Tesla Annual Meeting: CFO Retiring, Model X Delivered In 3-4 Months, Autopilot Arrives In June

JUN 10 2015 BY JAY COLE 45

On Tuesday evening, Tesla CEO Elon Musk unexpectedly told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting that Deepak Ahuja, Tesla’s only Chief Financial Officer so far, would be retiring later this year after seven years in that role.

Before he leaves, Musk said that Mr. Ahuja will be assisting the company in finding his own replacement.

Model X On Track For First Deliveries In Next 3-4 Months

Model X On Track For First Deliveries In Next 3-4 Months

From a packed house at the Computer Museum in Mountain View, California, the former Ford executive said that he will “miss the energy” of working at Tesla and that it was a “difficult decision” to leave.

“My time at Tesla has been a nonstop adrenaline rush,” Ahuja said in a statement to Reuters, “It is time for me to check a few things off my bucket list and pursue other life goals”

The CFO didn’t say exactly what was left to do on his bucket list (hopefully it doesn’t have anything to do with Apple).

Mr. Ahuja is 51 years old.

Separately, the Tesla CEO said that the Model X is still on track for late Fall deliveries by re-stating first deliveries “in three to four months”.

As for the vehicle itself, Mr. Musk noted that he is testing-driving the Model X now (as one would hope being within a couple months of release), and that the company is focused on the primary aspects of the vehicle and that they are functioning properly – such as the sliding rear seats, and the often talked about Falcon Wing doors.

Musk said he is pleased with its progress and that it will be the safest SUV around, “It’s got to be a genuine improvement in utility and aesthetics.”

Four Systems, Including Forward Looking Radar And Sonar Assist In Tesla's New "Auto Pilot" Feature

Four Systems, Including Forward Looking Radar And Sonar Assist In Tesla’s New “Auto Pilot” Feature Which Starts Its Rollout In June

Tesla also said that it will offer an early version of its Autopilot self-driving feature (on a limited/beta basis) that includes “auto-steering” for the Model S sedan by the end of June.  At some point it is expected that Model S owners will be able to autonomously summon their vehicles; at least while on private property and in parking garages.


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45 Comments on "Tesla Annual Meeting: CFO Retiring, Model X Delivered In 3-4 Months, Autopilot Arrives In June"

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To be very clear: autopilot 1.0 (as Musk calls it) *could be* be made available in late June to *beta testers* only, not to the public. The internal testing first needs to pass, which sounds like it’s not close to being complete based on Elon’s comments that “some days it gets worse” (and some days it does get better). The beta firmware will then be distributed to a very small set of non-Tesla drivers of the Model S who have no doubt signed a bunch of waivers and NDAs. Then after weeks (if not months) of further testing and feedback, the public “at large” may get Autopilot as it was described in Oct. 2014. I wouldn’t be surprised if it took a full year to bring to market, which happens to coincide with the Model X launch.

Elon Musk said auto pilot will be made available to limited number of Model S owners the auto pilot program “kinda like public beta testers.”

the model X announcement is going to present an interesting next step marketing test. my theory is that: where the model S was in the market segment with cars like the s-class ‘benz or 7 series bmw; the model X will be in the market segment with cars like the e-class ‘benz or 5 series bmw. so this will be a really good test case for testing to see how a BEV will do in the mid-high end auto market. my guess is that cars in this segment are more likely to be daily drivers than is the case for cars at the top end segment.

The E Class and 5 Series are mid sized sedans.

Model X will compete with premium full sized crossovers.

Porsche Cayenne,BMW x5 x6, Audi Q7,MB M Class.

And to a lesser extent Lexus GX460,Acura MDX,Infiniti QX70,Lincoln MKT, and Cadillac SRX.

i was a bit sloppy in my comments but what i was trying to suggest is that i think that the model X will be priced in the $55,000 to $60,000 range for a base model.

