Tesla VP of Service Takes Leave of Absence as Model X Nears

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The man in charge of ensuring that Tesla customers are happy with their electric vehicles has taken an unexplained leave of absence less than two months before the company begins delivering its first SUVs.

Jerome Guillen, Tesla Motors Inc.’s vice president of worldwide service and deliveries, is on leave until the end of the year. The company is set to begin delivering the Model X, a sport utility vehicle that was first unveiled in early 2012, in late September. Palo Alto, California-based Tesla recently reduced its delivery forecast for 2015 as well as its production forecast for next year.

Guillen told the automaker run by Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk on Aug. 4 that he would be taking the leave, according to a regulatory filing by Tesla, which didn’t disclose a reason. Two days later, the board determined that Guillen was no longer an officer required to report ownership under U.S. securities law, the filing said.

From April 15 through July 15, he had exercised 19,250 options to generate gross profits of more than $4 million, according to previous filings.

Ricardo Reyes, a Tesla spokesman, declined to comment on the matter Monday. Guillen didn’t immediately respond to a phone call on Monday.

Track Record

Guillen, who has a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan and previously worked at Daimler AG, joined Tesla in November 2010 and oversaw the development of the Model S sedan. He was promoted to vice president of worldwide sales and service in April 2013.

“Jerome started off as the Model S program manager and we had some real problems with our service capability,” Musk said during remarks at the World Energy Innovation Forum, held at Tesla’s Fremont, California, factory, last year. “I asked Jerome to switch from being program manager to running service. He did a great job. I asked him if he could do sales too. If people have the right attitude and are smart, they can do a lot of things.”

In March, Guillen was reassigned to a role focused on customer satisfaction after Tesla struggled to gain traction in China.

Tesla hired Ganesh Srivats, a former Burberry executive, last month to lead North American sales and enhance the brand’s luxury reputation to an increasingly global audience. Last week, Musk said that a regional head of sales for Asia had also been hired.

In addition, Tesla is searching for a replacement for Chief Financial Officer Deepak Ahuja, whose plans to retire when a replacement is found were announced at the shareholders meeting in June.

Tesla’s board also determined that Doug Field, a former Apple executive who is vice president of engineering, is now an officer required to report stock transactions under U.S. securities law.

Tesla shares fell 0.6 percent to $241.14, the lowest closing price since May 11.

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