How Kenyan Who Worked as Tesla Engineer is Transforming Electric Car Industry in US

  • A collage image of Charly Mwangi in a car factory (LEFT) and posing for a photo in front Tesla car (RIGHT).
    A collage image of Charly Mwangi in a car factory (LEFT) and posing for a photo in front Tesla car (RIGHT).
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    Charly Mwangi
  • With the evolution of science and technology in the 21st Century, Charly Mwangi, a Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) graduate, is revolutionising the electric car industry with his engineering skills.

    In 2012, Mwangi made headlines after he was appointed as the Senior Director of Engineering at renowned US electric car manufacturer, Tesla.

    At the time, the engineer was working for Nissan Motor Corporation in Mississippi, before his skills were tapped by world richest man, Elon Musk, as the company sought to increase the production of electric cars.

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    A Tesla car spotted in Kenya in November 2020
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    While serving at Tesla, Mwangi was charged with overseeing the body design engineering and battery enclosure design engineering for the electric cars.

    However, after a six-year stint at Musk's company, Mwangi joined VP Hardware Engineering and later Rivian, another electric vehicle manufacturing company founded in 2009.

    At Rivan, Mwangi oversaw the production of the company's first three vehicles. His skills saw him get appointed as the company's Executive Vice President.

    "I built and led the teams that build the machine that builds the machine. Went from an empty factory to launching three vehicles in two years," Mwangi stated.

    Following his success at Rivan, Mwangi announced last month that he was joining Eclipse Ventures, a company that invests in automotive startups. He explained that he was leaving to pursue other career opportunities.

    “After an exhilarating two years at Rivian, I made the difficult and emotional decision to leave the company in order to pursue a new career opportunity.

    "My next adventure is a culmination of my experience at Nissan, Tesla, and Rivian. I’m excited to join the talented team at Eclipse Ventures as a Partner to help accelerate the Industrial Evolution by working with founders transforming physical industries," he stated then.

    Despite his many successes in the US, Mwangi also achieved major milestones in Kenya's locomotive industry. He was part of the engineers behind the Nyayo Pioneer 1, the first car to be assembled in the country.

    On the reason behind his success, Mwangi credits his mother for taking him through schooling and for mentoring him. In a show of gratitude, the former JKUAT graduate took his mother on tour around the Tesla factory in 2013.

    "As I reflect on my career, my favorite moment was when I gave my mum a personal tour of the Tesla factory back in 2013. She was completely blown away! She is definitely the reason I see through barriers," he stated then.

    Mwangi's achievements have seen him earn many accolades among Kenyans who state that the engineer is destined for greatness.

    "Nyayo Pioneer 1 to Tesla engineer. Your journey is inspiring for an entire generation of Kenyans," Sammy Guchuru, the I-Hub founder, stated. 

    Charly Mwangi (CENTER) posing with other engineers infront of a Nyayo Pioneer 1 car.
    Charly Mwangi (CENTER) posing with other engineers infront of a Nyayo Pioneer 1 car.
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    Charly Mwangi