Tesla hires Audi veteran as new vehicle-production VP; predecessor took leave of absence

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Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3

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Following the departure of two top manufacturing executives, electric-car maker Tesla Motors has hired a manufacturing executive from German luxury maker Audi.

The company announced the news late Friday in a release sent to news media.

The executive, Peter Hocholdinger, will join the Silicon Valley carmaker as its vice present of vehicle production.

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According to the company's statement on Friday afternoon:

Peter will be responsible for continuing to increase and improve Model S and Model X production, as well as help build a scalable, cost-effective and quality manufacturing program specifically designed for Model 3.

Scene from Tesla Model X production video

Scene from Tesla Model X production video

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Peter joins Tesla from Audi where he has spent the last 22 years working across the entire production chain. He is currently responsible for leading the production of Audi’s A4, A5 and Q5 vehicles, including 14 derivatives of those models, at Audi’s flagship production facility for volume and technology.

In total, Peter is responsible for the production of about 400,000 vehicles annually at Audi while managing thousands of employees. Peter has also been serving as an advisor for bringing Audi’s new production facility online in Mexico, guiding the implementation of the production processes that are responsible for the standard of quality expected at Audi.

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Hocholdinger will replace Tesla's outgoing vice president of production, Greg Reichow, who is taking a leave of absence for what a company spokesperson called "a well-deserved break."

Reichow's departure, along with that of vice president of production Josh Ensign, were reported earlier this month by Reuters and other outlets.

2016 Tesla Model X with 2011 Tesla Roadster Sport, photographed by owner Bonnie Norman

2016 Tesla Model X with 2011 Tesla Roadster Sport, photographed by owner Bonnie Norman

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The company's second high-volume luxury electric car, the Model X crossover utility vehicle, was plagued with delays during its launch—at least some owing to its unique roof-hinged "falcon doors," which proved challenging to design, engineer, and produce in volume.

Tesla owner forums abound with stories of doors that stopped working, didn't align properly, or otherwise posed quality issues for the earliest owners of the expensive utility vehicles.

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Hocholdinger's main task will be to prepare the company's assembly plant in Fremont, California, for high-volume production of its upcoming 200-mile Model 3 sedan, which is scheduled to go into production before the end of 2017.

He will have his work cut out for him: Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on the company's quarterly-earnings call last week that it had pulled forward its date for achieving a production rate of 500,000 cars a year from the end of 2020 to the end of 2018, less than three years hence.

Tesla Motors delivered slightly more than 50,000 vehicles in 2015.

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