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Layoffs, boardroom reshuffles at Tesla Motors

Elon Musk to take over directly as CEO

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Rumours of layoffs and management reshuffles at Tesla Motors - maker of the famous but as-yet-scarce Roadster electrosupercar - have been confirmed. In the next few hours Elon Musk, Tesla chairman, is expected to announce that he has formally superseded Ze'ev Drori as CEO. Details of "strategic layoffs" will also be revealed.

A Tesla representative confirmed the moves to the Reg this afternoon. It appears that Mr Drori will remain at Tesla, assuming the title "vice chairman" and remaining on the board, while Mr Musk assumes even greater day-to-day control of the firm.

Rumours had been circulating all day that changes at Tesla were afoot, with suggestions made that 100 employees might be let go in California - as much as half the existing staff. Mr Musk is expected to go into some detail on the corporate blog network as to just who will be departing, but the Reg was told that the higher figures are "grossly exaggerated". The layoffs are said to be "in response to the global liquidity crisis".

Tesla would certainly appear to be vulnerable to the credit crunch and general feeling of unease. The firm has ambitious plans, with a new model set to go into production, but has so far delivered just forty cars - and these have "intermediate" transmissions, unable to achieve the promised performance which Roadster buyers have paid high prices for.

Tesla has pledged to replace these transmissions at no further charge, which could easily wipe out much of the profit made on early deliveries. Meanwhile, the current tally of orders for the Roadster stands at just 1200.

As for the boardroom reshuffle, this may be no more than an acknowledgement of reality. Elon Musk is well known to be an extremely hands-on company chairman at Tesla, even to the extent of personally designing bodywork. As the main money man behind the company, his job - and that of any other Tesla employee - is pretty much whatever Mr Musk says it is. ®

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