Tesla names CEO ahead of electric Roadster launch

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Tesla Motors named a veteran Silicon Valley entrepreneur and car enthusiast as its new chief executive on Wednesday as the company starts production next quarter of the all-electric Roadster sports car.

Ze’ev Drori will become CEO effective Dec. 3, said Tesla Chairman Elon Musk, the founder of PayPal who is one of the start-up’s main investors.

Drori founded a pioneering Silicon Valley semiconductor chip maker called Monolithic Memories in 1969 and then started a car accessories company in the 1980s after he sold Monolithic to Advanced Micro Devices in 1987.

“Advancing our leading electric drivetrain technology is critical, but, above all, the Tesla CEO must be someone who will ensure that the products we deliver to customers are outstanding,” Musk said in a statement.

Tesla co-founder Martin Eberhard stepped down as CEO a few months ago to concentrate on technology and development.

Tesla has some 600 orders for the high-performance Roadster, built in coordination with Britain’s Lotus Engineering.

But the first deliveries of the highly anticipated sports car are at least six months behind the original schedule after a late change in its transmission vendor.

The two-seater Roadster, which has a base price of $98,000, can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4 seconds and has a range of more than 200 miles on a single charge on a household plug. (Reporting by Mary Milliken; Editing by Gary Hill)