Tesla Snares Mazda Design Chief
Styling ace Franz von Holzhausen has left his position as Director of Design for Mazda North America to accept a new post as Design Director for Tesla Motors. This latest spike in the meteoric career of the youthful von Holzhausen stands as an impressive achievement for Tesla, which has announced its intentions to market a full range of electric vehicles over the next several years, including an upscale sedan due in 2010 as well as a more affordable four-door to complement its current high-performance Tesla Roadster. Among von Holzhausen's first challenges will be to create a complete in-house design group for Tesla, something the firm's founder and CEO Elon Musk feels will be a critical element in the future success of the increasingly high-profile company.
A graduate of Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, von Holzhausen has established formidable credentials following his internships at Volkswagen and Ford. During his subsequent eight years at VW, he had a hand in creating both the New Beetle and Audi TT designs. His following five year stint at General Motors was highlighted by the stunning Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky models, achievements that drew the interest of Mazda, where von Holzhausen took over Director of Design duties at its Irvine, California studios in February 2005. Since then, von Holzhausen's teams have been responsible for a number of impressive concept vehicles that will set the design tone for Mazda's future production cars. That formidable list of show cars includes the Kabura, the Nagare and most recently, the Furai, which was displayed at the 2008 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.