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Here's What It's Like to Work for Elon Musk

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Tesla Motors (TSLA) has taken the automotive industry and the investment world by storm, and CEO Elon Musk has taken an innovative approach to not only producing electric cars, but furthering the conversation about renewable energy.

Founded in 2003, Tesla has rebuilt the entire automotive manufacturing process from the ground up, a reason that some of the industry's top minds work there. It has given them a chance to build the process how they see fit.

"When I was interviewed by Elon, I had the opportunity to drive a Roadster, and I immediately saw the potential of that car, with the performance and efficiency of the vehicle," said Gilbert Passin, Tesla's vice president of OEM & Re-Manufacturing, in a recent interview at Tesla's plant in Fremont, Calif. "Also, Elon, basically gave me carte blanche in the sense that he asked me to build everything from scratch, from the ground up. It's not every day in your life that someone comes to you and says, 'Would you like to build a car company from the ground up?'"

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Passin, who came from Toyota (NSANY), worked with another person to help build the plant, and began hiring people so the company had the capacity to produce thousands of cars a year. Currently, there are 1,300 employees on the manufacturing floor, and another 1,300 on the power train floor, making the plant home to around 3,000 employees.

That's important for Passin, given the nature of working on an electric vehicle vs. working on a car with an internal combustion engine. "The key difference is the culture of Tesla is very different from General Motors (GM) or Ford (F)," Passin stated. "We started very scrappy, very small with ambitious goals. We need to be flexible, creative and innovative. We need someone that can utilize their intellectual power as well as creativity to find solutions that are cheaper and some things that other companies have never done. It really depends on the person vs. where they come from."

Last year, Tesla delivered 22,500 Model S units, and said it expects to surpass 35,000 Model S deliveries this year. The company, which has yet to set a second-quarter earnings date, expects to deliver about 7,500 Model S units, but will produce between 8,500 and 9,000 cars for the quarter, up 13% to 19% sequentially.

Passin noted that Tesla is currently manufacturing about 750 to 800 cars per week, up from almost 700 cars per week as of the end of the first quarter.

Working for Musk, who has built three companies (Tesla, SpaceX and PayPal) is not easy Passin admitted, but it is rewarding. "Elon is a very inspiring person, he will put you to the limit.  He will really ask you the impossible, he will not settle for mediocre results. He will only settle for the best of the best in what you're trying to achieve in manufacturing or design or performance or charging capability. It's very fascinating working for someone like that. He will not let go of any kind of outstanding result that is demanding."

-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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