EXCLUSIVE: Stealthy EV startup Atieva ramps up hiring, including many top ex-Tesla engineers

Atieva hiring EV Engineers Front

Last month at the SAE World Congress in Detroit, Charged came across a very interesting booth in the career development section. Atieva, a company we’ve heard little about, is hiring a lot of engineers for a new EV project.

“Atieva is designing and creating a breakthrough electric car in the heart of Silicon Valley,” says the company’s promo material. “We’re redefining what a car can be, by building an iconic new vehicle from the ground up.”

OK, you’ve got our attention. More details, please!

Atieva was founded in 2007 by Bernard Tse – a Tesla VP and board member from 2003 to 2007 – and Sam Weng, a former Oracle executive. Unlike other automotive companies that start with vehicle design prototypes, the co-founders started Atieva to focus on advancing core EV technology. According to Google Patent Search, Atieva now holds over 100 patents for battery, motor and control system technologies.

Representatives remain tight-lipped about the details, but at some point Atieva decided to shift focus and design a consumer EV from scratch. For the past 7 months, the company has been hiring engineers to build its design team from about 100 to 300 key personnel. It recently moved to a larger facility in Menlo Park, CA and is actively looking for more real estate to develop vehicles.

Atieva’s website says the engineers who join the team will “work with some of the best, most accomplished minds in the industry,” and that’s no exaggeration. In addition to Tse, the company’s team currently includes many top ex-Tesla engineers who were critical to the initial design of the Model S. Combing through Atieva’s staff on LinkedIn, we found 12 employees who used to work for Tesla, or about 10% of its current design team.

Atieva hiring EV Engineers

One reason we’ve heard so little about Atieva is that it doesn’t seem to need any cash at the moment. Press releases, prototypes and demonstrations are tools that many startups use to build a buzz and lure investors. But thanks in part to Tesla’s sky-high valuation and the very experienced team Atieva has already assembled, it has had no problem raising capital to enter the EV market. Atieva representatives told Charged that the company secured a 9-figure sum in private equity funding last year, bringing its total to “significantly more” than the $131 million listed currently on CrunchBase.

Even with money in the bank, the company needs to come out of stealth mode to attract the best talent. That’s why Charged found Atieva in Detroit at one of its first public events. “The fact that we’re here is a pretty big deal, because we’ve been underground for so long,” Atieva’s Roger Evans told us. Evans is one of those former Tesla employees (a noise, vibration, and harshness engineer) now at Atieva. If you want to join him and get in on the ground floor of what could be the next Tesla-style automotive startup, head over to Atieva’s site to apply. The company currently lists about 35 engineering positions, and 2 openings for more recruiters to help it ramp up quicker.

Atieva tells us we’ll hear more details about its plan to “challenge the idea of what a car can be” in a couple months.


  • ned_plimpton

    I would love to hear their pitch to investors. How do you create another EV startup modeled after Tesla, yet different enough for anyone to care?

    Lightning fast sport cars maybe. That teaser drawing looks like a two-door to me.

  • Electric Bill

    If they were pitting themselves against The Big Three, and BMW, and the other legacy car makers scattered over the globe, and (the new) Fisker… I’d have great optimism for a well-funded new company focused solely on an innovative EV as an alternative to ICE propulsion– I’d be cheering.

    But that is not what Atieva is doing: they are going up against an incredibly well-run, well-funded EV company with young and creative peeps that have yet to make any well-defined mistakes as might have been expected by now.

    Tesla has not only not been making mistakes, but the moves they have made have been bold, precise and confident… in a very short few years they have already developed passionate, cult devotees in the tens of thousands, and have yet to have any scary issues such as the recent scandal with 100 people having been killed in accidents caused by faulty ignition switches… Chevys, as I recall.

    Tesla has never had such a scandal so far, and so Atieva has a serious uphill battle unless they have something significantly better, such as a high-energy-density battery that will give them 500 miles of range, let’s say… or maybe that they can give tremendous performance like a Tesla, but at a much cheaper price.

  • ChiChiChiba

    Just want to make the point that these EV are for Chinese markets.