Daimler New-Business Exec to Lead Tesla Sedan ProgramBy John O'Dell December 3, 2010
As if its 5 percent stake in the growing electric-vehicle maker Tesla Motors Inc. weren't enough, automotive giant Daimler AG now is sending one of its star execs to serve as program chief for Tesla's second car coming in 2012 - the Model S sport sedan.
Jerome Guilllen, who most recently was director of Daimler's global business innovations unit and the brains behind the company's successful Car2Go car-sharing program has left the company to become program director for Tesla's Model S, scheduled to begin production in 2012.
Guillen's job switch, first reported by the German business publication Manager Magazin (cq) and confirmed to Edmunds.com by Tesla, is being labeled an amicable move supported by Daimler.
And why wouldn't the move be amicable?
Tesla is working closely with Daimler on its EV programs and Guiillen - reportedly one of a handful of up-and-comers being considered for the powerful Daimler executive board - stands to benefit as much as Tesla from the move.
He'll have a lot of EV production training to bring back to Daimler, presuming he returns at some point - a pretty good bet given the German car maker's history of moving its top executives in and out of partner companies as it did with Chairman Dieter Zetsche, who served a stint as Chrysler CEO from 2000 through 2005 when it was owned by Daimler.
Like Zetsche, Guillen also has served Daimler as head of its U.S.-based Freightliner truck unit. It was Zetsche who tapped him three years ago to move from Freightliner to take on the job of heading Daimler's then-new innovations office.
While he won't be top dog at Tesla (as his mentor was at Chrysler), Guillen's job title indicates he'll have a lot to say about the direction of the company's most critical program going forward. A Tesla spokeswoman would say only that "many people have differing responsibilities for building the Model S."
The car, introduced as a prototype in 2009, is a $57,400, aluminum-bodied, battery-electric 4-door with slinky good looks of an Italian exotic and seating for a well-to-do family of five. Tesla Chairman and CEO Elon Musk considers it the car that will move the company out of the rich-man's-plaything niche it now occupies as maker of the $109,000, 2-seat Roadster, the company's sole model.
Tesla says it has received nearly 2,000 advance reservations for the Model S, despite the fact it's more than a year before production begins. Tesla has set annual production at 20,000 a year for the first two years and is counting on Model S sales to generate sufficient capital to enable it to launch a third all-electric model line priced for middle-income consumers.
Guillen could not be reached for comment.
Model S photo by Tesla