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Tesla Motors Inc.
Type Private
Founded 2003
Headquarters San Carlos, California, USA
Key people Elon Musk (Co-founder, Chairman, CEO, Product Architect)

JB Straubel (Co-founder, Chief Technical Officer)
Deepak Ahuja (Chief Financial Officer)
Franz von Holzhausen (Chief Designer)
Diarmuid O'Connell (Vice President of Business Development)
Peter Rawlinson (Vice President of Engineering)br / Ricardo Reyes (Vice President of Communications)
Martin Eberhard (co-founder)
Marc Tarpenning(co-founder)

Ian Wright (co-founder)
Industry Automotive
Products Tesla Roadster & Tesla Model S
Employees +500

Tesla Motors Inc. is a Silicon Valley-based company that engineers and manufactures electric cars (EVs). It is currently the only automaker building and selling highway-capable EVs in serial production (as opposed to prototype or evaluation fleet production) in North America or Europe. In mid-2009, Tesla was producing about 25 cars per week consisting mostly of custom-ordered vehicles manufactured to owners' specifications.

The Tesla Roadster, the company's first vehicle, is the first production automobile to use lithium-ion battery cells and the first production EV with a range greater than 200 miles (320 km) per charge.[1] The base model accelerates 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 3.9 seconds and, according to Tesla Motor's environmental analysis, is twice as energy-efficient as the Toyota Prius.[2] The company had delivered more than 900 Roadsters to customers in the United States and Europe as of December 2009.[3]

Tesla is currently developing the Model S, an all-electric family sedan. Tesla launched the car March 26, 2009 with an anticipated base price of $57,400 or $49,900 after a US federal tax credit. It will have three battery pack options for a range of up to 300 miles per charge.[4] Tesla has taken more than 1,500 reservations for the Model S and expects to begin production in late 2011 for the 2012 model-year.[5]

Tesla Motors is named for electrical engineer and physicist Nikola Tesla.[6], who invented the AC induction motor that is used in the Tesla Roadster.


Corporate strategy

Tesla's primary goal is to increase the number and variety of EVs available to mainstream consumers in three ways: Tesla sells its own vehicles in a growing number of company-owned showrooms and online;[7] it sells patented electric powertrain components to other automakers so that they may get their own EVs to customers sooner;[8] and it serves as a catalyst and positive example to other automakers, demonstrating that there is pent-up consumer demand for vehicles that are both fun to drive and socially responsible. General Motors' then-Vice Chairman Robert Lutz said in 2007 that the Tesla Roadster inspired him to push GM to develop the Chevrolet Volt, a hybrid sedan prototype that aims to reverse years of dwindling market share and massive financial losses for America's largest automaker.[9] In an August 2009 edition of The New Yorker, Lutz was quoted as saying, "All the geniuses here at General Motors kept saying lithium-ion technology is 10 years away, and Toyota agreed with us -- and boom, along comes Tesla. So I said, 'How come some tiny little California startup, run by guys who know nothing about the car business, can do this, and we can't?' That was the crowbar that helped break up the log jam."[10]

The Tesla Roadster has a base price of US$109,000, prompting criticism in the media that the company is catering exclusively to affluent consumers.[11] Tesla's goal is to sell EVs to mainstream consumers at more affordable prices—but Tesla purposely aimed its first production vehicle at "early adopters" so that the company could optimize the technology before cascading it down to less expensive vehicles.[12] (The company's subsequent car, the Model S sedan, is anticipated to begin production for the 2012 model year with a base price of $57,400, roughly half that of the Roadster.[13]) This approach is a well known business strategy in Silicon Valley and the global technology industry, where prices for cellular phones, laptop computers and flat-screen televisions drop dramatically every product cycle.[14] However, this approach has been rare in the global auto industry, where the prevailing business model has been one of mass production in assembly plants optimized to build hundreds of thousands of vehicles per year with comparatively low sticker prices. According to a blog post by Tesla CEO, Chairman and Product Architect Elon Musk, "New technology in any field takes a few versions to optimize before reaching the mass market and in this case it is competing with 150 years and trillions of dollars spent on gasoline cars."[15]

