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Senior Battery Engineer Leaves Tesla

Tesla assembly line

Battery technology engineer Ernest Villanueva—who has helped design the battery models powering all of Tesla’s models—has left the electric vehicle maker, CNBC reports, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Mr. Villanueva’s LinkedIn profile still states that he is Manager of Battery Module Design at Tesla Motors. He has worked at Tesla since 2006 at various roles in battery module design.

According to CNBC, Villanueva holds eight patents and is credited with the design of the battery modules for all Tesla vehicles. Tesla declined comment for CNBC, while Villanueva did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

If Villanueva’s departure is confirmed, it would be yet another senior manager at Tesla who has left the EV carmaker over the course of several months.

Earlier this month, Uber hired Tesla’s lead battery expert Celina Mikolajczak as Director of Engineering and Energy Storage Systems to work on the ride-hail company’s ‘flying car’ project.

Also this month, another two senior engineers at Tesla were reported to have left the company—Jason Mendez and Will McColl, Jalopnik reported two weeks ago. McColl confirmed he had left Tesla, saying “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!”

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At the end of last year, Tesla’s Senior Director of battery engineering, Jon Wagner, also left the EV maker to start a battery and powertrain startup.

The exodus of engineers comes at a time when Tesla is struggling to overcome production bottlenecks of its mass-market Model 3.

In the fourth quarter of 2017, Tesla delivered 1,550 Model 3s, and produced 2,425 Model 3s, out of a total of 24,565 vehicles.

“As we continue to focus on quality and efficiency rather than simply pushing for the highest possible volume in the shortest period of time, we expect to have a slightly more gradual ramp through Q1, likely ending the quarter at a weekly rate of about 2,500 Model 3 vehicles. We intend to achieve the 5,000 per week milestone by the end of Q2,” Tesla said in early January.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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