• Jul 9, 2008
If Tesla has learned anything from the development of the Roadster over the past five years, it's that building a production car that meets present day regulations is a lot harder than anyone in Silicon Valley guessed. The process is filled with all kinds of potholes and having some people on the team with experience navigating those craters can be a big help. During AutoblogGreen's recent conversation with Tesla Chairman Elon Musk, he revealed that the company would have several experienced auto industry people coming aboard soon. The first of those new recruits has now been revealed as Mike Donoughe, Tesla's new Executive Vice President for vehicle development and manufacturing. Donoughe is a 24-year veteran of Chrysler who resigned from his VP post there three months ago, and was instrumental in the effort to redesign Chrysler's mid-sized cars. At Tesla he will be responsible for vehicle engineering for the Roadster and Model S except for the drivetrain. Initially, Donoughe will focus on getting the Model S' engineering and manufacturing sorted out. The Tesla press release is after the jump.

[Source: Tesla Motors, via AutoblogGreen]

PRESS RELEASE

Mike Donoughe, Industry Veteran, Joins Tesla Motors as EVP Vehicle Engineering and Manufacturing

SAN CARLOS, CA – Mike Donoughe, a veteran auto industry executive, has joined Tesla Motors as Executive Vice President, Vehicle Engineering and Manufacturing. In this role, Mike will be responsible for manufacturing, supply chain, quality and operations for the company. In addition, Mike will oversee both the Roadster Program and the 'Model S' program, a 4 door, 5 passenger electric sports sedan.

Donoughe, 49, was previously Vice President of 'Project D' at Chrysler, where he led the redesign of their global mid-size vehicle portfolio. Mike spent 24 years at Chrysler, where he led various product creation efforts, including the Stow N Go minivans, Jeep Wrangler and Dodge Ram programs. Mike also spent 3 years with Mercedes Benz in Stuttgart as Director of passenger car development, M and R Class, and is recognized as one of the top engineers in the auto industry.

"Mike is a very valuable addition to our leadership team. His track record, expertise and leadership will help Tesla as we prepare for significant growth." said Tesla CEO Ze'ev Drori. "Mike's immediate priorities are to ensure that production of the Tesla Roadster runs smoothly and efficiently and to drive the continued development of our next car, the 'Model S' a 4 door, 5 passenger sports sedan."

"I joined the Tesla team because I am enthusiastic about Tesla's objective to integrate their disruptive EV technology into mainstream automobiles," said Mike Donoughe, "Tesla is creating vehicles that appeal to customers looking for environmentally sound & energy efficient solutions without compromising on functionality and performance. I look forward to contributing to these efforts as a part of the Tesla team."

Mike has been married for over 26 years to Shelley and has 3 grown children - David (24), Kaitlin (22), and Kelly (21). Mike will be based at Tesla's headquarters in San Carlos, CA.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 15 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago

      They should have tried to hire someone from Honda or Toyota or maybe even one of the German car companies. Honda and Toyota have factories that are far, far more flexible than any Detroit 3 factory.

      I also doubt anyone from the upper ranks of the old Detroit 3 will fit into a small company where you'll literally need to get your hands dirty on a daily basis.

      By the way, just how hard can it be to procure components and set up a simple assembly line considering that Tesla is a small volume outfit ?

      Scan the required components. Send out requests for bids to several of the top auto component suppliers or to smaller upstarts who are hungry for business. Get pricing, component production and shipping schedules. Find a second source for all components., etc., etc., etc.....

      If these components aren't too exotic or too complicated to make, sourcing them from local Silicon Valley companies might be a simpler solution rather than extending the supply chain all the way out to Detroit or farther.

      • 6 Years Ago
      Why is it that the thought of a new fledgeling company trying to bring a new product to market occurs to me that the last thing they need is an executive from the automotive industry.

      Most of the decision making in the automotive industry is painfully behind the curve.

      Why don't they hire someone from outside the automotive industry, from the tech feild, or something, who knows about breaking into a market with something new, rather than micromanaging and strangling things with old methodology and thinking?

      If I were starting a car company, the LAST person I would want is an ex-executive from a big car company, telling me what everyone else has always been doing, and how things can't be done this way or that.

      Innovation comes with a little bit of distance.

      Just as an anecdotal example, take Apple Computer. They make nice machines, and a great operating system. But where did they really shatter the industry?

      Music players, and now cellular phones. Apple was not a music producing or a consumer electronics company like Sony is, on both fronts. They were a tiny little PC company with a "non-compatible" computer product.

