Tesla, Powertrain and a Changing World

This is how the world changes.

This is how the world changes.

When you see an announcement about someone who is been named “vice president, Powertrain Operations” at an automotive company, you figure that that person probably worked her or his way up in the company in question or has come to the company having had a solid career at a competitive company or a place like ZF or FEV or the like.

But there’s the announcement about Greg Reichow being named vp of Powertrain Operations at Tesla. . .and it is a whole different thing. As in his previous employers:

· SunPower. A solar panel system provider. (It has recently signed an agreement with Ford for providing a means to charge the Focus Electric, but pretty much is a company that focuses on providing systems for homes and other buildings.)

· Cypress Semiconductor. To quote from its website, as we’re not exactly sure we get much of this: Cypress offerings include the flagship PSoC® programmable system-on-chip families and derivatives such as PowerPSoC® solutions for high-voltage and LED lighting applications, CapSense® touch sensing and TrueTouch™ solutions for touchscreens. Cypress is the world leader in USB controllers, including the high-performance West Bridge® solution that enhances connectivity and performance in multimedia handsets. Cypress is also a leader in high-performance memories and programmable timing devices.” Apparently it does supply auto, but that doesn’t seem like the core of its business by any stretch.

Clearly, those companies make stuff. Fairly complicated stuff. And that is a way that powertrains can be described. And when the powertrain in question is for an electric vehicle, then it gets somewhat more complicated (let’s face it, with a 100+ year history of spark- and compression-ignition manufacturing of powertrains, companies have gotten damn good at working out these complexities).


Detail of the Tesla Model S powertrain

No one can simply assume what “Powertrain Operations” means anymore. And the announcement from Telsa proves it.