Tesla's Vice President of Business Development Departs

Updated on
  • Diarmuid O’Connell joined Tesla in 2006, long before 2010 IPO
  • Exit comes amid Model 3 ramp and expansion of retail footprint

Tesla Inc.’s vice president of business development has left the company, the latest in a string of management departures as the electric-car maker ramps up production of the Model 3 sedan.

Diarmuid O’Connell, who joined Tesla in 2006, was one of the longest-serving executives at the automaker and one of the few who spoke on behalf of the company at industry conferences. He was a key point person in Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk’s state-by-state battles with auto dealers over the company’s right to sell cars directly to consumers.

Diarmuid O’Connell

Photographer: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

“For more than 11 years, Diarmuid has played an important role in helping Tesla grow from a small startup to a company with a presence around the world,” a Tesla spokesman said in an email. “He started with Tesla before the rollout of Roadster, and now that we’ve reached the launch of Model 3, he felt the time was right to move on and spend more time with his family.”

O’Connell’s team and responsibilities will be overseen by Jon McNeill, Tesla’s president of global sales and service, the company said.

Tesla turned over the first batch of Model 3 vehicles to employees in late July and aims to make 20,000 a month by December. As it seeks to sell a more affordable electric car in high volumes, it has cranked up the legal pressure over its right to eschew the traditional dealership model and sell cars directly to consumers.

“I’ve been privileged to be part of a team that sparked a revolution in global electromobility,” O’Connell said in a statement sent to Bloomberg News. “There is no turning back on the road to a world of electric vehicles and sustainable energy generation and use.”

O’Connell’s exit follows a spate of high-level management departures from the carmaker. Among the executives who have left the company this year are Kurt Kelty, director of battery technology; Chief Financial Officer Jason Wheeler and Chris Lattner, vice president of Autopilot software.

O’Connell, 53, lives near Aspen, Colorado, with his family and clocked thousands of miles of travel each year overseeing a business development and regulatory policy team of roughly 50 people.

The company, which went public in 2010 at $17 a share, rose 1 percent in New York Wednesday to close at $366.23.

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