The Model X is a bigger vehicle than the Model S, so expecting a lower price for the X than the S is like expecting a lower price for the S P85D than for the S 70D. It is no realistic because the cost to build it is higher in the first place.

you might be right, but it seems to me that it is going to be difficult to sell a $130,000 crossover vehicle.

I guess even the Model X signature P100D will be cheaper than that.

The MB 350-e has been selling well (300 in two months)in the Netherlands but only has very limited electric only running of about 30km’s:

I would be highly surprised if auto-pilot makes it to cars in the next 5 years. Maybe it will on the next model S, but I think that the general legality and responsibility of self driving cars is still up for debate. While research and development cars may be licensed for self driving on public roads, I doubt that the consumer at large will be allow to do so.

Should that even happen, that consumers can purchase and use self-driving cars, transitioning the functionality from “working” to “good” is still a big step and a lot of work. If Tesla and other car companies want to make self-driving cars a reality for the customer, then delivering a working, but uncomfortable product to the customer would likely do more ill than good.

Auto Pilot is not self driving or autonomous driving.

Tesla driver will still be required to pay attention and be fully responsible legally. Like a pilot in a plane is still responsible for the plane when it is on auto pilot.

In the not too distant future there will be more people having legal problems because they want to control the car for driving pleasure. When the computer is far safer.

There is really no basis for saying computer driven cars are far safer.

I think the Google Self-Driving Car car team has the facts and figures to dispute that rather firmly. They have the experience of millions of miles driven by self-driving cars.

Now admittedly it seems probable that the Google cars can’t drive everywhere; probably only on certain types of roads, and I’m guessing only where Google has carefully scanned the actual road from street level, to provide navigating data.

But within their boundaries, they’ve been proven quite safe.

That would be a nice Terminator scenario where people get ghat naive to give over their car driving entirely to a computer and then you have skynet just killing masses of humans by sending millions of cars driving off cliff or simply head on into each other or even being used to smash pedestrians on the sidewalks. All that taking place at once exactly at the same moment.

Limited autopilot makes more sense but it should be an option clearly isolated financially from the rest of the car. The last thing we want is an electric car that would be more expensive than a gas car, not because of the battery, but because the costly autopilot or self driving feature would be imposed on the buyers and the development burden would be left on the global company budget. The very least would be to clearly separate that activity from the rest of the more normal ev related car activity of the company.

I can’t see how Tesla can do autonomous driving on the Model S without rearward facing radar and camera. Presently, the rear of the Model S has only sensors with a 15-foot range. How is the Model S going to autonomously change lanes when passing if it can’t see more than 15 feet behind it to determine that there are no fast approaching car in the left lane? For instance, what would happen if you were autonomously driving 70 mph on the autobahn and your Model S autonomously tried to pass someone while Bjørn Nyland is barreling down the fast lane at 125 mph? Your rear sensors wouldn’t see Bjorn’s car until it was too late.


Changing lanes requires the driver to check that it is safe and flick the turn signal to tell the car to change lanes. The car will never pass a car by itself. Remember, Tesla is calling it “autopilot” and never intended it to be a fully autonomous vehicle. Elon says the technology is still a couple years away before they can do such a car.

As has already been said, Tesla’s “Autopilot” is not autonomous driving. That’s mostly hype. What it is, is driver assist features that mostly have already been implemented by other luxury car makers. Tesla is playing catch-up here, and trying to turn a negative into a positive by labeling their driver assist “Autopilot”, as if they already have a fully autonomous system. Clearly they’ve been successful at that, because a lot of people think “Autopilot” actually means what the label suggests. Look at what Musk actually claims: That the “Autopilot” will allow 90% automatic driving on restricted access highways. In other words, the car can follow the car in front of it, and won’t wander off the road. That’s all Tesla is actually claiming. You can’t use it on roads where there is two-way traffic, and I suspect it can’t deal with stop signs or stop lights. Tesla did demonstrate automatic lane-changing in their rollout demo at an airport, but not on public roads. There are several rather convincing analyses that show it’s impossible for the lane-changing feature to operate safely in any condition where you might have another car approaching at faster than about a 15 MPH difference in speed.… Read more »

This sudden CFO departure and the explanation has a strange tone to it. We shall see…

I maintain my prediction that Tesla has a huge dilution and capital round ahead, either in late 2015 or in 2016.