History and financing

Corporate headquarters in San Carlos, CA

Tesla Motors was incorporated in Delaware on July 1, 2003 [16] by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning to pursue mass production of AC Propulsion's tzero prototype electric car. With a small amount of personal funding, they rented Tesla's first office in Menlo Park, California and set about developing a business plan. They quickly added Ian Wright to the team and in January 2004 started looking for funding to develop an production electric sports car. They arranged with AC Propulsion to borrow their TZero prototype to demonstrate to potential investors the performance possible with an electric car. By April, they found a lead investor in Elon Musk and closed a Series A capital investment round of USD$7.5 million. The round included Compass Technology Partners and SDL Ventures, as well as many private investors. Musk, a South African-born entrepreneur, became Tesla's Chairman of the Board. Musk later led Tesla Motors' Series B, USD$13 million, investment round which added Valor Equity Partners to the funding team. Musk co-led the third, USD$40 million round in May 2006 along with Technology Partners. Tesla's third round included investment from prominent entrepreneurs including Google co-founders Sergey Brin & Larry Page, former eBay President Jeff Skoll, Hyatt heir Nick Pritzker and added the VC firms Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Capricorn Management and The Bay Area Equity Fund managed by JPMorgan Chase.[17 ] The fourth round in May 2007 added another USD$45 million and brought the total investments to over USD$105 million through private financing.

In August 2007, Martin Eberhard was replaced by an interim CEO, Michael Marks.[18] In December 2007, Ze'ev Drori became the permanent CEO and President of Tesla Motors. In January 2008, Tesla Motors fired several key personnel who had been involved from the inception after a performance review by the new CEO.[19] According to Musk, Tesla was forced to reduce the company workforce by about 10 percent to lower its burn rate, which was out of control in 2007.[20]

The fifth round in February 2008 added another USD$40 million. Musk, who was President of PayPal before it was bought by eBay, had contributed $70 million of his own money to the company by this time.

In October 2008, Musk succeeded Ze'ev Drori as CEO. Drori became Vice Chairman. He left the company in December.

By January 2009, Tesla had raised USD$187 million and delivered 147 cars.[20][21]

On May 19, 2009, Germany's Daimler AG, maker of Mercedes, acquired an equity stake of less than 10 percent of Tesla for a reported $50 million.[22] The investment deepened the relationship between the inventor of the automobile and the newest member of the global auto industry. As part of the collaboration, Prof. Herbert Kohler, Vice President E-Drive and Future Mobility at Daimler AG, took a seat on Tesla’s board of directors.[23] In July, Daimler announced that Abu Dhabi's Aabar Investments bought 40 percent of Daimler's interest in Tesla.[24]

In June 2009 Tesla was approved to receive $465 million in interest-bearing loans from the United States Department of Energy. The funding, part of an $8 billion program for advanced vehicle technologies (Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program), supports engineering and production of the Model S sedan, as well as the development of powertrain technology that Tesla plans to sell to other automakers.[25] The low-interest loans are not related to the "bailout" funds that GM and Chrysler have received, nor are they related to the 2009 economic stimulus package. The Department of Energy loan program was created in 2007 during the George Bush administration in order to get more fuel-efficient vehicle options to U.S. consumers and to decrease the country's dependence on foreign oil.[26]

The company announced in early August 2009 that it had achieved overall corporate profitability for the month of July 2009.[27] The company said it earned approximately $1 million on revenue of $20 million. Profitability arose primarily from improved gross margin on the 2010 Roadster, the second iteration of Tesla’s award-winning sports car. Tesla, which like all automakers records revenue when products are delivered, shipped a record 109 vehicles in July and reported a surge in new Roadster purchases.

In September 2009, Tesla announced an $82.5 million round to accelerate Tesla's retail expansion in advance of the Model S.[28] Daimler participated in the round to maintain equity ownership from its initial investment. A new investor was Fjord Capital Partners, under the leadership of founders Michael Obermayer (a former senior partner and director of McKinsey & Company, Inc), Arild Nerdrum and Xavier de La Rochefoucauld. Fjord is a specialized European private equity manager investing into the clean energy sector globally. Fjord invests growth capital in renewable and low-carbon companies and projects.



