Tesla loses Model Y engineer famed for adding heat pump

Tesla loses Model Y engineer famed for adding heat pump

A Tesla Model Y engineer, who suggested the heat pump’s inclusion, has left the company after ten years, his LinkedIn account said.

Joseph Mardall served as the Engineering Director for Tesla from April 2018 to January 2021 but has held several other roles with the electric automaker since joining the company in February 2011 as a Senior Thermal Engineer.

Arguably, Mardall’s largest accomplishment while working with Tesla was the groundbreaking Model Y heat pump, a system that was included in the all-electric crossover to handle cold temperatures and combat range loss due to winter climates. Mardall led three teams with 60 or more engineers responsible for developing new HVAC systems that would be compatible with electric vehicles. One solution was the heat pump, an idea that came from Mardall’s engineering teams and has been a big hit with proven success in the Model Y.

CEO Elon Musk even told Teslarati in March 2020 that the heat pump was “some of the best engineering I’ve seen in a while. Team did next-level work.”

Mardall is headed to Zipline as the Head of Engineering. He will be working with a team of engineers “to design and build the next generation of autonomous drones to provide every human on Earth with instant access to vital medical supplies,” his LinkedIn account says. He states that the highlights of his career at Tesla “included the ground breaking Model Y Heat Pump system and leading Tesla’s efforts to develop a ventilator.”

“After 10 wonderful years at Tesla, I’m super excited to start my next chapter as Head of Engineering at Zipline, working with a team of talented and committed engineers to provide every human on Earth with instant access to vital medical supplies. The next 5 years are going to change everything, and I can’t wait! We are hiring for all roles across engineering and I would love to hear from you – come fly with me!”

Interestingly, Mardall has some medical equipment development experience, even though his work before Tesla was at McLaren Racing. Mardall worked intensively on the Tesla ventilator developed by company engineers last year. As the COVID-19 pandemic raged on, Tesla was donating third-party ventilators to hospitals in need but decided to develop its own. The ventilator prototype that Tesla built was comprised completely of parts from the Model 3 sedan, including the dash screen to see measurements of patient vitals. Mardall was present in Tesla’s video of the ventilator, posted in April 2020.

Mardall is seen here explaining the Tesla Ventilator, which was never released by the automaker. (Credit: Tesla)

It is unclear who Tesla will place in the Engineering Director Role currently. Mardall’s work at Tesla was innovative and crucial, and many Model Y (and Model 3 Refresh) owners will thank him every day for the duration of their ownership!

Tesla loses Model Y engineer famed for adding heat pump

Lotus Type 131, Mercedes-Benz EQS, Tailor Made Ferrari 488 Pista: Car News Headlines

Lotus is working on a series of sports cars to replace its aging Elise, Exige and Evora models, all three of which bow out of production this year. A teaser hints at the design of the new cars, the first of which is code-named the Type 131 and expected on sale in 2022.

Mercedes-Benz’s new electric powertrains will vastly improve the stability of the automaker’s cars. Mercedes demonstrated this with its upcoming EQS sedan in a new video.

Ferrari’s latest car customized by Tailor Made is a 488 Pista that features unique touches inspired by the brand’s racing past. Among the unique touches are white accents featured inside and out.

You’ll find these stories and more in today’s car news, right here at Motor Authority.

Lotus Elise, Exige and Evora to bow out in 2021 ahead of new series of sports cars

Mercedes-Benz shows off torque-vectoring ability of upcoming EQS

Ferrari shows off a 488 Pista customized by Tailor Made

Ford forced to recall 3 million vehicles with Takata airbags

Argo AI’s 4th-gen self-driving car prototypes fitted with “product intent” hardware

Electric DeLorean “time machine” revival now a possibility with replica rule

Carlos Sainz prepares for first test in Ferrari F1 car

2020 Audi A8 review

1980 BMW M1 AHG once owned by Paul Walker for sale

Will BMW i4 outdo Model 3 in handling performance?

Out with the tie, in with the teeth

Ideally, cartooning is supposed to be a funny business. There aren’t many people who feed their family and pay their bills by taking pen to paper to draw something that hopefully makes people laugh, or at least think.

But funny also has to be easily recognizable. And for cartoonists, each new administration comes with a mandate: to create a character that readers can instantly identify as the president.

Donald Trump was a cartoonist’s dream with his flamboyant shock of blond coiffed hair and his signature long red tie. Like Trump, President Joe Biden has a few dominant physical characteristics that can guide my mind’s eye in helping craft the character.

For example, Biden’s eyes are frequently squinted or even hidden behind aviator sunglasses; both are comedic gold for any cartoonist. Similarly, Biden’s broad, toothy smile — he could easily have been a pitchman for any teeth-whitening product — dominates his elongated countenance, topped by his combed-back white hair.

