Lucid Group CEO and CTO Peter Rawlinson refuted Elon Musk’s claims that he was not Chief Engineer of Tesla’s flagship electric car, the Model S, in a recent interview with HBO Axios. Rawlinson and Musk, former co-workers at Tesla, evidently have not gotten along since the now-CEO of Lucid Group left the company.
Rawlinson has led Lucid Group to the production and initial deliveries of its first electric car, the Lucid Air Dream Edition, which occurred on October 31st. However, in Rawlinson’s tenure of Lucid, he has garnered the respect of many EV enthusiasts, but Musk does not appear to be one of them. Rawlinson has stated on several occasions during interviews as Lucid CEO that much of his EV expertise comes from his experience as Chief Engineer of the Model S program at Tesla in the early 2010s. However, Musk has disputed this claim on several occasions, the most recent being in May 2021.
“Rawlinson was never chief engineer. He arrived after Model S prototype was made, left before things got tough & was only ever responsible for body engineering, not powertrain, battery, software, production, or design,” Musk Tweeted.
Rawlinson said during his Axios interview that his business cards from Tesla listed his job description as “Model S Chief Engineer.” His LinkedIn page also states that his job post at Tesla was “Vice President and Chief Engineer for Model S.” Additionally, he stated that the SEC filings from Tesla during his employment at the company also listed him as Chief Engineer of the Model S. In fact, in an 8-K document filed with the SEC on December 16, 2010, Tesla does list Rawlinson as “Vice President and Chief Engineer.” While it does not indicate Rawlinson was VP and Chief Engineer of the Model S specifically, that would have been the only vehicle Tesla had in development at the time. According to the same presentation, Tesla was planning to complete alpha builds, external body design and engineering, safety and structural design, supplier sourcing, and site preparation for the Model S in 2010.
In response to Musk’s claims, Rawlinson stated, “I think it’s sort of historical revisionism, isn’t it?”
The story does not stop there. Musk has also stated in the past that “Rawlinson didn’t design Model S. Prototype was done before he joined & he left us in the lurch just as things got tough, which was not cool. He did make some contributions to body/chassis engineering, but not to powertrain, battery, electronics or software.” However, Rawlinson also commented on his reasons for leaving Tesla in 2012, which included his elderly mother needing his assistance “and I had a boss that wasn’t treating me too well.”
A portion of Rawlinson’s interview is available below.