The Chief Financial Officer of Tesla Motors unexpectedly announced that he will be leaving the company later this year.

The news came earlier today during Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting. CFO Deepak Ahuja called his decision to retire “difficult,” adding that it was “akin to letting go of a child.”

“My time at Tesla has been a nonstop adrenaline rush,” said Ahuja in a statement. “It is time for me to check a few things off my bucket list and pursue other life goals.”

The change in leadership is surprising – especially given that the company is projecting a growth of 50 percent over the next few years. But if there is any turmoil between Tesla’s executives, the company isn’t showing any outward signs. Tesla CEO Elon Musk praised Ahuja’s work during Tuesday’s meeting.

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Tesla Chief Financial Officer Deepak Ahuja.

“He’s done an amazing job,” said Musk.

Ahuja joined Tesla in 2008 as the company’s first financial chief. Before that he had been an executive with the Ford Motor Company.

In 2009, Ahuja helped managed $465 million in federal loans that were issued to companies working on advanced technology vehicles. The following year he led Tesla through its initial public offering. And in 2013, Ahuja coordinated Tesla’s loan repayments, paying off its government loan nearly a decade ahead of schedule.

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Ahuja said his efforts helped create “a solid foundation for Tesla’s long-term success.”

A replacement for Ahuja has not yet been appointed, but the CFO said he will remain with the company to help find a successor.

During the meeting Musk also notified shareholders that he will begin limited beta test of autopilot features on the Model S later this month, releasing the update only to select customers. Auto-steering capabilities will be added as part of the next update.

“I am testing the latest version every week. We are making gradual progress towards [a] releasable bit of software,” Musk said.


(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)