Tesla Model S launch won’t be affected by the departure of the two top engineers, CEO says

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 17, 2012

With Tesla Motors Inc.’s claim that there won’t be a delay in the production and sale of its all-electric Model S sedan due to the departure of two top engineers, its shares increased by 15% before regular trading started. When the departure was reported last week, its shares fell by 19%. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that he’s “highly confident” that in 2013, the company will be able to deliver a minimum of 20,000 cars.

He added that he believes the company will “do better than the delivery date of the first Model S cars being in July." On Jan. 13, Tesla shares dropped the most since it started trading on June 29, 2010.

It was right after Bloomberg announced the departure of Peter Rawlinson, Tesla's vice president and chief engineer, and Nick Sampson, who supervised vehicle and chassis engineering.

As of 10:02 a.m. ET, its shares increased by 18% to $26.86. Tesla, which received a $465 million U.S. loan to make advanced autos, is slated to begin the output of the Model S luxury cars at its Fremont, Calif., plant by the middle of the year.

Tesla said that initial units of the sedan could go as far as 300 miles per charge and will sell for up to $92,400 before a $7,500 tax credit is considered.

Musk gave an apology of the manner that the departures were revealed. He said that the company had intended to talk about the changes in its personnel on Feb. 15, which is when results in the fourth quarter are unveiled.

Musk, the largest shareholder in the company, said, “A positive was misconstrued as a negative development.” Alan Baum, principal of Baum & Associates in suburban Detroit, said that Tesla’s shares are volatile as Tesla stays as an "unknown quantity" and the outlook for battery-powered autos is uncertain. [source: Bloomberg]

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