Electric-car maker Tesla Motors has scooped up two more executive from major auto manufactures.
On Tuesday, the San Carlos, Calif.-based company confirmed it had snagged Franz von Holzhausen, the design director of Mazda Motor Corp.'s research and design center in Irvine, Calif.
The news comes a day after Tesla announced it had hired Deepak Ahuja, from Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F), as its chief financial officer. And the company in July hired Mike Donoughe, a former Chrysler executive, to head its manufacturing operations (see Tesla Hires Chrysler Vet).
All the hiring shows that the company is getting more serious about its manufacturing, said Paul Lacy, manager of technical research for Global Insight.
After all, the company has ambition plans. Aside from producing its $100,000 Roadster, Tesla plans to manufacture a $60,000 electric sedan in California and is also developing a third model, a compact sports car expected to cost between $30,000 and $35,000 (see Tesla: We'll Build Electric Sedans in California, Tesla Production Slower Than Expected and Tesla Announces New Transmission).
Tesla in February told Greentech Media that it was looking to partner with a large automaker to manufacture its third model at "high volumes" (see Tesla to Big Three: Let's Be Friends).
"It's possible that some of these folks are being brought in to facilitate that," Lacy said.
Ahuja, who had worked at Ford for 15 years, was most recently a controller for the company's small-car product-development program. Before that, he was the CFO for Ford’s $3 billion Southern Africa subsidiary.<
Although Tesla would not say when von Holzhausen was officially joining the company or what his official title would be, he already has resigned from his post at Mazda, according to BusinessWeek.
While at Mazda, where he worked since 2005, von Holzhausen oversaw the design and development of concept and production vehicles for North America. He led the design of such cars as the Nagare and Furai.
Before working for Mazda, von Holzhausen served as a design manager at General Motors, where he helped design such vehicles as the Pontiac Solstice and the Saturn Sky.
After all, making a compact electric sports car for less than $35,000 would be a feat for anyone. "If they are trying to come in under that [price], they have a lot of work cut out for them," Lacy said.
As an example, he pointed to the much-anticipated Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid. General Motors Corp. originally said the Volt would cost about $30,000, but industry watchers now expect a price of $40,000 to $48,000 (see Tesla Powertrain Powers Forward).
Meanwhile, the company's former CEO, Martin Eberhard, reported that he has received his long-awaited Roadster.
Bloggers have been speculating for months about when the co-founder would receive his car. Eberhard was ousted from the company in December and supposed to have received the second Roadster, after company chairman Elon Musk (see Autoblog Green posts here and here).
The Roadster, the first of the "Founder's Series," was dropped off at Eberhard’s house in late July.
Over the weekend, Eberhard blogged about some of his first impressions, both good and bad.
"The car handles like magic on corners ... Coming out of a corner with all that torque is unbeatable," he said, adding that he hasn't yet pushed the car to its limit.
On a more critical note, he said, "the potholes in [San Francisco] demonstrated a bit of harshness in the rear suspension – the right sort of pothole causes a very loud clunk that shakes the frame of the car. I am not sure what the fix for this is – I certainly would not want to make the ride any softer."