Tesla Motors’ top marketing vice president George Blankenship has quietly left the company.
His online resume at LinkedIn suggests he left weeks ago, saying his tenure at the Fremont, Calif. electric car maker began July 2010 and ended October 2013 and a summation says “November 2013 – Done at Tesla.”
Perhaps preoccupied with other issues at the moment, Tesla has not made any announcement that the man who’d been largely responsible for its retail store acquisition and marketing strategy has departed.
Tesla still has Blankenship’s bio in place on its Web site where he is listed as its “Vice President, Sales & Ownership Experience.”
For his part, Blankenship whimsically lists his current position at LinkedIn as the “Director of Smiles for the Blankenship Family.”
An explanation for that was discovered by the San Jose Mercury News which said Blankenship, 60, replied via e-mail saying his purpose in leaving the company was to spend more time with his family which includes four grandchildren.
His explanation is not out of the ordinary, but Blankenship’s quiet exit does come at a time of trial for the promising start-up company, and has prompted some cynical queries.
Tesla is currently expanding into Europe and China, and also facing a loss of investor confidence following its third-quarter shareholder letter announcement, and a federal investigation into a fire in Washington State and Tennessee.
Meanwhile media reports and op-ed contributors are focusing more sharply on the company as it defends its mission and intent to benefit society.
Tesla Chairman Elon Musk has said the company’s aim is to go from high-priced cars to affordably priced cars as soon as possible, and enthusiasts eagerly anticipate an electric sedan promising as much as 200 miles range in the $30,000 range in the next two-three years or so.
The Tesla Model S was recently named by Consumer Reports readers as one of the top in owner satisfaction ever. It emits no greenhouse gases, runs on domestically sourced energy, and outperforms cars by automakers who’ve had decades to perfect their offerings.
Despite two fires that occurred within five weeks of each other, the company’s chairman has also defended the Model S as being far safer than internal combustion cars based on extrapolation of national car fire statistics and stellar federal crash test results.
Blankenship had been wooed away from Apple in 2010 by Musk to apply his considerable retail talents in positioning Tesla as an Apple-like automaker with a maverick and controversial retail store model.
Whether Tesla will have an official statement on Blankenship’s departure remains to be seen. The executive was known as a likeable and approachable person who lived up to his title by showing personal concern for customer satisfaction.