Tesla chief vehicle engineer not returning from leave of absence

2018 Tesla Model 3

Tesla has lost one of its top engineers in Doug Field, who will not return after taking a leave of absence from the electric-car maker in May.

first reported on Field’s departure on Monday, the same day Tesla announced it had reached its goal of 5,000 Model 3 electric cars produced in a week. In an SEC filing, Tesla thanked Field for his work. His final day with the company was June 27.

Field was hired away from Apple as a Mac hardware engineer to join Tesla. The former chief vehicle engineer ranked at number three inside the electric-car maker’s engineering hierarchy and focused on vehicle engineering. CEO Elon Musk holds the title of Chief Engineer.

Field’s departure also comes after Musk took over Model 3 production. Rumors floated that Musk pushed Field aside to ensure production began running at a quicker clip to meet self-imposed goals. Weeks later, Field began his leave of absence to “recharge and spend time with his family,” the company initially said.

Also on Monday, reported that Tesla is taking a break from Model 3 production until Thursday to perform basic line maintenance.

Model 3 production has grown 300 percent over the first quarter of 2018, and the automaker predicted it would build 6,000 sedans per week by the end of next month. The automaker was reportedly running production in two 12-hour shifts, seven days a week to ensure the 5,000 cars per week goal was met. Tesla even erected a makeshift assembly line in a tent to crank up Model 3 production volumes. When it reached it’s goal of 5,000 Model 3s in a week, Tesla also noted that Model 3 production outpaced Model S and Model X production for the first time.

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Although Musk and the company will celebrate the achievement, the test will be for Tesla to consistently hold the same production volume or continue to grow it. The company has begun building all-wheel drive and performance variants alongside the Long Range Model 3. The introduction of the Model 3 Short Range, with an advertised price of $35,000, remains to be seen.

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