Sun, Sep 09, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Downplaying media reports, Musk fills vacant posts, promises production hike


Tesla Inc chief executive Elon Musk made a series of internal promotions to rebuild the company’s senior management team and downplayed media coverage of the electric-car maker, assuring employees that production and deliveries are set to surge.

Musk filled the voids left by departing heads of human resources and communications, and elevated Jerome Guillen to president of automotive operations.

While Musk stopped short of naming a chief operating officer — a position that some Tesla investors have called for him to create and fill in light of the CEO’s controversial behavior — he is putting significant responsibility on the plate of a manager who has helped the company pull off a potential production breakthrough with its all-important Model 3 sedan.

The executive changes capped a chaotic week for Tesla in which Musk lost his chief accounting officer Dave Morton after less than a month on the job, then on Thursday smoked marijuana during a late-night taping of a podcast hosted by Californian comedian Joe Rogan.

Musk attempted to minimize the commotion surrounding his company after Tesla shares sank to the lowest in five months and its bonds traded at record lows.

“For a while, there will be a lot of fuss and noise in the media. Just ignore them,” Musk, 47, said in an e-mail to employees that was republished as a blog post.

“Results are what matter and we are creating the most mind-blowing growth in the history of the automotive industry,” he added.

Musk said that Tesla is about to build and deliver more than twice as many cars as it did last quarter, without being specific about whether the company would accomplish this feat in the third or fourth quarter.

During the second quarter, Tesla produced 53,339 vehicles and delivered 40,740.

The only forecast that Tesla had given previously for the third quarter was that it would produce 50,000 to 55,000 Model 3 cars.

In a filing earlier on Friday, the company said that the functions and personnel that Morton had been leading would be overseen by chief financial officer Deepak Ahuja and the firm’s corporate controller.

The departure of Morton and head of human resources Gabrielle Toledano, combined with Musk smoking marijuana, sent the company’s shares down 6.3 percent to US$263.24 in New York trading on Friday, their lowest close since April 2.

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