tesla6.jpgTesla Motors, the high-profile Silicon Valley electric car company, announced it has appointed Ze’ev Drori, an experienced entrepreneur and car enthusiast, as its new chief executive officer.

This completes an arduous search process that spanned several months.

tesla-ceo.jpgDrori (pictured left) replaces interim CEO Michael Marks, who took the helm in August. The shuffle comes after the company announced a couple of delays to its first car’s release.

Tesla is first building an ambitious sports car that will go zero to 60 mph in 4 seconds. It has received $105 million in investment from a variety investors including Jeff Skoll, eBay’s original president, Elon Musk, a PayPal co-founder and Google’s co-founders.

Drori has joined the company at a critical stage: The company plans to release its first vehicles in the first quarter of 2008. The company is working on transmission durability with a new supplier, which could affect the speed with which subsequent cars will hit the market.

In an interview with VentureBeat, Drori said Tesla can be a leader in efficient electric vehicles, and that help with the important goal of transitioning the industry away from dependence on foreign oil.Drori has more than 30 years of experience running companies. The first company Drori founded was Monolithic Memories, a Silicon Valley semiconductor firm that pioneered fundamental advances in memory and logic technology, before being acquired by AMD in 1987. After the sale of Monolithic Memories, Drori purchased a controlling interest in Clifford Electronics, then a small start-up in auto security systems, and joined as its chairman and CEO. In 1999, Drori sold Clifford Electronics to Allstate Insurance.

The two-seat roadster will be released at a base price of $98,000. Tesla says it then plans to expand its vehicle fleet to include affordable electric compact and family cars, which may do more to reduce carbon emissions. Tesla says the price for its vehicles will drop in the near future.

Some critics, including well-known technology investor Vinod Khosla say electric cars will have little to no effect on slowing rising carbon emissions.