Kelty joined Tesla in 2006 after more than 14 years at Panasonic. He was instrumental in the negotiations with Panasonic for their partnership at Tesla's Gigafactory in Nevada. His departure comes after those of Tesla Chief Financial Officer Jason Wheeler and Autopilot head Chris Lattner earlier this year. Tesla confirmed to Bloomberg that Kelty "has left the company to explore other opportunities," and that his responsibilities will be "distributed among Tesla's existing teams."
While the departure of another key figure at such a critical time seems like a tough blow for Tesla, Kelty has actually left the company in better shape than when he signed on, as Engadget points out. He helped the company expand, brokered big deals with suppliers, and helped set up the infrastructure Tesla needs to deliver its expanding product lineup (which goes beyond electric cars to home and commercial energy storage, as well as solar panels and roof tiles). He rode with Tesla through uncertain times, and the company appears to be more stable because of it going forward, even though Kurt Kelty has moved on.