Tesla snags Amazon executive to lead energy division
- Tesla has tapped Sanjay Shah to lead its energy operations, including deployment of its Powerwall and Powerpack storage products and its solar efforts. Shah was previously vice president of Amazon's North American fulfillment centers.
- Shah replaces Cal Lankton, vice president of energy sales operations, who is retiring and previously led the energy group. Last month, Bloomberg reported Tesla had suffered a series of high-level departures and was planning a management reorganization.
- Shah joins Tesla as the pioneering company's CEO, Elon Musk, has hinted it could announce "a gigawatt-hour scale" energy storage project in the near future.
Tesla does not typically announce hires outside of the C suite, as Electrek.co points out, and so its announcement of a pair of hires — Shah and Jan Oehmicke, a European vice president — was somewhat unusual, especially in light of recent chatter of a high turnover rate at the company.
As the senior vice president of energy operations, Shah will be "responsible for worldwide deployment and operations of Tesla's energy products, including Solar, Powerwall and Powerpack," the company said. Tesla has indicated its longer-term strategy is to shift some of its focus and catch up with a backlog of demand for its Powerwall residential storage product.
Tesla's annual shareholder meeting is Tuesday, and Business Insider reports there may be a shakeup as shareholders vote on whether to replace some board members, including Musk's brother, Kimball Musk.
The company has struggled to ramp up its vehicle production and turn a profit, but the energy division has been a bright spot in the news. Musk's flair for flamboyance was on show last year when he told South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill that Tesla could build a 100 MW storage system in 100 days. Now there is talk of going larger. Much larger.
A month ago, Musk teased the idea of "a gigawatt-hour scale" energy storage project. The success in Australia has caught the the attention of utilities and is creating demand for even larger projects, he said.
The company has said it plans to triple energy storage sales this year.
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