Published on November 9, 2019 |
by Zachary Shahan
9. November 2019 by Zachary Shahan
I recently met a gentleman named David Havasi while loading our Tesla Model 3 at a ChargePoint station on a Whole Foods I visit frequently. He recognized me from CleanTechnica and I quickly learned that he worked in Tesla for 7 years, until recently. We got to talk, talk, talk and talk. I wasn't sure if he would be shy about repeating some of what he told me (or more) on camera, but it turned out he wasn't very shy – he had actually worked on Broadway before working on Tesla!
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To start our first on-camera interview, I got some background on David, who was raised by a professional Detroit gear head. His father had actually helped design the now dominant crossover style, which David humorously relayed was a strange sounding idea when his father excitedly explained it to him many years ago.
From that girth-head background and a deep passion to help protect our climate and environmental resources, David found out about AC Propulsion tzero (read our exclusive, fascinating piece on tzero if you haven't already) in 2013, and then Soon after the Tesla Roadster, he got super excited about electric vehicles. (David's Broadway background kicked in well at this time, helping to animate the story – I recommend watching.)
Interestingly, David noted that it was the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that really pushed him to get in in the industry, which pushed him to try to get a job at Tesla. This was in 2010. With such wild years (for Tesla and politically), it seems that lifetimes have passed since then, but that was less than a decade ago. We discussed in a little wonder how far Tesla has come since then. Back in 2010, Tesla was almost unknown. A story about Tesla would be a short sidebar from Motor Trend . "Tesla clickbait" was definitely nothing!
After a brief sidebar about lingo from the 90's and 00's, David talked a little about the early Tesla recruitment process and how he started in the Tesla team that started with a meeting in Palo Alto in 2010 and then his eventual employment in May 2012.
He also discussed early roles at Tesla, and how much the unique corporate culture of "builders" and everyone who "ultra hardcore" led to its success. We talked about how the culture has changed a bit and how trying to maintain the deep essence of Tesla is an ongoing process. "The ultra hardcore mentality cannot be an archaic performance from a bygone era," said David. "We cannot be complacent," was his critical farewell message to colleagues as he left the company earlier this year.
When he returned to 2012, he noticed how empty and "post-apocalyptic" the Fremont factory seemed. Tesla used only about 10% of the space, and David had some funny stories of cycling across the empty site from one side to the other, including a funny story of seeing Elon along the way and circling back to spy on him again. We also talked about how different the factory is today, how impressive it is, and my first big impression from our tour of the factory earlier this year: "The world inside Tesla is completely different from the media portrayal of Tesla."  interesting bit of David shared is that Elon and Jerome, at least lately, demanded at least two incremental improvements a week at the factory.
We got a brief discussion about Tesla's Easter Eggs, humor, and Tesla's many literary and film references, including a funny story about Jamie Lee Curtis and Christopher Guest experiencing a "beat it up to 11" joke while driving a Tesla Model S. David also noticed a funny Monty Python tweet he sent out a while back that Elon Musk responded to and then Eric Idle from Monty Python also answered. David talked a little about how the younger staff at Tesla misses some of those references that are so well known to our generations, like " All our patents belong to you ," that made me think of one of the last joke articles, an article that many loved but others were confused by. In case you missed it, the article was “All the Problems with our New Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus.” Fortunately, David was a fan of the article and even called it poetic! He actually had some thoughtful philosophical reflections on the glossy article. Admittedly, so beyond the theme of that part of the discussion, I think that's what got us most animated and enthusiastic. That said, David is very enthusiastic throughout the interview and definitely relays more interesting and important stories throughout the conversation. It is worth watching, so I hope you will now go click on play and watch or listen to the conversation.
We wrapped up the conversation and talked about elementary school enthusiasm around Tesla, Elon Musk's role as a legendary historical figure, how the media narrative around Elon has distorted the story of his life and business career, David's first days at Tesla, and Tesla achieved "the impossible." There's a lot in there that can't be summed up in text, but I think you now have a good overview of what's in the conversation.
We have several "Tesla Inside Out" articles going on. We will be publishing the videos and summaries soon. Pay attention.
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