Elon Musk: Tesla Model X gullwing doors aren’t a gimmick

November 28, 2010 – 10:47 am

In less than 90 minutes, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk squeezed more than a half dozen notable announcements and updates into the company’s annual shareholder meeting—many in response to shareholder questions.

It was a smorgasbord of little informational nuggets, some critically important to the company’s future. Musk even addressed the topic of when SpaceX, the rocket maker that Musk also leads, might go public. (For the record, Musk answered: “Once flights to Mars begin.”)

Before Musk took the stage, two shareholders submitted proposals asking Tesla to end the use of animal products in interior car features such as leather seating and to consider becoming the first cruelty-free premium car brand. Tesla’s board of directors recommended voting against both proposals. However, during the Q&A when a member of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals pressed Musk to offer leather-free materials, he responded, “We’ll look into it.”

Aside from vegan cars—which I suspect is low on the company’s to-do list—there are a number important changes underway at Tesla. Here’s what you might have missed.

CFO Deepak Ahuja is retiring

I cannot overstate what Tesla loses with Deepak Ahuja’s departure. One of the early executives at Tesla—and the company’s first CFO—Deepak Ahuja has a deep knowledge of the company’s operations as well as the broader automotive industry. He guided the company through its IPO in 2010 and through darker financial times, including 2013 when the struggling company almost sold to Google.

As Musk brought Ahuja on stage, he credited the CFO for “staying calm and steady through some incredibly difficult times.”

“I’ve discovered more potential in myself than I could have imagined, ” Ahuja said, with a knowing smile directed at Musk while on stage at the shareholder’s meeting. The company broadcast the meeting over the web from the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.

Ahuja, who was an executive Ford Motor prior to joining Tesla, will remain in his position until the company hires a new CFO and will continue to be involved after to ensure a smooth transition, the company said.

Model X deliveries will begin in three to four months

The date hasn’t changed—and that’s the important detail. It was more than three years ago when Musk revealed an early prototype of the Model X. Since then, at least 20, 000 people have plunked down $5, 000 to secure a reservation for the crossover sport utility vehicle with falcon-winged rear doors and seating for seven.

The date has been pushed back numerous times. Earlier this year, Musk said the company would start delivering the Model X late in the third quarter. Musk reiterated that same timeline during the shareholder’s meeting.

Source: fortune.com

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