Peter Rawlinson, Nick Sampson left Tesla before its Model S launch

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 16, 2012

The departure of Tesla Motors Inc.’s two top executives -- Peter Rawlinson and Nick Sampson -- has resulted to a significant drop in shares. The timing is unfortunate as the electric-car maker’s Model S sedan is scheduled to go on sale just a few months from now. Tesla spokesman Ricardo Reyes confirmed that the two executives left the company earlier this month.

Rawlinson served as the vice president and chief engineer while Sampson is the director of vehicle and chassis engineering. Tesla only announced the departures last Friday through Bloomberg.

Shares were reported to have a 19% decrease to $22.79 as of 4 p.m. ET in Nasdaq trading. Reyes said in an e-mail to Automotive News that Rawlinson had accomplished the conceptual and design engineering work on the Model S and then chose to move away to “tend to personal matters in the United Kingdom."

Reyes added that by the time of his departure, Sampson has “fully transitioned from any Model S activities." As of last Friday, the company's Web site still named Rawlinson as part of the executive team. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in an e-mail that Jerome Guillen, who used to be an engineer with Daimler AG, will take on the duties left by Rawlinson.

Meanwhile, Tesla had hired Eric Bach, formerly an executive from Volkswagen AG. Musk said that Bach had supervised VW’s programs on small vehicles. He is also considered an expert at handling high volumes. He will assist in the last step before production of the Model S begins. Bach will be reporting directly to Guillen. It was in 2009 that Rawlinson joined Tesla.

He used to work as the chief engineer of sports car maker Group Lotus Plc. He had also served as the head of vehicle engineering at consultancy Corus Automotive. Even if Model S development activities were completed, Tesla is totally engaged in the development of the Model X five-seat crossover that has the same platform and powertrains as the Model S.

Inside the Tesla Model S, there are two motors with one positioned in the front and the other in the rear. In addition, the torque delivered to the wheels, for both the front and the rear, is controlled independently and digitally.

Thus unmatched traction control is guaranteed no matter what the condition is. The inclusion the Electric All Wheel Drive system from the brand helps improve the efficiency, which is unlike standard all-wheel drive vehicles which may exhibit increased traction but compromises fuel efficiency. Thus the Model S can go anywhere without ever using gasoline and carries the EPA efficiency rating similar to 90 mpg.

In terms of performance, the Model S is likely the quickest of all 4-door sedans as acceleration from 0 mph to 60 mph is possible in 2.8 seconds. With the battery pack placed on the floor pan and positioned in the middle of the axles, the Model S has a low center of gravity which results in excellent handling. Indeed, this ideal placement of the mass to optimize handling has never been seen before in a production car.

Since there is no need for an internal combustion engine, this allowed Tesla to offer extra cargo space for the Model S. This is in addition to the ample space provided by the cabin for five adults and two children, especially with the rear-facing jump seats.

A number of functions have been mirrored on this model’s instrument panel and by offering voice-activation, ensures that the driver always keeps focus on the road. Majority of the information can be obtained from the 17-inch touchscreen in the center as integrated to it are the cabin control, communications, navigation, and media. Meaning it puts all of the data into a single intuitive surface.

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