Put it all together, and — even without a vintage Corvette — you get a likeness that screams to me in Biden’s voice as I draw: “C’mon, man, add some color!” Which you can see at the end.

Tesla claims engineer stole secrets just days into the job

A former Tesla Inc. software engineer was ordered to appear before a federal judge to face allegations that three days into his job, he started stealing confidential files and transferring them to a personal storage account.

During his two-week employment ending Jan. 6, Alex Khatilov stole more than 6,000 scripts, or files of code, that automate a broad range of business functions, Tesla argues in its trade-secret theft complaint filed in U.S. District Court for Northern California.

Tesla convinced U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, Calif., that the threat posed is serious enough that she granted a restraining order Friday requiring Khatilov to immediately preserve and return all files, records and emails to the company and appear before her, remotely, on Feb. 4.

Elon Musk’s EV maker has aggressively pursued lawsuits against other former employees and rival companies that it has accused of poaching engineers and stealing proprietary data.

A software automation engineer, Khatilov was hired as one of a “select few Tesla employees” to have access to the files, which the company says were unrelated to his job. Tesla says it had to sue because Khatilov lied about his theft and tried to delete evidence of it.

Khatilov said he was surprised and shocked by Tesla’s lawsuit. He said in an interview that after he was hired on Dec. 28, Tesla sent him a file containing information for new hires. He said he transferred it to his personal Dropbox cloud account to use later on his personal computer.

“Nobody told me using Dropbox is prohibited,” Khatilov said. “I don’t know why they claim it’s sensitive information, I didn’t have access to any sensitive information.” Companies wanting to maintain protection over files normally block their improper installation, he added.

Days later, Khatilov said he showed Tesla the information in his Dropbox when security asked, and deleted the data at the company’s request. A few hours later Tesla called to tell him he was fired.

According to Tesla, after investigators found thousands of confidential files in Khatilov’s personal storage, the engineer said he forgot about them and tried to destroy the data at the start of the interview. Tesla says it doesn’t know if he previously copied or sent the files to other locations. Khatilov said in the interview that he didn’t send them to anyone or anywhere.

“The scripts are extremely valuable to Tesla, and they would be to a competitor,” the company claimed in the lawsuit. “Access to these scripts would enable engineers at other companies to reverse engineer Tesla’s processes to create a similar system in a fraction of the time and with a fraction of the expense.”

The New York Post reported on the case earlier.

J.D. Power III, founder of influential car quality survey, dies at 89

James David Power III, who turned a scrappy home business that tracked customer satisfaction with new-vehicle quality into a giant global market research firm that today monitors everything from consumers’ experience with new-car sales and service, to auto lenders, airlines, health care providers, homebuilders and hoteliers, died Saturday.

He was 89 years old. He died Saturday of natural causes at his home in Westlake Village, Calif., son James David Power IV said by telephone.

J.D. Power, today headquartered in Troy, Mich., was launched in the family kitchen with automotive customer surveys that measured and ranked new-vehicle quality.

The company’s annual initial quality survey, which measures problems with new vehicles in the first 90 days of ownership, and a separate study that tracks long-term dependability, are perhaps the most closely watched performance benchmarks for reliability in the auto industry.

The company entered the auto market with its first client, Toyota Motor Co., in 1969.

It has expanded to include company rankings across a diverse range of industries, including electronics and appliances, fitness and recreation, media and entertainment, technology, software and more.

Power’s early automotive surveys helped detect consumers’ budding preference for front-wheel drive and the woes that prompted automakers to abandon the rotary engines favored by Mazda.

“He created a measurable standard,” Bob Lutz, former head of product development at General Motors and Chrysler, told Business Week in 1996. “For that, he deserves our utmost respect.”

Power, a former financial analyst at Ford who later represented General Motors as a marketing research consultant for Marplan, launched J.D. Power and Associates in 1968 in the family’s kitchen in Calabasas, Calif.

His wife, Julie, was co-founder, and their three children at the time were the associates.

Julie handled tabulations while their kids stuffed questionnaires and cover letters into envelopes, attaching quarters using tape as an incentive for recipients to return the survey.

It wasn’t until Julie noticed reports of Mazda breakdowns caused by defective O-rings while she was tabulating surveys in 1973 that J.D. Power and Associates gained distinction. Power wasn’t a car expert. He and Julie didn’t even know what an O-ring was, but they knew it was hurting the engine.

When the The Wall Street Journal reported Mazda’s engine problems, based on J.D. Power’s study, the company gained nationwide recognition and became a leading voice of customer data.