Tesla Roadster

Tesla Roadster

Tesla Motors' first production vehicle, the Tesla Roadster, is an all-electric sports car. Tesla had delivered 900 cars by December 2009 and was producing vehicles at a rate of roughly 25 per week. According to test results from an EPA certified laboratory, the car has a range of 244 miles (393 km) per charge (using a standard EPA cycle of 45 percent highway driving and 55 percent city driving). On Oct. 27 the Roadster set a new world record when customer Simon Hackett[29] drove the entire 313-mile segment of Australia's annual Global Green Challenge on a single charge.[30] The company and reviewers state that the Tesla Roadster accelerates from zero to 60 mph (97 km/h) in under four seconds and has a top speed of 125 mph (201 km/h) (limited for safety). The cost of powering the vehicle is estimated at US$0.02 per mile.[31] The base price of the car is US$109,000, and it qualifies for numerous state tax waivers, as well as the $7,500 federal tax credit.

Prototypes were introduced to the public in July 2006, and the Tesla Roadster was featured on the cover of Time in December 2006 as the recipient of the magazine's "Best Inventions 2006—Transportation Invention" award.[31] Demand was high for the first "Signature One Hundred" set of fully equipped Roadsters, which sold out in less than three weeks,[32] and the second hundred sold out by October 2007. The first production model was delivered to Elon Musk, then-Chairman of the Board, in February 2008, and general production began on March 17, 2008.[33]

In July 2009, Tesla began production of its 2010 model-year Roadster -- the first major product upgrade since Tesla began production in 2008.[34] Changes to the 2010 model-year vehicle include:[35]

• An upgraded interior and push-button gear selector, including “executive interior” of exposed carbon fiber and premium leather, and clear-coat carbon fiber body accents.

• Locking, push-button glove box wrapped in leather.

• A centrally mounted video display screen to monitor real-time data, including estimated range, power regenerated, and the number of barrels of oil saved. This convenient screen is visible to the driver and passenger.

• Adjustable, custom-tuned suspension with the option of sport and comfort settings.

• More powerful and immediate heating, ventilation and air-conditioning.

• More efficient motor and hand-wound stator. The new motor generates more kilowatts per amp – in other words, more power -- than the predecessor.

• A suite of sound-deadening measures to dramatically reduce noise, vibration and harshness. For instance, engineers added pellets to a member of the chassis side rail. These pellets expand by 5,000 percent during the adhesive heating cycle to eliminate rattles.

Because the Roadster is fully electric, there is no engine cranking sound, so the driver is greeted with a chime. The dashboard, besides displaying RPM and speed, also indicates how many amps are being used instantaneously. There is also a special battery control screen to the left indicating state of charge that is also lit when the car was charging. The Roadster will also be one of almost 1,000 cars featured in the upcoming PlayStation 3 racing simulation game, Gran Turismo 5.

Tesla Roadster Sport

Tesla began taking orders in January 2009 for the Roadster Sport, a higher performance sports car based on the Roadster.

Tesla says the Roadster Sport accelerates from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 3.7 seconds, compared with 3.9 seconds for the standard Roadster.[36] The Roadster Sport price starts at $128,500 in the United States and €112,000 (excluding VAT) in Europe. Deliveries began in July 2009. The Roadster Sport is the first derivative of Tesla’s proprietary, patented powertrain.

The Sport has been critically acclaimed by some of the leading US car critics including Engineering Editor Kim Reynolds of MotorTrend, whose magazine was the first to independently confirm the Roadster Sport's reported 0-60 mph time of 3.7 seconds. (MotorTrend recorded 0-60 mph of 3.70 seconds; it recorded a quarter-mile test at 12.6 sec @ 102.6 mph.) Reynolds called the acceleration "breathtaking" and said the car confirms "Tesla as an actual car company. ...Tesla is the first maker to crack the EV legitimacy barrier in a century." [37]

According to Tesla's in-store marketing materials and third-party media reports,[35] the Sport has:

• Special firmware that brings more torque out of the motor, particularly from 20-50 mph

• Adjustable suspension that can be tuned to the driver’s preference, including a sport or a comfort setting.

