Saturday, May 14, 2016

Tesla Hires Senior Production Manager From Audi

Earlier this month, Tesla announced that Greg Reichow, vice president of production, and Josh Ensign, vice president of manufacturing, were leaving the company. A few days later, Elon Musk said he was moving up the timeline for Model 3 production by two full years, Instead of building 500,000 cars a year by 2020, now Musk wants to do it by 2018. But with its two top production guys gone, who will take over and whip the production line into shape to meet Musk’s goal?
Tesla Model S and Model X
Peter Hochholdinger, that’s who. He is a 22 year veteran of Audi, where right now he is in charge of producing 400,000 premium cars a year — exactly the qualifications Musk is looking for. Hochholdinger will be in charge of production of the current Model S and Model X, as well as scaling up the manufacturing program for the newly announced Model 3, according to The Verge.
At Audi, Hochholdinger was in charge of production for the A4, A5, and Q5 vehicles and supervised thousands of employees. He has also been working as an advisor on a new Audi production facility in Mexico. “Tesla is excited to have Peter join the team,” said Tesla in a statement.
Tesla has been experiencing some quality control issues with the Model X. A latch on the third row seats was found to be defective. The hardware had to be redesigned and new components retrofitted to cars already delivered. Then came a spate of reports about issues with the falcon wing doors not opening or closing properly, as well as glitchy touchscreens and front doors that wouldn’t stay closed.
At the height of the drama, Elon Musk began personally inspecting every Model X coming off the assembly line. He told the press he actually had a desk at the end of the line and a sleeping bag nearby in case he needed to stay overnight at the factory.
Josh Ensign seems to be the sacrificial lamb in all this. While the company went out of its way to praise Reichow for his heroics, Ensign simply disappeared from the company without so much as a thank you. Apparently, he is the executive thought to be responsible for the issues that bedeviled the Model X.
Fortune reports that Reichow had never worked at an automobile manufacturer before joining Tesla. If you listen carefully to what Elon Musk says, he acknowledges that building automobiles is more complex and more daunting that he had ever imagined. Lots of old time auto executives could have told him that, but of course Elon listens to his inner voice more than the teachings of others. Nonetheless, the difficulty of manufacturing automobiles seems to have sunk in and convinced him it was time to get someone on board who was a bona fide car guy, and not some starry eyed w√ľnderkindfrom the tech world.
In Hochholdinger, he seems to have found the right man for the job.
Photo credit: Tesla  Motors

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