Tesla's Battery Tech Director Abruptly Leaves the Company

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【Summary】Kurt Kelty Tesla's battery tech director, has left, just as the company enters what Elon Musk called "production hell" for the Model 3.

Original   Eric Walz  ·  Aug 01, 2017 5:57 PM PT
author: Eric Walz   

Kurt Kelty, Tesla's battery tech director, has left days after the company's lavish party to celebrate the delivery of the first Model 3 sedans, and just as the company enters what Elon Musk called "production hell" for the long awaited Model 3.

The news was first reported by Bloomberg's Dana Hull. A Tesla spokesperson confirmed Kelty's departure to Business Insider, adding that his responsibilities will be distributed among existing teams. Earlier this year, Kelty accepted the award for "Battery Innovator of the Year" presented by the 34-year-old International Battery Seminar.

"We can confirm that Kurt Kelty has left the company to explore new opportunities and we want to thank him for everything he's done for Tesla," a company spokesperson told The Verge by email. "Kurt's responsibilities will be distributed among Tesla's existing teams."

Kelty has served as Tesla's battery tech director for eleven years starting in 2006, before Elon Musk became CEO of the company, according to Kelty's LinkedIn page. Before joining Tesla over a decade ago, Kelty was director of Panasonic's Energy Lab.

Panasonic manufactures and supplies the lithium-ion cells to Tesla for its battery packs and plans to invest a total of $1.6 billion in Tesla's Gigafactory, a massive battery plant in Sparks, Nevada.

Kelty was crucial to the creation of the first Gigafactory in Nevada. As a former Panasonic employee, he was the chief negotiator for the Gigafactory partnership. Tesla sought Panasonic's help keeping up with demand for EV batteries, especially with the pending Model 3 release. He also regularly made "billion dollar" deals with other suppliers, and led both quality control and recycling efforts.

Neither Tesla nor Kelty has commented on the reasons for the departure.

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