Tesla’s head of engineering takes a sudden leave of absence amid concerns over faulty cars setting alight and Elon Musk’s volatile behavior
- Senior Vice President of Engineering Doug Field is taking a break from his job but is not leaving the company, a Tesla spokesman said Friday
- Tesla has come under fire in recent months as several cars have burst into flames
- In March 38-year-old Walter Huang died after his Tesla Model X plowed into a concrete barrier on the highway in Mountain View, California, and ignited
- The local fire department revealed the battery caught fire again six days later
- CEO Elon Musk has also faced criticism for a series of rude outbursts during a call with media analysts last week that caused Tesla’s stocks to drop $2billion
Tesla’s engineering head has taken a leave of absence amid concerns of their cars exploding.
Senior Vice President of Engineering Doug Field is taking a break from his job but is not leaving the company, according to a Tesla spokesman.
‘Doug is just taking some time off to recharge and spend time with his family. He has not left Tesla,’ the spokesman told Reuters Friday.
The company has been weathering a storm of negative press coverage following a fiery crash caused by a faulty battery that killed a man in March and a series of rude outbursts by CEO Elon Musk during a conference call with media analysts last week.
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Tesla’s Senior Vice President of Engineering Doug Field, left, is taking a break from his job, a spokesperson revealed on Friday. Billionaire CEO Elon Musk is pictured right
Fields’ leave of absence comes after a string of explosions in Tesla’s vehicles including one that killed a 38-year-old father in California in March
The cutting edge electric car company is known as a pioneer in the auto industry, but its innovative technology has come with plenty of kinks.
On March 23 a 38-year-old man named Walter Huang died after his Tesla Model X plowed into a concrete barrier on the highway in Mountain View, California.
His family says he was using the car’s autopilot feature at the time of the crash.
Huang was removed from the car right before it caught on fire, and the wreckage reportedly continued to smoulder even after the flames were extinguished.
On Friday it was revealed that the high-voltage lithium-ion battery caught on fire another time while in storage six days after the crash.
On March 23 Walter Huang, 38, died after his Tesla Model X plowed into a concrete barrier on the highway in Mountain View, California
(left) Huang died in hospital after the March 23 crash. (right) Mountain View Fire Chief Juan Diaz sent a message to firefighters after the crash to warn them about the batteries
Mountain View Fire Chief Juan Diaz said the battery was dangerous because it continued to conduct electricity even after it was cooled down.
He added: ‘We don’t have the tools to deal with a battery that is completely, basically destroyed.’
Tesla released a statement after the crash which sympathized with Huang’s relatives but appeared to shift the blame away from itself and onto him.
‘Tesla battery packs are designed so that in the rare circumstance a fire occurs, it spreads slowly so that occupants have plenty of time to get out of the car.
‘According to witnesses, that appears to be what happened here as we understand there were no occupants still in the Model X by the time the fire could have presented a risk.
‘Serious crashes like this can result in fire regardless of the type of car, and Tesla’s billions of miles of actual driving data shows that a gas car in the United States is five times more likely to experience a fire than a Tesla vehicle,’ it said.
Billionaire CEO Musk is pictured unveiling the Tesla Model X Crossover in 2015, similar to the one in the deadly March 23 crash
More than a month later in a quarterly earnings call outspoken CEO Musk made headlines for rude comments during a media call.
The billionaire is said to have called one industry analyst a ‘boring bonehead’ during the bizarre session, saying another’s ‘questions are so dry they are killing me’.
His conduct on the call has been blamed for the five percent nosedive in the company’s shares after trades closed the following day.
Share prices dropped from a closing price of $301.15 on May 1 to a pre-market low of $278 on May 2.
In other notably odd behavior Musk tweeted that he wanted to get into the candy industry on May 5, and it was unclear if the comment was a joke or a serious idea
At the beginning of this week it was also reported that Musk threatened to fire all outside contractors at the company if they weren’t willing to vouch for the quality of their work.
The billionaire mogul said in an email he wants to weed out those who he likens to a ‘drunken sloth.’
The email, obtained by Electrek, reads: ‘I have been disappointed to discover how many contractor companies are interwoven throughout Tesla.
‘Often, it is like a Russian nesting doll of contractor, subcontractor, sub-subcontractor, etc. before you finally find someone doing actual work.
‘All contracting companies should consider the coming week to be a final opportunity to demonstrate excellence.
‘Any that fail to meet the Tesla standard of excellence will have their contracts ended on Monday.’
‘By default, anyone who does not have a Tesla employee putting their reputation on the line for them will be denied access to our facilities and networks on Monday morning.
‘This applies worldwide. Time to scrub off the barnacles.’
In other notably erratic behavior he tweeted that he wanted to get into the candy industry on May 5.
It was unclear whether the tweet was a joke or a serious idea, much like the flamethrowers he ended up selling at the beginning of this year.
ALL THE TESLA VEHICLES WHICH HAVE CAUGHT FIRE
Following a series of fires in 2013, Tesla began outfitting new cars with a triple underbody shield to bring the risk of fire down to ‘virtually zero,’ according to a March 2014 blog post written by Chief Executive Elon Musk.
Here is a list of incidents of Tesla vehicles catching fire since 2013:
October 1, 2013 – A Tesla Model S caught fire near Seattle, after the car collided with a large piece of metal debris on the road that punched a hole through the protective armor plating. The driver was not injured.
October 2013 – A Tesla car crashed through a concrete wall and hit a tree, catching fire in Merida, Mexico. The driver was not injured.
November 2013 – A Tesla Model S caught fire after the electric car ran over a tow hitch that hit the undercarriage of the vehicle, in Smyrna, Tennessee. The driver was not injured.
February 2014 – A Tesla Model S caught fire in Toronto, Canada, with the fire originating in the engine area. There were no injuries.
March 2014 – Following the fires, Tesla cars were outfitted with a triple underbody shield to bring the risk of fire down to “virtually zero”, following the car fires of 2013, Elon Musk said in a blog post on March 28, 2014.
July 2014 – A stolen Tesla Model S crashed into several vehicles and split in half after striking a light pole in West Hollywood, catching fire and leaving the driver in a critical condition, two officers hospitalized and half of the car wedged in a synagogue.
June 2015 – A 2013 Tesla plunged off a cliff along Malibu Canyon Road, and caught fire killing the 53-year-old driver.
August 2016 – A Tesla electric car caught fire during a promotional tour in southwest France. No one was injured in the incident.
November 2016 – A Tesla vehicle crashed into a tree and burst into flames in Indianapolis, killing the driver and the passenger.
March 2017 – A Tesla Model S caught fire at the Jinqiao Supercharger Station in Shanghai, China. No one was harmed in the incident.
August 2017 – A Tesla vehicle went off road in Lake Forest, California and crashed into a home, igniting a garage fire. The driver in the Tesla was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
October 2017 – A Tesla Model S caught fire in Austria, after the driver crashed into a concrete barrier at the side of the road. The driver survived the crash.
March 2018 – A Tesla Model X crashed and caught fire near Mountain View, California. The crash involved two other cars resulting in the death of the 38-year-old Tesla driver at a nearby hospital shortly after the crash.
May 2018 – A 2014 Tesla Model S drove off the road and hit a concrete wall in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, immediately catching fire killing two teenagers and injuring another.
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