ALAMEDA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Wrightspeed, a leading manufacturer of battery electric powertrains for medium and heavy local transport, today announced the expansion of its leadership team with the appointments of Chris Gross as VP Manufacturing, Ann Lee-Blythe as VP Supply Chain, and Derek Richards as Director of Testing and Validation. The expansion comes as Wrightspeed looks to ramp up production and delivery for its award-winning electric powertrains globally.
“As the transportation industry eyes an electric future, interest and demand for superior electric powertrains have never been higher. As a result, we have brought on Chris, Ann and Derek to accelerate our manufacturing, production and supply chain operations,” said Gilbert Passin, CEO & COO, Wrightspeed. “Their experience is unparalleled and their expertise will be invaluable to Wrightspeed as we lead the industry and the company into a new era of sustainable trucking.”
Building a World-Class Team
Chris Gross, Vice President of Manufacturing – In his role, Chris will design, build and run Wrightspeed factories, including hiring personnel and managing manufacturing operations. Chris has a rich history of experience designing and building manufacturing facilities. Prior to Wrightspeed, he led the launch of the Tesla Models S powertrain organization in 2012. Chris built out and led the teams that qualified and scaled the battery assembly and drive unit manufacturing lines. Later he led vehicle general assembly for Tesla, which included installing the S/X manufacturing line and launching Dual Motor Model S and Model X vehicles. Also in his 20-year career, Chris led the design and build of two heavily automated solar panel manufacturing facilities for two different start-up companies. Chris studied Engineering at UC Berkeley and holds an MBA from Santa Clara University – Leavey School of Business.
“I’m excited to join Wrightspeed and enable the adoption of electric powertrains for the commercial vehicle industry,” said Chris Gross, VP of manufacturing, Wrightspeed. “Not only will it have a high impact in reducing greenhouse emissions, it will improve the overall experience for communities when they interact with these electric commercial vehicles.”
Ann Lee-Blythe – Vice President of Supply Chain – In her role, Ann will institute and oversee all aspects of the supply chain infrastructure to maximize efficiency and productivity. Ann has more than 20 years of strategy and operations experience, and has served in several executive supply chain roles. She previously led vision, strategy and execution for all facets of Hewlett Packard’s worldwide strategic alliances and supply chain operations. There, she effectively managed strategic partnerships with enterprise, SMB and consumer businesses that included Microsoft, Intel Corporation, AMD, Qualcomm, and Alibaba. In her position, she also managed teams with accountability for approximately $10B in annual spend while achieving over $200M in incremental year-to-year cost savings. Ann holds a degree in Business Administration and Management, Economics from Marist College, Poughkeepsie, NY.
“As Wrightspeed enters this new phase of growth, a well-oiled supply chain infrastructure will be critical to the company’s ultimate success,” said Ann Lee-Blythe, VP of supply chain, Wrightspeed. “I look forward to joining the Wrightspeed team and implementing proven strategies that will help them achieve and exceed their business goals.”
Derek Richards, Director of Testing and Validation – In his role, Derek oversees all aspects of vehicle testing including government regulations, safety requirements, durability needs, and overall consumer experience. Derek is a seasoned automotive and electric vehicle veteran with more than three decades of experience. Prior to Wrightspeed, Derek served at General Motors (GM) in a variety of engineering and managerial positions. Most recently he served as the company’s Advanced Vehicle Performance Manager for electric trucks including the HUMMER EV, Chevrolet pickup and Escalade, as well as the Volt/Velite5 passenger car models. In his career, Richards also served as GM’s international Regional Vehicle Chief Engineer – ASEAN & Asia Pacific, and Global Vehicle Performance & Validation manager for Isuzu Joint Venture Japan. Derek holds an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University.
“Wrightspeed’s innovations in electric vehicle powertrains are second-to-none,” said Derek Richards, director of testing and validation, Wrightspeed. “Wrightspeed has established itself as a major player in the electrified future of heavy-duty transport and I’m excited to join the company and further their mission to create the next generation of sustainable commercial fleets.”
Wrightspeed’s efficient electric vehicle powertrains come amidst a global push toward sustainable operations. Built for short-haul operations on urban streets, Wrightspeed technology is powering frequent-stop, heavy-duty vehicles such as garbage, delivery and construction trucks, as well as buses. The award-winning company is partnering with countries and international companies to make a global environmental impact.
For more information on Wrightspeed, visit wrightspeed.com.
About Wrightspeed Inc.
Wrightspeed designs and manufactures the world’s cleanest and most efficient electric vehicle (EV) powertrain for medium and heavy-duty vehicles. The company is revolutionizing the environmental impact and economics of heavy transportation by delivering world class EV technology where it’s needed most. Founded in 2005, Wrightspeed is headquartered and manufactures in Alameda, California. For more information about Wrightspeed, visit wrightspeed.com and follow on Twitter at @GOWrightspeed.
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