Electrek has learned that Mateo Jaramillo, Vice-President at Tesla Energy and one of the early members of the company’s stationary storage effort, is leaving Tesla after 7 years. The company’s energy storage division has undergone a restructuring over the last few months ahead of the merger with SolarCity, but a source familiar with the situation told us that Jaramillo’s departure from the company is unrelated to the recent shake-up at Tesla Energy.
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CEO Elon Musk once compared working at Tesla to being in the Special Forces:
“…the general understanding is that if you’re at Tesla, you’re choosing to be at the equivalent of the Special Forces. There’s the regular Army, and that’s fine, but if you are working at Tesla, you’re choosing to step up your game. And that has pluses and minuses. It’s cool to be Special Forces, but it also means you’re working your ass off.”
Seven years of Special Forces is a long time and our understanding is that Jaramillo is taking a break.
He joined Tesla back in 2009 as Director of Powertrain Business Development. At that time, Tesla was starting to work with other OEM to develop electric powertrains, namely for Toyota second generation Rav4 EV, Mercedes’ Smart EV and later Mercedes’ Electric B-Class.
Two years prior to Jaramillo coming on board, Tesla co-founder and former CEO, Martin Eberhard, launched the predecessor of ‘Tesla Energy’, ‘Tesla Energy Group’. The new division aimed to produce battery packs for other automakers and potentially for stationary energy storage.
In a since-deleted blog post, Eberhard explains the goal of the new Tesla division:
Tesla Energy Group is a group within Tesla Motors, Inc. created to allow us to design and sell Energy Storage Systems (ESS) to other companies.
Eberhard put Bernard Tse, a member of Tesla board of directors at the time, in charge of the new division.
Unfortunately, things were difficult at Tesla in 2007-2008 and Eberhard was replaced as CEO, leaving Tesla not long after. The company refocused its limited resources on the Roadster that had yet to start production and Tse also left the company. He started Atieva, now known as Lucid Motors, to enter the same business as ‘Tesla Energy Group’ – making energy storage systems for OEM.
Elon Musk took over as CEO of Tesla, and not long after Jaramillo, a Harvard and Yale-educated businessman, joined to lead the powertrain business and to star the stationary energy storage effort. He also participated in the early deployment of the Supercharger network.
In 2014, he became Director of Tesla Energy to focus his effort on the stationary energy storage business, which was only officially launched in April 2015 – 8 years after the original ‘Tesla Energy Group’. Drew Baglino, a longtime engineer at Tesla, led the engineering effort behind the project under CTO JB Straubel. Like Jaramillo, he was promoted to Vice-President earlier this year after the successful launch of Tesla Energy.
Over the last year, Jaramillo focused his efforts on the regulatory and political aspects of the energy storage business. He was also the team member representing the division at conferences, as he did two weeks ago at the US Energy Storage Summit.
Jaramillo’s vision in energy storage will certainly be missed – he was working on the relatively new technology years before joining Tesla and a decade before the launch of Tesla Energy – but the company is also gaining some heavy weights to led regulatory and political aspects of the energy sector, including former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chairman Jon Wellinghoff, who is currently SolarCity’s Chief Policy Officer.