According to leaked audio from a Tesla internal meeting, Chris Lister, VP of Gigafactory Operations, has left the company. Hrushikesh “Hrushi” Sagar was promoted to Gigafactory Manager.
In a message to staff heard by CNBC on Thursday, Sagar and other leaders discussed production rates in the company’s automobile plants as well as for its battery products, the Powerwall and Megapack.
They also discussed enhancements, such as a new wastewater treatment facility and increased power from the solar roof.
Tesla has restructured leadership at the Gigafactory, its massive battery manufacturing outside of Reno, Nevada, and has set new objectives for the facility.
According to audio from a Thursday meeting and documents shared with CNBC by people who work at the factory, former Vice President of Gigafactory Operations Chris Lister left Elon Musk’s electric vehicle and clean energy business this summer, and Hrushikesh “Hrushi” Sagar was promoted to oversee the Gigafactory. Sagar will report directly to CEO Elon Musk while also directing Tesla’s vehicle manufacturing factory in Fremont, California.
On Thursday afternoon, Sagar talked to a group of hundreds of Gigafactory employees on management changes, performance reviews, factory milestones, and aggressive new facility goals. He also revealed some details regarding Tesla’s factories in Austin, Texas, and outside of Berlin, Germany.
I genuinely respect what Chris Lister did here, Chris’s contribution, Sagar said shortly of Lister’s leaving. I’m grateful, as are Elon and Tesla, for his contributions, but we’re moving on to the next step.
Workers at the Gigafactory make battery packs and power trains for Tesla’s electric vehicles, as well as large backup batteries marketed by Tesla’s Energy subsidiary, the Powerwall and Megapack.
During the conference, Sagar said that Tesla produced over 134,000 vehicles in its Fremont, California, facility in the second quarter of 2022, and that August was one of Fremont’s most productive months. According to him, the Fremont factory can now produce roughly 12,000 cars per week and is aiming for 14,000 per week as its next target.
He also stated that Tesla’s team in Brandenburg, Germany, just achieved the capability of producing 1,000 cars on a rolling seven-day basis. Musk recently visited the German factory, which is expected to ramp up manufacturing to 5,000 vehicles per week by the end of 2022.
Tesla’s new factory in Austin, Texas also hit the 1,000-per-week manufacturing rate.
In terms of drive unit production, the Gigafactory “fed” the company’s Fremont and Austin operations in the second quarter of 2022, producing 283,473 power trains.
“You all had a significant part,” Sagar remarked. “I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart,” the Reno team said.
New Gigafactory leaders and objectives
Chris Lister spent 22 years at PepsiCo in precision manufacturing jobs before joining Tesla in late 2017. During his time at Tesla, the Gigafactory experienced rapid expansion as well as growing pains such as high volumes of scrap, fires, and oil spills. However, by increasing production there, he helped drive Tesla to the top-selling battery electric vehicle brand in the United States and around the world. Requests for comment from Lister and Tesla were not immediately returned.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Sagar’s new title is senior director of vehicle operations and manufacturing engineering.
On Thursday, Sagar advised staff that they should view of the Fremont factory as a “customer,” emphasising that vehicle manufacturing there succeeds or fails based on Gigafactory shipping volumes and quality.
While Sagar does not want to spend the most of his time in Reno, he will collaborate closely with plant leaders such as Energy Leader Matt Reddick, who joined the firm around six months ago, and Site Leader Eric Montgomery, who will manage day-to-day operations in Nevada. Other key leaders at the Gigafactory today include Jeff Jackson, who oversees the facility’s infrastructure, and Bert Somsin, the plant’s human resources director.
Montgomery informed Gigafactory staff at the same meeting on Thursday that they needed to reach a constant output of 8,800 high voltage battery packs per week to fulfil Fremont’s new production objectives and “maximise all-wheel-drive builds.
He also stated that August 2022 was the Gigafactory’s second-best month for production, trailing only October 2021.
According to Reddick, Tesla can currently create 42 massive Megapack batteries in a seven-day rolling timeframe. Megapacks are roughly the size of a shipping container and are used for utility-scale energy storage, frequently to store excess wind or solar energy.
Tesla expects to create 442 Megapacks in the third quarter of 2022, an increase of 85% over Megapack production in the previous three-month period.
The Gigafactory also hit and has exceeded a production rate of 6,500 Powerwalls per week. Powerwalls are the smaller backup batteries for household use that CEO Elon Musk recently touted on Twitter during California’s tremendous heatwave. The state urged citizens to minimise their electricity consumption during peak hours as a result of the heat wave.
Previously, Tesla forced consumers who wanted to purchase a Powerwall to also purchase a solar roof from the firm. Montgomery stated that the Nevada Gigafactory produced 37,600 Powerwalls in the second quarter and that the facility is on track to produce 22% more in the third quarter.
Regarding the facility itself, Jackson highlighted a new, advanced water treatment plant that Tesla is constructing on-site.
This will remove the outflow of our site process water, or wastewater, and allow for 98% water recycling and evaporation,” he explained. “It’s a huge deal, and it’s in line with our mission.
Jackson also provided an update on the solar roof at the Gigafactory. Right now, we have roughly eight megawatts on the roof that we can use on a daily basis, which is incredibly exciting,” said the infrastructure head.
Tesla is also developing a meditation space for staff and has a new food vendor on campus that serves poke bowls, and is improving the roads around the facility as well as installing more EV chargers.
Workers were encouraged to minimise the number of labour hours required to create a single unit of the items they build in their teams, as well as to file more “take control” notes about ways to improve safety and reduce costs around the factory.
According to Sagar, the company is getting past the steep workforce reduction that occurred in the second quarter of this year and is in the midst of a comprehensive performance evaluation process.
When asked if their stock grants will be related to corporate milestones this year, management answered no. However, human resources teams and managers are still determining who is eligible for promotions, raises, and bonuses. Managers, according to Sagar, should be discussing performance evaluations with their teams by the end of September.
Employees requested that management discuss if and where Tesla’s future factory should be built. Tesla’s lobbying activity in Canada, as well as the company’s prior investments in the country, have previously fueled talk of a Canadian-based plant.
I have some ideas on the candidates, Sagar said, “but I don’t think I’m at liberty right now to disclose those candidates due to the confidentiality around some of those things.” He did say, There is an exciting future for North America and all around the Americas.