Tesla is having a hard time as the company is racing to improve the production of the Model 3 not only to catch up on its backlog but also to avoid serious damage to its bottom line. It is slightly unusual, then, that one of the key executives of the EV maker is taking a break from it all. The company has confirmed that Doug Field, its Senior VP and the head of engineering, is “taking some time off to recharge” and “spend time with his family.” It emphasised that Field “has not left” the team. There is no official word on how long Field will be away. However, sources of Wall Street Journal described the leave as a “six-week sabbatical.”
Field has been very instrumental in the engineering and production of Tesla since 2013 when he jumped over from Apple. However, his break comes soon after Elon Musk began personally overseeing the production of the Model 3 in April. The CEO has confessed that Tesla jumped too quickly into automated production, thus creating bottlenecks that resulted in delays on the goal of producing 5,000 Model 3s per week from its original late 2017 target to June. The sabbatical was not necessarily prompted by the abrupt change of Field in responsibility. However, it is easy to see that this is as an opportunity to regroup at a stressful moment.
Just what will happen when Field comes back is not clear. However, it is safe to say that he will have a lot on his plate even if the production of Model 3 improves as promised. Tesla is in the middle of one of the most aggressive expansions of the company to date, with plans to launch its Semi truck, Model Y crossover and new Roadster within the coming two years. In that light, it is not surprising that he took a break — he will be putting his nose to the grindstone for a long while.