Many strange tones with Tesla lately. It seems that one day Elon will win it all but there will be no more friends left standing next to him. I wonder how long will JB stick around…

the “bucket list” comment did come across as an odd statement: it gives the impression that he was really saying that he was fed up with working there.

It won’t. At their current valuation they can raise tons of cash with minimal dilution. Just 5% dilution gets you $1.7 Billion, which would tide them over well past 2017 and the Model III.

If they do that once the Model X is ramped up and their production rate is 100K per year, the market will respond positively. Support for Tesla is very deep. You can short it on a trading basis but if your thesis is that the stock will collapse over the next few years, you will lose your shirt.

sudden CFO departure,around this(critical) times,might signals many things…….but good.Watch the stock market todays reaction…..Investors might react somewhat stronger,than commentators here.

It struck me as “I have made a shed load of money here and I need rest “

How odd to try to label the CFO’s departure as “sudden”, given that he’s going to stick around long enough to help find a replacement.

In 2012, two senior engineers left Tesla shortly before the Model S debuted. The investor forums were abuzz with Tesla bashers trying to convince us this signaled disaster for the Model S.


Well, it did no such thing, now did it? The Model S has been a spectacular success for Tesla Motors. I rather suspect the the CFO leaving is just as irrelevant to Tesla’s ongoing success.

I find it amazing that so often a departure of an executive from a company prompts speculation that “something is wrong”. People quit for many reasons; personal, health, family, or just because they don’t like the people they find themselves working with.

I agree with everything you say. I have a question about another exec, though.

Gilbert Passin’s name hasn’t appeared on Tesla’s site as VP of manufacturing for about six months now. There’s only someone else listed as VP of production. Anyone know anything about that?

Also of note: single motor, rear wheel drive will be standard on the Model 3. AWD will cost extra.

It would be better (for the snowy states) if they reversed that. FWD always handles mucho better on the ice.

not an issue for Tesla the electric motors, low center of gravity, ABS and traction control, all end up meaning no issues with winter traction even when rear wheel drive.

Do you speak from experience, Doug?

I rather doubt that’s true, given my personal experience with rear wheel vs. front wheel drive cars when there is snow or slush on the roads. A low center of gravity can’t make up for the benefit of positive traction when the front wheels pull the car in the direction you want it to go, rather than having the rear wheels push the car in the direction of least resistance when sliding around on a slick road.

Gas cars with front wheel drive tend to have a weight ratio towards 60/40. EVs designed from the ground up tend to have weight ratios closer to 50/50. The difference in weight distribution between front and rear makes the type of drive train less important for winter traction.

another factor is the weight in general some EVs are heavier than cars of the same cargo capacity and end up being more stable due to the density.

Per http://www.teslamotors.com/support/model-s-specifications Weight distribution Front 48%, Rear 52%

for comparison vs Tesla some common cars front/rear are:

Camry is about 62/38
Civic is about 61/39
Prius is about 60/40

Leaf is about 56/44

Model S is about 48/52

Traction can be poor on a ICE with a big heavy front engine and rear wheel drive but that isn’t the only possible configuration.

Heck back in the day (1952) this paper said the optimal layout was 40/60 with rear wheel drive. http://papers.sae.org/2006-01-1952/

Maybe you’ve also missed all the positive reviews from people living in Norway?


further the traction control on an electric motor can react in tenths of the much longer lag between throttle request and throttle response on a ICE.

Electric is near instantaneous, Gas is laggy.

So once you go EV you can have the computer keep you out of some types of trouble. Nothing is foolproof you can still drive off into a ditch if you try but for anyone with a brain and halfway decent tires the EV will do just fine even with rear wheel drive.

oops, make that “tenths of a second” vs more than a second for an ICE vehicle. Hopefully you can correct that sentence in the prior post in your head.

