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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Tesla Hires Toyota Manufacturing Expert

Tesla Motors announced today that former Toyota production engineering general manager Gilbert Passin will lead Tesla's vehicle manufacturing operations.

Passin brings 23 years of international automotive experience to Tesla. He has led some of the most high-profile divisions at Toyota, Volvo, Mack and projects at Renault across North America and Europe. Most recently, Passin served as general manager of production engineering for Toyota in North America. In spite of the recent recall, Toyota’s manufacturing production process continues to be regarded as one of the most efficient in automotive assembly.

Previously, Passin was vice president of manufacturing at Toyota's plant in Cambridge, Ontario. The award-winning plant produces over 200,000 automobiles per year and is the only Toyota site to produce a Lexus vehicle outside of Japan. It has won accolades from JD Power and is considered one of "Canada's Top 100 Employers." Passin was instrumental in the manufacturing planning and launch of the best-selling Lexus RX luxury SUV. He also launched manufacturing of the award-winning tenth generation Corolla, one of the most popular automotive models worldwide.

"Gilbert’s proven ability to successfully develop and produce quality vehicles at the world's top automakers makes him a critical addition to Tesla as we build our production capacity, particularly with respect to manufacturing the planned Model S sedan," said Tesla CEO Elon Musk. "He will also help us recruit the best and the brightest employees for our California manufacturing team."

Tesla is the only company to commercially produce highway-capable electric cars. The company has produced 1,000 cars and has customers in 18 countries worldwide.

During his time with Mack, Passin played a key role in transferring the production of highway trucks to Volvo's Virginia facility. At the Volvo facility, Passin successfully consolidated the production of Volvo and Mack trucks while increasing the production rate and improving quality and productivity.

Passin has a degree in Engineering from Ecole Centrale de Paris. He has also taught Dynamics and 3D Mechanics in the School of Engineering at the University of Bath, U.K.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get in on the ground floor of the exciting automaker and help launch its manufacturing operations," Passin said. "I hope to help Tesla set new standards for environmental efficiency, product quality and employee happiness, and I am eagerly anticipating building our team."

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