Tesla Gets New Production Chief

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Tesla Motors, which has been bedeviled by production glitches and delays with each new model, has gone to an established player for its new production chief.  The Silicon Valley EV-maker has hired former Audi production executive Peter Hochholdinger as its new vice president of production.

Hochholdinger is tasked with boosting production output and improving production quality for the company’s battery-electric luxury cars, the Model S sedan and Model X crossover, as well as developing a world-class production system for Tesla’s planned entry into the world of mid-priced BEVs, the Model 3.

He spent 22 years at Audi and was heading production for the A4, A5 and Q5 models when Tesla hired him away.

Perhaps attempting to respond to critics who fear Tesla will have difficulty making the switch from a low-volume luxury car builder to a mass market manufacturer (CEO Elon Musk says Tesla will be building 500,000 cars a year by 2018), the company took pains to point out that Hochholdinger was responsible for that manufacture of about 400,000 Audi vehicles per year.  He also “has been serving as an advisor” on Audi’s new production plant in Mexico,” Tesla said.

Hochholdinger is replacing former Tesla production VP Greg Reichow, who left earlier this month on a leave of absence.  Tesla’s vice president for manufacturing, Josh Ensign, left at the same time –but not on a leave of absence.

Tesla’s new Model X reportedly has presented the company with more than few production headaches in the first three months of manufacturing, many because of its complex, overhead-opening “falcon wing” doors.  The company says it now has resolved quality control and production issues.