The chair of Tesla has raised the possibility of Elon Musk stepping down from the electric car giant if shareholders do not back the CEO’s $56bn pay deal. 

In a letter to investors, Robyn Denholm said that Musk could step away from Tesla if the vote did not go his way as there were “other places” the boss could be spending his time. 

The pay package was approved by investors in 2018 but the deal was denied by a judge in January, who ruled it excessive.

Denholm wrote: “What we recognised in 2018 and continue to recognise today is that one thing Elon most certainly does not have is unlimited time. Nor does he face any shortage of ideas and other places he can make an incredible difference in the world.

“We want those ideas, that energy and that time to be at Tesla, for the benefit of you, our owners. But that requires reciprocal respect.”

Musk is currently dividing his time between his AI startup xAI, social media platform X and space company SpaceX

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The billionaire has previously come under fire from Tesla investors that were concerned he was being spread too thin to properly focus on the electric car company. 

Denholm said that the 2018 pay package deal was approved to “keep Elon focused on Tesla and motivated to achieve the company’s incomparable ambitions”.

The chair added: “Upholding our end of the bargain, then, by ratifying the decision we all made in 2018, is more important than ever. 

“If Tesla is to retain Elon’s attention and motivate him to continue to devote his time, energy, ambition and vision to deliver comparable results in the future, we must stand by our deal.”