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Update: sources with knowledge of the matter tells us that the turnover in Tesla’s leadership team is currently “pretty good” especially for a tech company in Silicon Valley.

Tesla’s executive team has seen more stable days. Electrek learned this week that Tesla’s Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Deputy General Counsel, James Chen, left the automaker earlier in the week to take a job at an undisclosed company. Chen’s departure follows two other VPs who also recently left Tesla, VP of Finance and Worldwide Controller, Michael Zanoni, and Ricardo Reyes, Tesla’s VP of Global Communications.

It now adds up to three senior members of Tesla’s executive team to leave the automaker in about two months.

Chen was a veteran of the EPA and went on to work in the private sector as a partner for two law firms, Hogan & Hartson (1996-2006) and Crowell & Moring (2006-2010), before joining Tesla in 2010 as Director of Public Policy and Associate General Counsel for Regulatory Affairs. He was promoted to Vice-President in 2013 and held the position until last week. 

His role at Tesla was fairly public. He was often the one leading regulatory battles to allow Tesla to sell its vehicles directly to consumers in states where direct sales laws prohibit car manufacturers to operate dealerships.

He describes his latest role at the company in his LinkedIn profile:

“Provide executive level strategic planning and counsel for worldwide regulatory and policy applicable to Tesla products and operations; team with other executives to address challenges to the Company and its business model; and assist in the development and furtherance of strategic business relationships with other manufacturers and business partners.”

Chen recently led the effort to stop the amendment 3 of the Indiana bill HB1254, authored and pushed by General Motors according to Tesla, that would have made it illegal for any manufacturer to hold a car dealer license in the state after 2017, which would effectively ban direct sales of vehicles and force consumers in Indiana to buy vehicles through third-party dealerships.

The Vice President gave a testimony and answered questions before Senators and members of the Indiana Senate Committee on Commerce & Technology.

You can watch his testimony here:

Tesla’s effort was successful in temporarily stopping the bill and sending it to a summer study committee.

The automaker also faces direct sales challenges in Utah, Connecticut, and Michigan, among other states. It was recently revealed that Tesla’s legal team, led by General Counsel Todd Maron, is evaluating the possibility to bring the fight to a federal court.

We’ve asked Tesla for a comment on Chen (and other VPs) recently leaving the company and we will update if a spokesperson gets back to us.

Update: A Tesla spokesperson responded that it’s company policy not the comment on employees.

Featured Image: James C. Chen, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs & Associate General Counsel at Tesla Motors in Columbus on Monday, December 2, 2013. (Columbus Dispatch photo by Jonathan Quilter)

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Fred Lambert

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