Tesla is promoting 2012 as the Year of the Model S, but things are starting off with a bit of a set-back. Tesla spokesman Ricardo Reyes revealed that both Tesla vice president and chief engineer Peter Rawlinson and Nick Sampson, the Model S vehicle and chassis engineering supervisor, have left the company. The news caused TSLA stock to drop a record 19 percent, Bloomberg reported, and forced Tesla CEO Elon Musk to do a bit of damage control. On Twitter, Musk said, "Sometimes, it is not super fun to run a public company. The exec departure news at Tesla was way overstated."

Not everyone is convinced. 2953 Analytics Inc. principal consultant Jim Hall told Bloomberg that no matter why Rawlinson and Sampson left (Reyes said Rawlinson left for personal reasons while Sampson was finished with his work on the Model S before he left), "it doesn't look good. And for Tesla, looks are very important at this point."

Tesla has already found replacements. Jerome Guillen will take over for Rawlinson while Eric Bach will help the "the final stretch of bringing Model S into production," Musk told Bloomberg.

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