Tesla hires Toyota manufacturing veteran; launches UK roadster

Tesla Motors has hired a Toyota manufacturing expert to lead its operations. In addition, Tesla launched its Roadster in the United Kingdom, which is showering the sports car with tax breaks.

Tesla Motors, which is prepping for an initial public offering, said Wednesday that it has hired a Toyota manufacturing expert to lead its operations. In addition, Tesla launched its Roadster in the United Kingdom, which is showering the sports car with tax breaks.

The company said it has Gilbert Passin, who was general manager for production engineering at Toyota. Passin will be charged with leading Tesla's manufacturing efforts.

In a statement, Tesla noted the Toyota recall and said that the company's "manufacturing production process continues to be regarded as one of the most efficient in automotive assembly." Passin was also vice president of manufacturing at Toyota's plant in Cambridge Ontario.

Tesla is currently building out its manufacturing and production efforts to launch its Model S sedan (right). Tesla is also recruiting manufacturing experts. The details of Tesla's strategy was outlined in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission:

The strategy goes like this:

  • Launch the Model S commercially in 2012. In the meantime, the company is finishing design, engineering and component sourcing for the car.
  • Build a common platform for new model launches.
  • Develop integrated engineering and manufacturing operations.
  • Focus on improving costs and innovation while leveraging new advancements in battery cell technology.
  • Expand its sales and service network.

Meanwhile, Tesla's challenge is clear. For the nine months ending Sept. 30, Tesla reported a net loss of $31.5 million on revenue of $93.4 million. In addition, Tesla needs to build out its manufacturing capabilities, supply chain and engineering teams. The company said in an SEC filing:

We have no experience to date in high volume manufacturing of our electric vehicles. We do not know whether we will be able to develop efficient, automated, low-cost manufacturing capability and processes, and reliable sources of component supply, that will enable us to meet the quality, price, engineering, design and production standards, as well as the production volumes required to successfully mass market the Model S. Even if we are successful in developing our high volume manufacturing capability and processes and reliable sources of component supply, we do not know whether we will be able to do so in a manner that avoids significant delays and cost overruns, including as a result of factors beyond our control such as problems with suppliers and vendors, or in time to meet our vehicle commercialization schedules or to satisfy the requirements of customers. Any failure to develop such manufacturing processes and capabilities within our projected costs and timelines could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, operating results and financial condition.

Separately, Tesla launched its Roadster sports car (right) in a London showroom. The 2010 right-hand drive Roadster is garnering a bevy of tax breaks in the UK. For instance, UK companies that buy a Roadster can get a 100 percent "writing down allowance" so they can deduct the full price of the car from taxable profits. The Roadster is also exempt from other UK taxes such as the "Showroom Tax" and London's congestion charge.

Tesla's Roadster starts at £86,950.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com