Tesla Acquires Perbix But Loses Key Talent

Bloomberg recently reported that Tesla acquired a supplier with a key focus on automating production to hopefully rectify the output challenges facing the Model 3. The automotive manufacturer has secured Perbix, a supplier the company has been working with over the past couple of years. This deal has been revealed in the wake of Tesla’s announcement of their production issues with the recently released electric vehicle on a corporate earnings conference call.

Currently, the specifics of the deal have not been revealed to the public but due to current circumstances, Tesla is looking for ways to ramp up yield rates for the Model 3 fast, which is already well behind schedule. Musk also stated that he and CTO JB Straubel are spending day and night at the Gigafactory trying to fix the bottleneck issue that has been plaguing the company. According to Musk, the major issue has fallen with one part of the four part battery assembly process.

In order to address the issue, which Musk claims resided with a supplier, the company has taken over this essential production process on its own. This involved them redesigning the element from a software and hardware perspective from scratch. As of now, it is not clear if the acquisition of Perbix was intended to improve production rates, but it seems the deal is centered on improving the all around manufacturing process.

Tesla also laid claim that the Model 3 production line is the most automated production line of any vehicle currently on the market, which is a primary reason the process is taking so long to perfect. Typically if a bottleneck occurs on a normal, less automated, production line the shortfall can be addressed with manual labor, Musk said during the call. The company expects once their automated systems are solidified and the process is hammered out, production woes should all be cleared up.

Also revealed today was the departure of yet another battery expert during this important time for the company. Jon Wagner, who worked under Straubel as Tesla’s Director of Battery Technology, has parted ways with the automaker to proceed with plans for his own startup. This move was confirmed on the executives Linkedin page where he now lists his job at a “battery and powertrain stealth startup” in Redwood, California. This move is especially concerning considering since Tesla’s key concerns lie with battery production.

Wagner made a name for himself in the Electric Vehicle community as the CTO of Mission Motors, which is widely known for their electric motorbike. The company also produced battery packs for other popular manufacturers, including project LiveWire for Harley-Davidson. Mission Motors eventually went bankrupt, which they attributed to Apple Poaching electric vehicle engineers from their company. Wagner left to join Tesla in 2013 where he took over a leadership role working on their batteries which at the time was led by Straubel and Senior Director Kurt Kelty, who also left Tesla recently.