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Tesla Loses Another Key Player to Rival Lucid

You may have heard of Lucid Motors: a California-based electric car startup with a host of prior Tesla executives running the show.  Well, it sounds like they have gotten their hands on another one:  the former vice president of production at Tesla’s Freemont factory, Peter Hochholdinger. Why is Tesla losing another executive to Lucid?

Another Tesla Executive Lost to Lucid

The announcement came last week that Hochholdinger was leaving Tesla, but we received confirmation just today via a press release that he had been hired by a competitor as their new vice president of manufacturing.  The statement says that Hochholdinger will “lead Lucid’s global manufacturing operations, commencing with Lucid’s plant in Casa Grande, Arizona, as well as manufacturing engineering.”

He is not the only high-profile prior Tesla employee to join Lucid’s payroll.  The company was initially founded by Bernard Tse, a former vice president and board member of Tesla.  In April, they also brought over the former chief engineer of Tesla’s Model S, Peter Rawlinson, to be their chief executive officer. 

Peter Hochholdinger

Prior to Lucid, Hochholdinger held the primary responsibility for two California factories and one in the Netherlands for Tesla.  Before that, he built his career with Audi, where he spent 24 years and worked his way up to the position of Senior Director of Production, overseeing the development of the Audi A4, A5, and Q5 before moving on.   

Hochholdinger received an Engineering Master’s degree in material science from the Friedrich-Alexander-University in Erlangen, Germany.  During his time with Audi, he successfully submitted three patents.

What This Means for Tesla

Whether the loss is good or bad for Tesla remains to be seen.  While Hochholdinger spent the last three years in a very important production position for the electric vehicle automaker, those same three years have been a challenge for Tesla.  His responsibilities centered on improving the production of Telsa’s luxury Model S and Model X vehicles and also building a cost-efficient manufacturing strategy for the Model 3.  In fact, most of his tenure at Tesla is centered around the Model 3. 

If you have been paying attention to news on the Tesla Model 3, you would remember that the road to its production has been a pockmarked trail of mistakes, errors, and poor quality, especially in the beginning.  Is Hochholdinger abandoning what he thinks is a sinking ship, or was he at least partially responsible for sending Model 3 production into a nosedive in the first place? 

Lucid Motors

Founded in 2007, Lucid Motors started out with developing battery technology but eventually moved on to building electric cars.  After securing over $1 billion in funding from the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, Lucid unveiled plans for a $700 million factory in Casa Grande, Arizona.  It is there that they will build their luxury all-electric sedan, the Lucid Air, expected to start at a base price of $60,000. 

The Lucid Air is expected to begin production in 2020.

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