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Tesla's vice-president of business development departs

[SAN FRANCISCO] Tesla Inc's vice-president of business development has left the company, the latest in a string of management departures as the electric-car maker ramps up production of the Model 3 sedan.

Diarmuid O'Connell, who joined Tesla in 2006, was one of the longest-serving executives at the carmaker and one of the few who spoke on behalf of the company at industry conferences. He was a key point person in chief executive officer Elon Musk's state-by-state battles with car dealers over the company's right to sell cars directly to consumers.

"For more than 11 years, Diarmuid has played an important role in helping Tesla grow from a small startup to a company with a presence around the world," a Tesla spokesman said.

"He started with Tesla before the rollout of Roadster, and now that we've reached the launch of Model 3, he felt the time was right to move on and spend more time with his family."

Mr O'Connell's team and responsibilities will be overseen by Jon McNeill, Tesla's president of global sales and service, the company said.

Tesla turned over the first batch of Model 3 vehicles to employees in late July and aims to make 20,000 a month by December. As it seeks to sell a more affordable electric car in high volumes, it has cranked up the legal pressure over its right to eschew the traditional dealership model and sell cars directly to consumers.

"I've been privileged to be part of a team that sparked a revolution in global electromobility," Mr O'Connell said.

"There is no turning back on the road to a world of electric vehicles and sustainable energy generation and use."

Mr O'Connell, 53, lives near Aspen, Colorado, with his family and clocked thousands of miles of travel each year overseeing a business development and regulatory policy team of roughly 50 people.