Tesla Inc. (TSLA) is losing more top talent with two executives leaving as it grapples with bottlenecks in production.
Matthew Schwall, director of field performance engineering, has left Tesla for Google’s (GOOGL) self-driving vehicle business Waymo LLC. He was the company’s primary point of contact with the National Transportation Safety Board and other regulators.
Schwall’s departure comes just as regulators have started investigating several crashes connected to Tesla’s self-driving cars, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing unnamed sources. A spokesperson said the move was not related to Tesla’s issue with the Autopilot.
In other executive departures, Tesla announced on Friday that Doug Field, its engineering chief, was taking a leave of absence to “recharge” and spend time with his family. Field was charged with overseeing development of new models, including the Model 3 sedan that is plagued with production delays.
Tesla’s Production Woes
CEO Elon Musk said early last month that he would assume the duty of overseeing Model 3 production from Field, who would focus on engineering.
Telsa produced about 9,766 Model 3 sedans in the first quarter, up from 2,425 in the previous quarter but well off Tesla’s original goal of producing 20,000 vehicles per month by the end of 2017. In a tweet Sunday, Musk said the company is employing a "hackathon," or a collaboration between programmers, to help it resolve bottlenecks.
Tesla shares are down about 6.8% in the past year as the company burns through cash. And while short interest is growing rapidly, the company still has some investor support. (See also: Tesla Short Interest Surges Ahead of Earnings.)
Baron Capital Founder Ron Baron said that while his investment in the electric-car maker has not yet yielded returns, he expects “to make 20 times our money because the opportunity is so enormous.” His firm has been investing in Tesla since 2014.
“Of course, they're spending a lot of cash. They're building factories," Baron told CNBC. “The capital he's going to need to produce new vehicles is much less than other companies are going to be spending and they'll be using less labor." (See also: Is the Panasonic-Tesla Battery Deal in Trouble?)