Tesla’s engineering and design teams are primarily based in the US and especially in California, but the company has been expanding internationally over the last few years with teams in the UK and Germany.
Now we learn that the automaker is also building a small research and development office in Athens, Greece to develop new electric motor technologies.
Several reports came out of Greece over the last few weeks about rumors of Tesla establishing a local presence in the country.
The nature of the company’s presence was never clear since Greece is a market that Tesla has yet to officially enter.
We reached out to the company for a comment on the situation and a spokesperson confirmed that Tesla is establishing a local research and development office:
Tesla is building a small research and development office in Athens, which will be comprised of a highly-qualified engineering team. This team will focus solely on limited research and development activities to accelerate electric motor technology development through close collaboration with our team in the US.
Three of Tesla’s top electric motor designers, Principal Motor Designer Konstantinos Laskaris, Motor Design Engineer Konstantinos Bourchas, and Staff Motor Design Engineer Vasilis Papanikolaou, all came out of the National Technical University of Athens.
The company wants to tap even more into this local electrical engineering talent with an office in the Greek capital.
The Tesla spokesperson added:
Greece has strong electric motor engineering talent and technical universities, offering tailored programs and specialized skills for electric motor technology.
The team will be relatively small – starting with just 10 engineers.
That’s an interesting development and probably a good move by Tesla. The three engineers mentioned above moved to Palo Alto to work on Tesla’s electric motors, but that can be a hard sale for some people and a local office offers an easier alternative.
The emphasis on electric motor development is also interesting as Tesla is rapidly becoming a large manufacturer of electric drive units and other power electronics.
JB Straubel, Tesla’s Chief Technology Officer, himself an expert in energy conversion, has previously stated that he sees power electronics as one of Tesla’s main advantages in the industry.
The company has already received a lot of praise for its Model S/Model X drive units, but Tesla also built powertrains for several other vehicles like the electric versions of the Toyota Rav4, the Smart, and Mercedes B-class, and they have designed a brand new drive unit for the Model 3, which will also be used in the Tesla Semi.