Tesla Motors has confirmed to Autocar that it is engaged in a ‘headcount reduction’ intended to secure its future, following on from yesterday’s news that it was about to make substantial redundancies.
The fledgling electric car maker is feeling the squeeze of the credit crunch, and confirmed that the Model S, a five-seater electric saloon planned for 2011, has been postponed for at least six months.
Elon Musk - the founder of PayPal and one of Tesla’s key investors – has taken a tighter hold of the company’s reins. Former CEO Ze’ev Drori has been effectively demoted to the position of vice-chairman, and Musk will become CEO, chairman and product chief.
In a statement, Musk said Tesla must “focus on its two revenue-producing business lines - the Roadster and powertrain sales to other car companies”.
Musk added that Tesla should be “cash-flow positive” within six to nine months, and pointed out that the Lotus Elise-based Tesla Roadster has a large and growing order book, despite its $109,000 price.
Musk’s management style has caused controversy in the past. A disgruntled insider once described his time in charge of PayPal as ‘chaotic’. And another of the multi-millionaire’s ventures - a rocket company called SpaceX - has suffered a series of recent setbacks to its plans to create affordable space travel.
It's also been revealed that Tesla is pressing ahead with plans to build a new state-of-the-art factory in San Jose, because financing for the development of the 89-acre site is underpinned by a $150 million loan guarantee from the US Energy Department.
Outgoing CEO Drori had previously said a further $100 million of funding would come from Goldman Sachs. Now Tesla plans to develop the Model S using low-cost, taxpayer-backed government loans instead.