“Lo and behold we were in nearly every newspaper in the world and on the radio in 24 hours,” Power recalled in an interview with The Boston Globe in 2014. “The name J.D. Power started to get a lot of recognition.”

Power sold J.D. Power and Associates to McGraw-Hill in 2005. London-based XIO acquired J.D. Power from S&P Global Inc., formerly McGraw-Hill, in 2016 for $1.1 billion. It merged with Autodata Solutions in 2019, putting it under the ownership of Thoma Bravo, a private equity firm with offices in San Francisco and Chicago.

It was a radical thought in 1968, but with a simple mantra — “the customer’s opinion matters” — Power slowly began to win over each automaker: Mazda and Toyota early on, forging on to General Motors, followed by Volvo, Hyundai and Mitsubishi.

In 1976, Power launched a dealer attitude survey that detailed retail and distributor issues and helped establish a strong rapport with auto retailers. That study preceded the National Automobile Dealers Association’s own Dealer Attitude Survey.

Power’s research and findings, often critical of the Detroit 3, weren’t always welcomed.

He was booed at a 1980 auto industry conference in Detroit when he described his ways of measuring new-vehicle defects. Many in the audience jeered and heckled Power, with his family in attendance, as a meddling outsider.

“The hostility of the crowd was just unbelievable,” Power told Time magazine in 1993. “In another century they would have burned us as heretics.”

During the 1984 Super Bowl telecast, Subaru became the first automaker to advertise its J.D. Power rankings by running a commercial during the game.

Now more than 200,000 TV commercials and more than 2 billion print ad impressions refer to J.D. Power awards annually.

Power caused an uproar in 2003 when he published an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal calling for more efficient ways to sell automobiles than the current dealer franchise system.

He suggested retailers build multibrand megastores — the automotive equivalent of Walmart — because it is a better way to satisfy customers. He blamed state franchise laws that allow dealers to act as barriers to efficient distribution.

“Today, there is a hefty price for those artificial and anachronistic controls,” he claimed in the column, “and they add 30 percent to the base cost of a manufactured automobile.”

While several dealers protested by withdrawing from the Power Information Network, launched in 1990 to collect retail sales data from thousands of dealerships, the company emerged largely unscathed.

The company continued to grow and expand and acquired the NADA Used Car Guide in 2015 and NADAguides.com in 2017.

James David Power III was born on May 30, 1931, in Worcester, Mass.

He graduated from College of the Holy Cross in 1953 and earned an MBA at the University of Pennsylvania in 1959.

Power served as a Coast Guard officer for four years in the mid-1950s and made three voyages to the Arctic and one to the Antarctic, relaying data to scientists for a better understanding of the polar regions.

Power applied lessons learned from his Coast Guard stint to his startup.

“You have to be true to yourself, true to everyone else that you run into,” he told the Coast Guard Compass in 2012. “I really learned teammates count and that you have to have the environment where everyone trusts everyone else.”

He worked as a financial analyst at Ford Motor Co. before joining Marplan as a marketing research consultant for General Motor’s Buick and GMC Truck and Coach divisions.

He also served as marketing research executive for construction and farm equipment manufacturer J.I. Case Co. and director of corporate planning at McCulloch Corp., a Los Angeles-based engine manufacturer.

He received the Automotive Hall of Fame’s Distinguished Service Citation in 1992, which is awarded to seven of the industry’s most accomplished leaders each year, and the Lone Sailor Award in 2012, which is given to sea service veterans who have stood out in their careers while carrying on the Navy’s core values of honor, courage and commitment. Power was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 2014.

Julie Power died of multiple sclerosis in 2002. The Power family started the Kenrose Kitchen Table Foundation, which supports organizations honoring the memory of Dave and Julie Power, including the National Coast Guard Museum, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and College of the Holy Cross.

He is survived by his wife, Joan, whom he married in 2003, four children, their spouses, two step-daughters and numerous grandchildren.

For a man linked so directly to the review and reputation of hundreds of nameplates over the years, from minivans to luxury sedans to SUVs to sports cars, his favorite was somewhat peculiar.

Power told The Boston Globe in 2014 he coveted most the car he was driving at the time — a 2003 Mercury Marauder, a high-performance version of the Grand Marquis, mostly because of its simplicity and ease of operation.

“It’s the police package and looks like a police car. It’s rear-wheel drive. It has exceptional acceleration and steering,” Power told the paper. “I’ve had it for 10 years now, and I’ve only got 50,000 miles on it. I like it because it doesn’t have all those fancy push-buttons and touchscreens and all that. I just get in, turn the key, and drive off.”

Additional reporting by Jamie Butters.