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Tesla poaches Audi exec to help reach 500K production goal

Peter Hochholdinger will serve as vice president of vehicle production, presumably tasked with keeping the Model 3 launch on target.

Tesla has reportedly poached Audi veteran Peter Hochholdinger to serve as vice president of vehicle production.

With more than two decades at Volkswagen Group, Hochholdinger has served as senior director of production for the A4, A5 and Q5, overseeing analysis and start of production for 380,000 vehicles per year, according to his LinkedIn profile.

The hire is viewed as particularly important as Tesla pushes toward its extremely ambitious goal of 500,000 vehicles built by 2018. Just weeks ago the target had been set for 2020, however 400,000 pre-orders for the Model 3 prompted the company to aim even higher.

As many analysts have pointed out, the shift from Model S and Model X production to the Model 3 is no small challenge. Skeptics point out that each of Tesla's previous launches has been significantly delayed. With little direct competition in the respective segments, the previous hiccups do not appear to have impeded growth.

The Model 3 significantly raises the stakes as Tesla attempts to compete with mainstream automakers. It is scheduled to arrive on the market after the Chevrolet Bolt, and other rivals are expected to follow. The pre-order tally suggests many buyers are currently happy to wait more than a year for the '3', however any significant delays could be costly to the company's reputation and growth plans.

Several key production executives left Tesla earlier this month, setting the stage for a broader shakeup as the company brings in fresh talent to ensure Model 3 development remains on schedule. A new "growth team" is said to include former Facebook and Uber executives, providing additional Silicon Valley expertise in explosive growth.

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