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Tesla’s top manufacturing executive departs at the worst possible time

With the Model 3 release just a few months away, there’s been an interesting executive shake-up over at Tesla. According to a new report from Reuters, newly minted executive Klaus Grohmann left the company last month after butting heads with Tesla CEO Elon Musk over company strategy.

For some relevant context, recall that Tesla bought Grohmann Engineering this past November in an effort to improve automation and increase efficiency across Tesla’s manufacturing process.

“This will really be our first acquisition of significance in our whole history,” Musk said at the time, later adding that the company’s engineering expertise will help the company “build the machines that build the machine.” Indeed, Grohmann Engineering’s expertise will not only help Tesla ramp up Model 3 production, but will also help the company meet it’s wildly ambitious goal of manufacturing 500,000 cars in 2018 alone.

As for the reason behind Grohmann’s departure, well, that’s where things get a bit tricky. Shortly following the acquisition, Tesla announced that it had no plans to renew contracts with any of Grohmann’s existing clients, some of whom had long working relationships with the German-based company. This naturally led to some concern amongst Grohmann engineers, ultimately prompting Elon Musk to pen a letter to employees claiming that Tesla shares might see a 10-fold increase over the next few years. In a statement on the executive shuffle, a Tesla spokesperson said: “Part of Mr Grohmann’s decision to work with Tesla was to prepare for his retirement and leave the company in capable hands for the future. Given the change in focus to Tesla projects, we mutually decided that it was the right time for the next generation of management to lead.” Meanwhile, Tesla Model 3 mass production remains on track to begin in just three months with deliveries to early reservation holders expected to begin in late 2017.

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