he led an important project that managed to get Tesla out of production hell:

“Managed one of the critical bottlenecks for Model 3 production during “production hell” ramping the line from <10 cars/week to 3,000 cars/week following an S-curve, managing a team of highly talented engineers and working with all of Tesla resources.”

More recently, the engineer became a senior manager in charge of the cell manufacturing engineering.

At Battery Day last year, Tesla announced that it is producing its own 4680 battery cells at a pilot production line in Fremont, California with a lot of new manufacturing processes developed in-house.

Here’s a list of some of Prajapati’s accomplishments at Tesla:

  • Helped build the Cell Manufacturing Engineering division at Tesla
  • Lead team to deliver 3 manufacturing lines (protoype, pilot and full production)
  • Lead the acquisition of Hibar
  • Built a manufacturing engineering team at Tesla to interface with Panasonic to quickly analyze the pareto of bottlenecks on the manufacturing line, once identified provide line side support to get to root cause and relieve bottlenecks.

Now we’ve learned that the engineer has left Tesla to join electric vehicle startup Rivian as their new Director of Manufacturing Engineering last month.

Electrek’s Take

While I am a big fan of Tesla and I want them to retain top talent, this is the kind of movement of talent from Tesla that I don’t mind.

The automaker, as an organization, was able to absorb some of Prajapati’s talent in manufacturing engineering, which will live on at Tesla.

On the other hand, he was also able to gain a lot of experience in deploying new electric vehicle manufacturing capacity, which is going to very valuable at Rivian, which is just now deploying its own production capacity.

Therefore, I think these kinds of moves from Tesla to new EV startups could actually help contribute to Tesla’s mission to accelerate the advent of electric vehicles.

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