Supercar engineer and racing driver honoured by the University of Hertfordshire

An accomplished racing driver, who has also worked on the design and build of a number of supercars has been honoured by the University of Hertfordshire in recognition of his contribution to the automotive industry.


Chris Porritt, former Vice President of Vehicle Engineering at Tesla, who currently resides in California, was presented with the honorary award of Doctor of Science at a ceremony held at St Albans Abbey, on Tuesday 12 September.


Chris graduated from Hatfield Polytechnic in 1991 with a Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering. He then worked for ten years for Land Rover, who sponsored him through his studies. By the time he left Land Rover, he had worked his way up the ranks to become a Principle Engineer in Vehicle Dynamics.


From Land Rover, Chris went to work for Aston Martin as a Vehicle Engineering Manager. He established the company’s vehicle engineering team, and eventually became the Chief Engineer for the Small Series Projects Group, which, among others, delivered the company’s One-77 supercar. With a top speed of 220 miles per hour, advanced structural design, cutting-edge active suspension and aerodynamics, the One-77 has been the recipient of a number of internationally renowned awards, including the UK magazine Auto Express Best Design Award.


Then in 2013 he was appointed Vice President of Vehicle Engineering at Tesla Motors in California, the world’s leading manufacturer of electric cars. He was recruited both for his engineering expertise and his leadership skills. He was involved with a number of high-profile and innovative projects with Tesla, including the Model S, the Model X and the initial phases of the Model 3 electric vehicles. Under Chris’ management, the Model S became the safest saloon on the road, and was also recognised as the fastest accelerating production car ever produced, the first electric car to top the monthly new car sales ranking in any country, and the world’s best-selling plug-in electric car in 2015.


Early in 2015 Chris’ career moved in quite a different direction, and he is now working as one of the leaders of Apple Inc. Special Projects Group.


In addition, Chris has driven for Aston Martin in the Nürburgring 24 hours, Bahrain 24 hours and Silverstone 24 hours races, as well as the inaugural GT4 European Cup at Silverstone in 2006.


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