• Distinct Sport badging on the interior and exterior of the car, including special “S” insignia on the leather seats.

• Lightweight, forged black wheels.

• Yokohama’s Ultra High Performance tires.

Scotty Pollacheck, a high-performance driver for Killacycle, drove a 2010 Tesla Roadster Sport at the Wayland Invitational Drag Race in Portland, Ore., in July 2009. He did a quarter-mile (~400 m) in dry conditions in 12.643 seconds, setting a new record in the National Electric Drag Racing Association among the SP/A3 class of vehicles.[38] The Roadster Sport is increasingly popular on the drag-racing circuit, according to an August 2009 article in Wired Magazine and a number of YouTube clips.[39]

Model S

Tesla has built a driving prototype and is working on production engineering of the Model S sedan, originally code-named "Whitestar," which the company plans to begin producing in late 2011.[40] Tesla plans to build an assembly plant in California to build the Model S.[41] Tesla has already taken more than 1,500 reservations for the Model S.[5]

It is being designed as an alternative to cars such as the BMW 5 Series and the Audi A6, with an anticipated base price of US$57,400 (or US$49,900 after the federal tax rebate). If one considers the lower cost of electricity vs. gasoline, as well as the lack of routine oil changes and other maintenance, Tesla says the cost of the Model S is similar to internal combustion engine vehicles with a sticker price of roughly $35,000.[42] Tesla is planning on having three options for battery packs, allowing customers to select from 160 mi (260 km), 230 mi (370 km) or 300 mi (480 km) per charge before it must be recharged using a conventional 120 volt, 240 volt or some 480 volt outlets.[43]

On March 26, 2009, Tesla unveiled the Model S design to the public by introducing a concept version of the car in the Tesla Design Studio in Hawthorne, Calif. This car included a touch-screen dashboard with wireless Internet access and remote-programming abilities. It seats five adults (plus two children in rear-facing child seats) and has a 0–60 mph (97 km/h) time of 5.5 seconds.[44] The Model S was featured on Late Show with David Letterman in April 2009. Because the car uses no gasoline whatsoever and does not produce any tailpipe emissions, it was allowed on the Late Show set and was the first fully functioning car on the stage.[45]

Smart city car

In late 2007, Tesla began working with Germany's Daimler AG on powertrain components for an electric version of the German company's Smart two-seater city car. Tesla is producing the battery packs and chargers for an initial 1,000-unit fleet of EV Smarts. Daimler has not released details about the vehicle's pricing or timing. The two companies announced that they were working together on the Smart in January 2009.[46]

Minivan, Crossover, Utility fleet van

Tesla Motors also announced in June 2009, along with their loans from the DOE, that they plan to build electric family-sized minivans, electric SUV crossovers, and electric fleet vans for municipal governments.[47][48]


Tesla Motors' headquarters are located in San Carlos, California, where much of the development of the Tesla Roadster occurred.

United States

Tesla was founded in San Carlos, California, a city in the region known as Silicon Valley. Tesla opened its first retail store in West Los Angeles, Calif., in April 2008. The company opened its second retail store in Menlo Park, Calif., in July 2008.[49] The company opened a display showroom in New York City's Chelsea Art District in July 2009.[50] It also opened a store in Seattle in July 2009. Tesla opened a store in Dania Beach, Florida in December 2009. It plans to open additional stores in Chicago and Washington DC.[7]

Tesla announced in August 2009 that it planned to move its corporate headquarters and build a powertrain development facility at 3500 Deer Creek Road, in the Stanford Research Park in Palo Alto, Calif. Tesla said it would finance the project in part through $100 million of the federal low-interest loans. The facility, a 369,000-square-foot facility on a 23-acre parcel previously occupied by Agilent Technologies, will serve as Tesla's consolidated corporate headquarters, with operations gradually shifting from its present quarters about 10 miles north in San Carlos. The powertrain facility will produce electric vehicle components for Tesla and for other automakers, including Germany's Daimler, which is using Tesla's battery packs and chargers for an upcoming electric version of its Smart city car. About 350 employees are expected to be based at the Stanford site initially, potentially increasing to 650. Stanford Research Park is also home to Facebook, Hewlett Packard, Xerox PARC and other Silicon Valley companies.[51]

