Tesla hires execs as founder reviews Roadster

All-electric sports car maker Tesla Motors is on a hiring binge, taking on auto industry executives as it ramps up operations. Meanwhile, its founder files a 1,000-mile review.

Silicon Valley-based Tesla Motors, maker of luxury electric cars, is cherry-picking Detroit veterans in its bid to take on the auto giants.

The company on Monday announced that it has hired former Ford Motor financial executive Deepak Ahuja as its chief financial officer.

A Tesla Roadster during final assembly at Tesla's Menlo Park, Calif., showroom. Tesla Motors

In another move, Tesla hired Franz von Holzhausen as its design director, according to Darryl Siry, the company's senior vice president of global sales, marketing, and service. Von Holzhausen worked at Mazda, General Motors, and Volkswagen, where he was involved in successful car launches, including that of the New Beetle.

Also, starting in September, Tesla will have a senior manager of communications--Rachel Konrad--a journalist who covered technology in the San Francisco area at the Associated Press and CNET News. Before that, she covered the auto industry in Detroit.

Tesla is very deliberately combining the high-tech entrepreneurial spirit of Silicon Valley with the operational and design skills from incumbent automakers.

"The addition of another seasoned auto industry executive to the senior management team at Tesla demonstrates that Tesla is focused on combining the best of what Detroit and Silicon Valley (have) to offer in building the next great American automobile company," Tesla CEO Ze'ev Drori said in a statement announcing Ahuja's hiring.

In July, Tesla lured Mike Donoughe from Chrysler to be its executive vice president of vehicle engineering and manufacturing.

1,000 mile review
Meanwhile, Tesla's founder, Martin Eberhard, who was ousted from the CEO role, wrote a detailed blog reporting on his first 1,000 miles with the Tesla Roadster.

On the whole, it behaves like a $100,000 sports car should, with great acceleration and handling, he said. However, he said the ride can be very bumpy on city potholes and that the music and navigation system is "horrible."

Its driving range on batteries appears to be shorter than expected, as well.

"Actual driving range for me, which always includes a fair bit of up-and-down-the-hills, seems to be about 125 miles on the 'normal charge' setting, and perhaps 160 miles on the 'max range' setting," Eberhard wrote.

The Roadster, which runs entirely on batteries, is rated with a 220-mile range.

Updated at 10:20 a.m. PT with Konrad's title.

 

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