Now Bob Lutz, a frequent Tesla critic and former GM executive, said in an appearance on CNBC that the time has come for Musk to step aside as CEO.
"I think Elon is tired, he's worn out, he's obviously got some emotional problems. He's self medicating," Lutz said. "He has shown some disturbing signs of being somewhat volatile and unstable. I think the right solution for Tesla at this point is to move him aside from day-to-day operations, let him have a four-week vacation and really get himself back into shape, and then appoint him non-executive chairman."
Lutz drew the comparison with Ford, where Bill Ford Jr. stepped down from the role of CEO in 2006 when the company brought in Alan Mulally to lead it through a dire financial crisis. Ford Jr. remained as chairman, a role he has served since 1998.
"Elon Musk is brilliant, he has the vision, but he's very poor at executing, he's poor at delegating, and he obviously has a little bit of difficulty controlling himself," Lutz added. "What he needs is a solid, blocking and tackling, good, seasoned executive to run the operation."
Lutz, a retired veteran of GM, BMW, Ford and Chrysler, has been a frequent critic of money-losing Tesla and Musk over the years, popping off most recently at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale to suggest that collectors buy a Model S "while they're still available" since Tesla was "perennially running out of cash."
But he did offer some praise for Musk in the CNBC interview, saying that Tesla's board should "keep him as the visionary, keep him as the titular head of the company, and give him the honor and respect that as founder of the company he deserves. But that company needs professional management, and it needs it now."
Lutz's on-screen partner in the interview, NYU management professor JP Eggers, said he believed Tesla's stock would rise if Musk were to depart the company. But he added, "I honestly have a hard time seeing him doing anything other than being completely involved or walking completely away. He's tenacious. That's what's made him successful to this point."
Meanwhile, Musk doesn't appear to have slowed down one iota since the interview with the Times was published. In an interview with YouTuber Marques Brown, he teased the idea of Tesla building a $25,000 electric vehicle in "three years," ignoring the automaker's own lengthy to-do list. And early Sunday, he responded to an open letter from Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington urging him to find a healthier work-life balance by saying, essentially, that it ain't gonna happen.
Shares of Tesla continued their post-Times interview fall Monday, opening below $300 and staying well below their pre-interview level of $335.25.
Ford & Tesla are the only 2 American car companies to avoid bankruptcy. I just got home from the factory. You think this is an option. It is not.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 19, 2018