Embattled Tesla co-founder Elon Musk has retained his position as chairman after an investor attempted to oust him.

By Daniel Herborn

Posted on June 6, 2018

Musk serves as both CEO and chairman at Tesla but has been under pressure lately to relinquish at least one of the roles.

At Tesla’s annual meeting in Mountain View California on Tuesday, however, a proposal to end his tenure as chairman did not get enough votes. Similarly, a move to push out three board members (including James Murdoch, CEO of 21st Century Fox) who were up for re-election failed.

The company said Musk and the board members were returned by a “super majority”, but did not release the results of the vote. CtW Investment Group, which had supported the effort to replace Musk as chairman, called on the company to release the results.

“Given the substantial insider holdings, these results are not a surprise,” it wrote in an email to the Los Angeles Times. Only once we have the specifics will it be possible to interpret the expectations of Tesla’s unaffiliated investors.”

Tesla is legally obliged to reveal the numbers of the vote when it files the record of the meeting with government authorities. This will occur within four days.

Some investors had become unhappy with Musk’s leadership partly because Tesla has not met its production goals on its Model 3 car, pitched as a more affordable vehicle. This issue is seen as vital to the company’s long-term future.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Musk vowed the company would reach its goal of producing 5,000 Model 3 cars a week by the end of June 2018.

The result of the vote means Musk will continue to occupy dual roles in the company in which he holds a 20% stake.

The result of the vote means Musk will continue to occupy dual roles in the company

After it was confirmed he had survived as chairman, Musk spoke with emotion and showed a little-seen vulnerable side. At times, his voice broke and he had to pause to compose himself.

“This is the most excruciating, hellish several months I’ve ever had,” he told the meeting.

“This is going to sound a little cheesy, but at Tesla, we build our cars with love. At a lot of other companies, they’re built by like the marketing or the finance department and there’s no soul, you know?

“We’re not perfect, but we pour our heart and soul into the product and we really care.”

In May this year, Musk had been criticised for evading questions from investors during a public earnings call.

Some analysts have described Tuesday’s vote as a missed opportunity to hold Musk more accountable.

Tesla’s big plans for China

Robin Ren, Tesla’s worldwide Head of Sales, told the meeting that the company will build a new Gigafactory in Shanghai, China. This would be its first factory outside of the US and would allow the company to bypass Chinese import tariffs.

The new facility would be a ‘Gigafactory’. The term was coined by the company for its lithium-ion battery factory, located in Storey County, Nevada. Another facility in Buffalo, New York is known as Gigafactory 2.

Musk said the Shanghai factory would be advantageous in that it could produce batteries and manufacture vehicles in the same location.

Beyond that, details of the factory were limited, but Musk said Tesla may make an announcement on the new factory “as soon as next month”.

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