Pradzinski said in a text message that he left HAAH for an opportunity at a new startup, but he declined to identify the venture. Asked to comment on HAAH's future, Pradzinski said briefly, "I still believe they are on track."
Pradzinski had been with HAAH since January 2016. One of HAAH's big selling points to prospective dealers, who have paid up to $150,000 per sales point with no guarantee of vehicle deliveries, has been its deeply experienced executive team.
HAAH's business model has shifted, hampered by trade tariffs, the coronavirus pandemic and financial problems at its original Chinese partner.
The startup originally planned to import vehicles, then to partially assemble them in the U.S. with a "Made in America" marketing message. This year, HAAH shifted back to importing vehicles and paying the 27.5 percent tariff that the U.S. imposes on Chinese autos.
Hale said last week that a planned joint venture with a division of China's Chery Automobile Co. is moving forward, following a letter of intent signed in April. Hale said he believes that the deal will be formalized soon. Vehicles are expected by the end of 2022 at the earliest.
When it was originally recruiting dealers several years ago, HAAH's plan was to have imported models from a different manufacturer on sale by late 2019 or early 2020.
Randy Stoops, a Buick-GMC dealer in Indiana, said he signed up with HAAH because of his long relationship with Hale and he feels confident the business plan is moving forward despite the executive resignations and delays in bringing vehicles to the market.
"We all wish it was yesterday instead of tomorrow," Stoops said of the arrival of Chery vehicles, to be sold under the Vantas and T-GO brands created by HAAH for the U.S. market.
But Stoops said he also understands the setbacks with the pandemic and other external factors.
"I feel confident as long as Duke thinks we are going forward," he said.