By Hyunjoo Jin
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – More than a dozen Tesla executives took the stage at the company’s Investor Day on Wednesday, a departure from its previous such events where Elon Musk tended to dominate.
The move, a first for Tesla, appeared to be aimed at showcasing the depth of its executive bench as at a time when investors have worried Musk’s distraction with Twitter could hamper growth for the electric vehicle (EV) maker.
“We’ve obviously got significant bench strength here,” Tesla CEO Musk said as he sat flanked by 16 executives.
Here’s a list of the executives who were on stage at Tesla’s Texas factory:
TOM ZHU, CHINA CHIEF AND HEAD OF GLOBAL PRODUCTION
Tesla China chief, Tom Zhu, said he was in charge of global production, sales, delivery, service and represents all the “Gigafactories”, confirming a Reuters report on his promotion.
When asked about political tensions between China and the United States, he emphasized that Tesla and its suppliers create jobs and contribute to the Chinese economy.
ZACH KIRKHORN, CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER
He became CFO of Tesla in 2019, at age 34, nine years after joining Tesla. He also has an official title of “Master of Coin of Tesla” after the EV maker invested in bitcoin in 2021.
“You survive or you die based on the ability to manage our costs,” he said during his presentation.
LARS MORAVY, VICE PRESIDENT, VEHICLE ENGINEERING
The former Honda engineer joined Tesla in 2010. Moravy heads a team of engineers, technicians, and analysts in charge of vehicle hardware design, his LinkedIn profile shows.
The Chicago native said Tesla’s next-generation vehicle would be a “huge volume product, and we’re going to move that quickly over the next couple of years.” He said Tesla’s next-generation, lower-cost platform would include multiple models.
PETE BANNON, VICE PRESIDENT, HARDWARE ENGINEERING
The former Apple engineer leads a team that creates the Full Self-Driving hardware. He is an industry veteran at Tesla’s relatively younger executive team.
Bannon said “having full control of the supply chain at the component level has been critical to Tesla over the last few years” as supply constraints have hit its ability to build cars.
DREW BAGLINO, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT
Baglino is in charge of Tesla’s efforts to produce its own batteries, the so-called 4680 cells, and he took the stage several times at the Investor Day event. He also featured at Tesla’s Battery Day in 2020. He joined Tesla in 2006.
He has served as senior vice president for powertrain and energy engineering since October 2019.
FRANZ VON HOLZHAUSEN, SENIOR DESIGN EXECUTIVE
The former director of design for Mazda North America joined Tesla in 2008. He previously took stage at Tesla’s Cyberturuck unveiling event in 2019 where he threw metal balls at the windows of the pickup truck to show off its robust design, only to see them crack like spiderwebs .
ASHOK ELLUSWAMY, DIRECTOR, AUTOPILOT SOFTWARE
Elluswamy joined Tesla in 2014.
“Building a scalable self-driving system is one of the hardest real-world AI problems out there,” Elluswamy added.
Last year, he testified in a deposition in a lawsuit over a fatal crash involving a Tesla. He said a video Tesla used to promote its self-driving technology was staged to show capabilities like stopping at a red light that the system did not have.
BRANDON EHRHART, GENERAL COUNSEL AND CORPORATE SECRETARY
Ehrhart, who joined Tesla in January after 20 years at DISH Network as general counsel, spoke directly to investors who had been critical of management and governance over the last year.
“We have an active and engaged board,” he said. “We’ve met with you. Today is the culmination of that. We’ve heard you. And you’ll hear more from our board at an appropriate time.”
LAURIE SHELBY, VICE PRESIDENT, EHS&S (Environmental, Health, Safety, and Security)
Shelby joined Tesla in 2017.
She said Tesla has 129,000 workers, half in manufacturing.
Tesla is encouraging factory workers to suggest improvements to safety, she added. The company has faced criticism for laying off dozens of New York-based workers a day after they launched a campaign to form a union.
Rebecca Tinnuci, who runs Tesla’s charging infrastructure team, was one of the two women among the 16 executives on stage.
(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Himani Sarkar)