Using $365 million in federal low-interest loans, Tesla plans to build a Model S assembly plant in California with a fully ramped-up annual output of 20,000 sedans.[52] Tesla has not announced a specific location, though unconfirmed media reports have focused on Southern California.[53] In the summer of 2009, many speculative media reports suggested that Tesla could occupy the NUMMI assembly plant in Fremont, Calif., which General Motors and Toyota have signaled they plan to vacate.[54] Tesla has said it will develop a brownfield site on existing industrial property—a preference of the federal government in approving candidates for interest-bearing loans from the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program.


Tesla's European headquarters are in Windsor, UK. The Roadster's chassis is currently being assembled by the contract manufacturing division of Lotus Cars in Hethel, England. The Roadster is longer and wider than the Lotus Elise. The two cars have a parts overlap of less than 6 percent.[55]

In June 2009, Tesla opened its first store in Europe—a showroom in central London's Knightsbridge district.[56] In September 2009, Tesla opened its first store in continental Europe—a showroom in downtown Munich. Tesla opened a store in Monaco in November 2009 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony by CEO Elon Musk and car enthusiast Prince Albert II.[57]

Regional sales and service centers

Tesla Motors dealership on Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles, California

Tesla has regional sales and service centers in Menlo Park, California; West Los Angeles, California; Seattle, Washington; Dania Beach, Florida; London, UK; Munich, Germany; and Monaco. Tesla opened the doors to its display showrooms in New York City's Chelsea Art District in July 2009[58] and in Boulder, CO in October 2009. The company says it plans to open the following locations:[7]

Tesla operates company-owned stores. Tesla showrooms include free Wi-Fi, beverages and snacks, coffee bars and couches. Prospective customers can test-drive cars with a salesperson. The company's executives say they model showrooms after retailers such as Apple and Starbucks.[60]

Tesla recommends that customers bring in their car for inspection and firmware updates every year or every 12,000 miles (19,000 km).[61] Tesla operates mobile service squads for customers who do not live near the regional sales and service centers. There is minimal maintenance required of an electric vehicle. Because there is no internal combustion engine, there are no routine oil changes. Brake maintenance is minor due to regenerative braking. Transmission, brake, and cooling system fluid changes will be required roughly every five to seven years or as needed.


Tesla uses several domestic and overseas suppliers and partners. Although the Roadster is an American car according to its vehicle identification number, like virtually all production cars it uses parts from around the world.

Tesla's carbon fiber body panels are made in France by French supplier Sotira. The panels are sent to England, where Tesla contracts with Lotus to build a unique chassis in Hethel, U.K. The cars are then sent to Menlo Park, California, where workers install all of the proprietary intellectual property of the car. The battery pack is assembled in San Carlos, California, using battery cells from Asia. The single-speed gearbox is built by Michigan-based supplier Borg Warner Inc.

When the company began in 2003, Tesla licensed AC Propulsion's Reductive Charging(tm) patent, which integrates the charging electronics into the inverter in a way that reduces mass and complexity. Shortly after the company's founding, Elon Musk convinced JB Straubel to join Tesla and ultimately lead development of the Tesla powertrain well beyond what the company initially licensed from AC Propulsion. The company no longer employs any of AC Propulsion's original intellectual property.[15]


Starting in late 2007, Daimler and Tesla Motors began working closely to integrate Tesla’s lithium-ion battery packs and charging electronics into the first 1,000 units of Daimler’s electric smart car. The two companies are expected to collaborate further, including working together on the Tesla Model S sedan. The collaboration is not expected to result in co-branded cars or the sale of Mercedes vehicles in Tesla showrooms, or vice-versa.

