Yet another senior management reshuffle has taken place at electric car company Tesla, with chairman and key investor Elon Musk replacing Ze’ev Drori as CEO. Drori stepped into the top job as recently as December 2007 - replacing Tesla founder Martin Eberhard - and now moves to the position of vice chairman of the board of directors.

The CEO swap comes amidst the first round of major layoffs at the company since its inception in 2003. While the exact number of employees facing the axe is yet to be revealed, Tesla, through its official blog, describes the cuts as a “modest reduction” made as a direct response to the global financial crisis. It also plans to shut its Michigan office and design studio.

Tesla has also confirmed that development of its next model, the ‘Model S’ sedan, will be delayed for up to six months or until mid-2011.

Musk stated that funding can only be drawn down after the company receives environmental approval for its new San Jose, California, headquarters, which should happen in the second quarter of next year. The company will reduce activity on all “production engineering, tooling and commitments to suppliers” for the upcoming electric sedan until a Department of Energy (DOE) loan guarantee becomes effective.

In the meantime the company will focus its efforts on the current Roadster, which despite selling for a lofty $109,000 has generated a one-year waiting list. Tesla also plans to start selling its powertrain technology to other companies, but is yet to announce any names.