Top sales executive leaves Tesla image

George Blankenship, the lead architect of Tesla’s sales strategy and distribution network for more than three years, left the electric carmaker last month, according to his LinkedIn page.

The exit comes at a sensitive time for Chief Executive Elon Musk, who is facing a federal safety investigation into the Model S electric sedan after three cars caught fire in less than two months. Tesla is also in the midst of expanding stores in Europe, Asia and North America.

Blankenship, a well-regarded executive who helped design Apple’s retail experience, is still listed as vice president of sales and ownership experience on Tesla’s website. But according to his LinkedIn profile, Blankenship is now “Director of Smiles for the Blankenship Family” and “done at Tesla” as of November 2013. It was unclear why Blankenship left the company.

A Tesla spokeswoman did not immediately return messages seeking comment on the move, which was first reported by the San Jose Mercury News newspaper. Tesla shares were flat on the Nasdaq at $122.10. The fires and resulting probe have lopped off about 37 percent from Tesla’s stock price since the end of September.

Via Reuters