Tesla’s former VP of Manufacturing Josh Ensign jumps ships for Proterra as COO assisting them in scaling up production
In May, two manufacturing executives Greg Reichow and Josh Ensign headed towards the exit doors of Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA), amid the production woes related to the Model X. While Mr. Reichow was actually reportedly going on a break after serving for about five years as VP of Production, there were no details about Mr. Ensign who was the manufacturing chief.
Mr. Ensign has been named the new chief operating officer at Proterra Inc., a Silicon Valley startup working on all-electric trucks and buses, making it a long term direct competitor to Tesla. The executive will be responsible for scaling up production.
Mr. Ensign said in a press release: “Mass transit in North America represents a $3 billion market opportunity, and my top priority will be to help Proterra establish a competitive U.S. manufacturing presence to meet market demand and to support the industry’s transition to an all-electric future.”
He is expected to assist the company in its next stage of “strategic growth” by increasing current operations at its facility in Greenville, SC and bringing online its LA County plant and battery production online by early next year. Proterra is aiming to triple its production capacity in LA County facility and start production by 2017 under Mr. Ensign’s leadership who will be managing the growing production.
The company was founded in 2004 and started selling buses in the following five years to Foothill Transit in Southern California. Up till now, it has delivered over 300 of its automobiles. In September, it showed a high-performance, electric bus called Catalyst E2 series, which is capable of travelling 350 miles per charge.
Mr. Ensign had been leading manufacturing operations at Tesla Factory in Fremont, CA from June 2014 to May 2016. Before that, he served at the automotive and aerospace division of Honeywell International in Geneva, Mexico, and Shanghai.
Proterra CEO Ryan Popple told Bloomberg: “His operational expertise is exactly what Proterra needs to bring the Catalyst mainstream and to maintain our pursuit of a clean, diesel-free future.” Since the US strives to go greener and greener with transportation being one of the biggest cause of carbon emissions, there is a lot of opportunity for the makers of battery-powered vehicles in the commercial markets.
Tesla is currently in early development stages of Tesla Semi and Minibus which are expected to be unveiled over the next six to nine months. We already know that the minibus will be using the Model X’s chassis and will have high people density.