Tesla Hires New Engineering VP From Luxury Maker Aston Martin
Tesla owners & supporters gather in Statehouse in Austin to support company [photo: John Griswell]
While CEO Elon Musk is doing another tweet-hyped conference call today, Tesla has a lot going on in the background.
Not only is it building and selling Model S electric luxury sport sedans, but Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] has quietly hired a new vice president of vehicle engineering.
That new VP is Chris Porritt, whose previous job was chief platform manager for British luxury sports-car maker Aston Martin.
He led the development of the Aston Martin One-77 supercar in 2009, and is intimately familiar with developing fast, luxurious vehicles for wealthy, demanding customers.
Porritt’s appointment was first hinted at on Tuesday by British magazine Autocar, in an article on the likely departure of Aston Martin CEO Ulrich Bez, who has led the company since 2000.
Shanna Hendriks, Tesla’s communications manager, confirmed the news when contacted by Green Car Reports.
“Yes, Chris Porritt has joined us as VP of Vehicle Engineering,” she wrote in an e-mail.
“Chris is the first VP in that role,” she continued, “since Peter Rawlinson left” and returned to the U.K. to tend to personal matters in January 2012.
Until Porritt’s arrival, she said, “Jerome Guillen had been overseeing some of the Engineering responsibilities in the interim.”
Porritt will not be the first former Aston Martin executive involved with Tesla, however.
The company contracted with noted designer Henrik Fisker to develop concepts for the large electric luxury sedan that became the 2012 Tesla Model S.
Fisker had styled the Aston Martin Vantage V8 before founding his own coachworks.
The Danish designer worked for several months during 2006 and 2007 on the large luxury sedan project, then co-founded his own startup: luxury green-car maker Fisker Automotive.
That company is largely defunct now, though it has not as yet declared bankruptcy.
Tesla sued Fisker in April 2008 for theft of confidential design information and trade secrets; the matter was settled that December when an arbitrator ruled largely in Fisker’s favor.
Let us hope Porritt has a considerably happier and less contentious tenure at Tesla.