      Apple is not a cellular phone company like Nokia, others.

      Yet the iPod, then the iTunes Music Store, and now the iPhone have revolutionized the markets they work in.

      Because Apple approached the projects as an outsider asking what could be possible, rather than approaching the problem as an insider, following the same old trends that continue to propogate themselves. That is why they have had so much trouble from RIAA, and others, because they have shattered the old paradigm, and aren't doing the same old business as usual.

      A new car company trying to make a new car should be looking in as an outsider, and as RFK is credited with saying: "Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not."

      Steve Jobs has also referred to Henry Ford's old saying...
      “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said 'faster horses'.”

      It isn't the customers anymore who might ask for faster horses, it is the automotive insiders and decision makers that can't break away from simply building "faster horses" rather than a truly new innovation.

      New innovation is going to come from outsiders in other fields, not insiders doing the same things, hoping for different outcomes. (the definition of insanity, btw.)
        • 6 Years Ago
        Ask a designer or artist type what they run their Adobe Creative Suite (Illustrator, Photoshop...) on... a Mac or a PC

        Adobe says it works on both... but those programs run BETTER on Apples OS.

        Agree with you 100% about Apple taking their ground breaking thinking to the i-Pod & i-phones as well... but the Computer's advantage over a PC when it comes to the Design & Animation world can't be overlooked.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not."

        Originally a George Bernard Shaw quote but whatever. It's kinda lame anyway. One of the biggest problems with society today is there are too few people asking why.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "If I were starting a car company, the LAST person I would want is an ex-executive from a big car company, telling me what everyone else has always been doing, and how things can't be done this way or that."

        Hey MK how old are you first of all? Secondly, have you ever had a position in the auto industry or any other for that matter? Inferring that anyone from a large car company has nothing to offer but bad business habits shows your lack of understanding of the auto industry.

        There's a hugh difference between the auto and tech industry: tech doesn't have the long leadtimes, extensive gov't regulation, complicated domestic supply chain management, and dealer issues to name a few. Hey if it were as easy as you say to hve tech people from outside big auto make a quality car, then why has Tesla not delivered any Roadsters after commiting to lauch it 10 months ago?
        • 6 Years Ago
        I've also noticed another great key phrase you mentioned: game changer. You are absolutely correct. Tesla should represent innovation. And following that part of your analogy, you are also correct. Tesla should start by taking up a small market share and then innovating in order to rapidly grow their company. By providing new, state of the art products, Tesla can change the entire "game" of the domestic auto industry.

        RS, for too long the domestic auto companies have been using your excuses as their excuses for poor performance. Not only is your argument full of fallacies, you also attacked MK inappropriately. You have no known qualifications for making your argument and yet you tell MK that he has "a lack of understanding of the auto industry."

        Innovation doesn't come easy. But innovation doesn't come from someone who has previously ran a complete failure of a company.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Azzo,

        I support hundreds of Macs and PCs at a design school... So yeah. I know a bit about that.

        I completely agree with your points, and I am a mac user by choice, and have been for many many years, long before Steve Jobs' return to Apple.

        But my point was that Apple was a 5% marketshare computer company in the computer industry, and not even a wintel clone maker, that chose to hit the music and cellular phone industries, and hit them HARD with revolutionary ideas, rather than evolutionary ones.

        Arguably, Apple has more drastically and quickly affected the music industry, than it has affected the computer industry over time.

        Music and consumer electronics companies, and cell phone companies probably would not have come up with those innovations without external input, because they do, and have done business a certain way for a while, and, in essence, just build "faster horses" as Henry Ford would say.

        When ford started, he wasn't a giant company, and he didn't operate like the carriage makers. He didn't invent the horseless carriage, there were lots of little examples that were unique little novelty products.

        The model T changed that game, and REPLACED a lot of horse drawn cargo, and even took a bite out of local freight train service, after becoming established... Now there is more over-the-road freight than rail freight, and very nearly every household, regardless of income has at least one car, unless living in a dense urban area, where it isn't tenable to keep one.

        The auto industry needs a GAME CHANGER, and insider execs are the least likely source for that. Outsiders with new ideas are the most likely.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think that Tesla learned a lot.

      The people on the team with experience can make the difference.
      • 6 Years Ago
      This has to be the possible career move yet for him.
      • 6 Years Ago
      That's a relief. I was just about to dump on the Sebring and Avenger too.
      • 6 Years Ago

      At the way Chrysler is going, soon there might be a lot of ex-Chrysler employees looking for a new job.
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