A Tesla Model 3 is seen in the general assembly line at the Tesla factory in Fremont, California, on Thursday, July 26, 2018.
Mason Trinca | The Washington Post | Getty Images
Tesla manufacturing director Jatinder “Jat” Dhillon recently left the company, according to two people who worked with him at the company’s Fremont, California, car plant.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Dhillon worked for Tesla for more than 7 years and most recently led Model 3 production in Fremont. The circumstances of his departure were not disclosed.
Tesla and Dhillon did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Dhillon’s departure comes at a critical time for Tesla, as the company works to cram production of four different electric car models into its Fremont plant — the Model 3, which is its most popular car to-date; the Model Y, a new crossover SUV which shares parts with and looks similar to the Model 3; and the older and more expensive Model S and Model X.
During his tenure, Dhillon launched the company’s in-house seat manufacturing operations at a facility a few miles south of the main car plant in Fremont. It was considered risky for a car maker to manufacture its own seats, including its own proprietary seat frames. But with CEO Elon Musk in pursuit of pure vertical integration, which would give the company a high degree of self-reliance, Tesla managed the task.
Tesla went through a rocky period ramping up Model 3 manufacturing in Fremont in the last two years, but under Dhillon’s management, finally achieved its highest rate of production for any vehicle ever with the Model 3 there at the end of 2019, according to people who worked with him.
While increasing output in Fremont, Tesla is also figuring out how to manufacture as a multi-national and trying to revitalize its solar business.
Besides Fremont, Tesla operates a massive battery plant outside of Reno, Nevada, and a smaller facility in Buffalo, New York, where it makes electronic components for its chargers and plans to ramp up production of its solar roof tiles.
The company recently started delivering cars to customers that were made at its new factory in Shanghai, and has begun clearing a forest to set up a factory in Berlin.
Shares in Tesla were on a historic run-up at the end of 2019 and start of this year but plummeted this week on news of supply chain disruptions, a worldwide COVID-19 outbreak and oil price wars. Overall, shares are up around 50% year-to-date.
Shares in Tesla closed up 6.1% on Tuesday following news that the company has now produced more than 1 million electric cars, and amid a broader market recovery.