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Exclusive: Franz von Holzhausen joins Tesla Motors

Car Design News has obtained exclusive information about Franz von Holzhausen’s next career move. On Thursday of last week, von Holzhausen resigned from Mazda, where he was Director of Design at the R&D Design Center in Irvine CA, to become the Design Director at Tesla Motors.

“It’s going to be an exciting adventure,” von Holzhausen told CDN in an exclusive interview. “I’m looking forward to working at a new startup company that doesn’t have the confines of a large OEM.”

Tesla will be looking to produce a range of new cars according to the famed designer. While the Tesla Roadster was designed by Lotus, Tesla founder and Chairman Elon Musk is “looking to produce electric vehicles for the masses and wanted to bring design in house.”

According to insiders, von Holzhausen was ‘cherry picked’ for that task.

“Tesla is changing the paradigm,” von Holzhausen continued, “We’re going to turn the world on its ear and create high demand through design. There is a new hunger in the air for automotive design and looking to where automobiles are going in the future. Tesla will capture this through good design and engineering.”

von Holzhausen will be charged with building a team that will create the new cars in a new facility. “The location of the new studio is TBD, but it will be in LA to tap the enormous potential of designers,” von Holzhausen said. “I want to bring an incredible sense of design to the market.”

Generally regarded as the ‘golden boy’ at Mazda Design, where he oversaw the design and development of all concept and production vehicles for Mazda North America since February 2005, von Holzhausen’s spearheaded the design of the Nagare and Furai concept cars and played an integral role in the creation of the Ryuga, Hakaze and Taiki. Early in his career at Mazda, he earned recognition for his work on the Kabura concept.

A graduate from Art Center College of Design, von Holzhausen began his career as Assistant Chief Designer in VW’s Design Center California and was involved in various projects from the Concept One to the Microbus. He has also served as Design Manager at General Motors where he was responsible for designing and managing the concept and production design process for the Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Sky, Chevy SS, and various other GM programs.

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