Tesla looking to double engineering staff

PALO ALTO, California, Oct 6 (Reuters) - Silicon Valley electric carmaker Tesla Motors TSLA.O is seeking to double its engineering staff as it ramps up development of the new lower-priced Model S sedan.

“We are growing very rapidly,” said Jim Dunlay, Tesla’s vice president of powertrain hardware engineering. “We are looking for key personnel in every area.”

Tesla’s engineering staff is likely to double in the next six to nine months, Dunlay added.

The company is hiring in all departments including research and development, manufacturing and manufacturing engineering.

Tesla currently has about 250 engineers, many of whom were recruited from Detroit automakers, technology industry and some even from Formula One racing companies.

Dunlay was speaking at a media event where the company provided a tour inside its engineering and manufacturing operations located in a 370,000 square foot facility in Palo Alto.

Tesla, currently known for its $109,000 Roadster, employs about 800 employees worldwide.

The carmaker has had one of the few successful initial public offerings this year, raising about $226 million in its offering of 13.3 million shares, becoming the first U.S. car company to go public since Ford Motor Co F.N in 1956.

The company has said the key milestone for the company this year was to complete a prototype of the Model S that would be about 80 percent to 90 percent close to the final production model.

During the tour, Tesla revealed that the battery pack for the Model S, which is expected to be launched by 2012, will be fitted in a large flat panel beneath the vehicle. (Reporting by Poornima Gupta; editing by Carol Bishopric)