On May 19, 2009, Germany's Daimler AG, maker of Mercedes, acquired an equity stake of less than 10 percent in Tesla for a reported $50 million, according to unconfirmed media reports.[22] The investment deepened the relationship between the inventor of the automobile and the newest member of the global auto industry. As part of the collaboration, Prof. Herbert Kohler, Vice President E-Drive and Future Mobility at Daimler AG, took a seat on Tesla’s board of directors.[23]

On July 13, 2009, Daimler AG sold 40 percent of their May acquisition to Aabar Investments PJSC. Aabar is an investment company controlled by the International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), which is wholly owned by the Government of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.[62][63] (In March 2009, Aabar purchased a 9 percent stake in Daimler for 1,95 billion EUR.)


On April 14, 2008, Tesla Motors filed a lawsuit against Fisker Automotive, alleging that Henrik Fisker "stole design ideas and confidential information related to the design of hybrid and electric cars" and was using that information to develop the Fisker Karma, which was announced at the North American International Auto Show in January, 2008. Tesla had hired Fisker Coachbuild to design the WhiteStar sedan but decided against the design as it was considered "substandard" by Tesla chairman Elon Musk.[64][65] On November 3, 2008, Fisker Automotive Inc. issued a press release indicating that an arbitrator has issued an interim award finding in favor of Fisker Automotive, Inc. and against Tesla Motors Inc. on all claims.[66] Also in March 2008, Magna International filed a lawsuit against Tesla claiming that it was never paid for services rendered. Tesla hired Magna to help design a 2-speed transmission for its Roadster. The Magna-designed transmission is not in use for the current model.[67]

The founding of the company and who can rightly be called "founder" was the subject of a lawsuit filed in May 2009 and later dropped after an out of court settlement.[68][69] On May 26, 2009, Eberhard filed suit in San Mateo County, California against Tesla and Elon Musk (Chairman and CEO of Tesla) for slander, libel and breach of contract.[70] Musk wrote a lengthy blog post that included original source documents, including e-mails between senior executives and other artifacts demonstrating that Eberhard was unanimously fired by Tesla's full board of directors.[15] On July 29, 2009, a judge in San Mateo County, Calif., Superior Court struck down a claim by former CEO Eberhard, who asked to be declared one of only two founders of the company.[71] Tesla said in a statement that the ruling is "consistent with Tesla’s belief in a team of founders, including the company’s current CEO and Product Architect Elon Musk, and Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel, who were both fundamental to the creation of Tesla from inception."[72] In early August, Eberhard withdrew the case,[73] and the parties reached a final settlement September 21. Some provisions are confidential, but the agreement includes a provision that the parties will consider Martin Eberhard, Elon Musk, JB Straubel, Marc Tarpenning, and Ian Wright to be the five co-founders.[74]


In May 2009, Tesla issued a safety recall for 345 Roadsters manufactured before April 22, 2009. Tesla sent technicians to customers' homes to tighten the rear, inner hub flange bolts. Using common verbiage from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, Tesla told customers that without this adjustment, the driver could lose control of the car.[75] The problem originated at the Lotus assembly line, where the Roadster is built. Lotus also recalled some Lotus Elise and Exige vehicles for the same reason. [76] Tesla reminded customers that millions of cars are recalled every year.[77][78]

Board of directors

  • Elon Musk -- Chairman of the board of directors, CEO and Product Architect of Tesla; former President of Paypal, founder, CEO and CTO of SpaceX; Chairman of the board, SolarCity
  • Steve Jurvetson -- Managing Director, Draper Fisher Jurvetson.
  • Ira Ehrenpreis - General Partner, Technology Partners
  • Antonio J. Gracias - CEO and Chairman of the Investment Committee at Valor Equity Partners
  • Brad W. Buss -- Chief Financial Officer, Corporate Secretary and Executive Vice President of Finance and Administration at Cypress Semiconductor Corp.
  • Kimbal Musk - CEO of Medium, Inc., Elon Musk's brother
  • Herbert Kohler - Vice President E-Drive and Future Mobility at Daimler
  • Larry W. Sonsini - Outside counsel and non-directing board member of Tesla; Chairman, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati


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