That’s the first I’d heard of which two wheels would drive the car, but it is as I feared. You get more regeneration from the front wheels, too. Disappointing.

Both points make sense in favor of front wheel drive. In more, the absence of motor between the wheels in the back would allow to place more batteries there which would increase range.

Now that surprises me. I thought that the flexibility offered by two motors (and perhaps two different gear ratios) might improve energy efficiency, and thus might help Tesla reach the electric range it wants for the Model ≡ with a slightly smaller battery pack.

Apparently the added expense of two motors, two gearboxes etc. isn’t counterbalanced by slightly improved overall efficiency.

For a same battery all wheel drive can improve range but in absolute you gain more range when you remove the weight and cost of the second motor and add more battery accordingly.

If auto pilot drives like ELR’s ACC, it’s no bueno. ELR drives like a teenager. There is not enough anticipation and slow reaction time to changes in the lead car’s velocity. A lot of times, I have to take over because the system doesn’t decelerate fast enough. It really eats up the gap/buffer-zone before braking and then it brakes very hard. When accelerating, it takes off too slow and then accelerates too fast and keeps accelerating when the detected car is already slowing down. It handles cars changing lanes very poorly as well.

Lane detection is not good enough right now either. In Texas, lanes are not marked very well and there are lanes that merge together oddly (compared to other States). I turned lane detection off as it was quite annoying.

Looking forward to what GM has to offer for auto-pilot or Super Cruise.

I just thought of this when I saw the picture of the doors up in a garage — do you think the falcon wing doors have enough clearance for the typical garages, given the garage door openers hang down quite a bit from the ceiling? how tall does the car reach off the floor with the doors open?

This is a common question … the doors have sensors that control how they open and provide collision avoidance. Expect with a low ceiling the tradeoff is the width of parking a stall as with double joints, the doors could adjust to a wider swing stance.

Note. the photo above is from the initial concept X, and the Model X has had much design refinement since. Have yet to seen an updated photo in the last year with the Falcon doors open.

The Model X is 3 or 4 months away from delivery … and always will be.

I instead believe they will deliver on time, although maybe to a limited number of customers. I would not be surprised if soon a Model X with “normal” doors follows. Those falcon doors & its induced delays might come down in history as a godsend to competition, giving them time to catch up.

I hope you are wrong. Tesla is the reason why you and I have a Leaf.

I don’t think so.

Volt buyers can thank Tesla. Leaf buyers should thank Carlos Ghosn. His agenda is independent from Musk’s. It has to do with the fact that he wants to greatly expand car sales in the third world (and is doing it), and he is aware that this is not sustainable without a shift to EVs.

tftf said:

“I maintain my prediction that Tesla has a huge dilution and capital round ahead, either in late 2015 or in 2016.”

And how many years have you been predicting that same thing?

It really is too bad that short-selling Tesla bashers feel compelled to post comments on every single article about Tesla that is in any way related to financial matters.

Personally, I consider it trolling.

Tesla bashers appear to be working primarily off the financial sheets. If you showed the quarterlies to a business person and did not give a company name, they may have concerns. If Tesla can “call up money at will” from wall street, then they will be fine. But for the bigger picture they do need to do something in order to assure investors they will manage cash well long-term. They just bought the Solyndra plant, keep spending all over the place and relatively have a flat order rate for Model S and Model X cars, perhaps slightly ahead of the rate started when the ‘D’ was announced. There are some concerns among the shorts that the battery storage business was heralded as a possible hedge against any potential short-fall in car sales into the next couple years. Which is a smart business decision. And, the CFO is leaving so basically it may be his reaction to the non-standard spending rates that other executives are undergoing as they try to “impress” their way into growth. It’s hard to know if he is leaving for his own sanity or for other reasons but I am sure he was kept at the office… Read more »