Tesla is losing one of its longest-tenured executives with the departure of Colin Campbell, former VP of Powertrains, after 17 years with the company. Campbell announced he is joining Redwood Materials, the recycling startup founded by former Tesla CTO JB Straubel.
Campbell has been with Tesla since nearly the beginning, joining in 2006 when Tesla was still a small startup planning its first vehicle, the electric Roadster sports car. As one of Tesla’s earliest engineers, he steadily moved up the ranks as the company grew.
In 2016, Campbell became Director of Power Electronics Engineering before quickly advancing to Senior Director, overseeing all aspects of powertrain development. His responsibilities encompassed electrical and mechanical engineering for motors, batteries, transmissions and more.
Most recently serving as VP of Powertrains, Campbell played a key role in developing technology that enabled Tesla’s rapid expansion. Now after 17 years, he announced via LinkedIn that he will take on the CTO position at Redwood Materials.
At Redwood Materials, Campbell reunites with longtime colleague JB Straubel, who was a Tesla co-founder and its former Chief Technology Officer. Since leaving Tesla in 2019, Straubel has been working to build up a domestic battery supply chain through Redwood’s production and recycling of battery materials.
In his departure note, Campbell reflected positively on his 17 years at Tesla: “I’ve had an incredible 17 years at Tesla, and as an engineer, I can’t quantify the value of the technical challenges I encountered in building exciting, safe, reliable, and increasingly affordable electric vehicles.”
With Campbell’s exit, Tesla loses an executive with vast institutional knowledge and technical expertise instrumental to the company’s success. But Straubel gains a proven battery tech leader as he pushes to expand Redwood Materials’ footprint.
The move highlights the spreading talent network being built by former high-level Tesla employees venturing into the EV space with new startups and projects. While a loss for Tesla, Campbell’s deep experience will likely continue benefiting the larger electric vehicle landscape.