Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tesla Motors

Tesla Motors Inc.
TypePublic (NASDAQ: TSLA)
Founder(s)Martin Eberhard
Marc Tarpenning
JB Straubel
Elon Musk
Ian Wright
HeadquartersPalo Alto, California, USA
Key peopleElon Musk (Chairman, CEO, Product Architect)
JB Straubel (Chief Technical Officer)
Franz von Holzhausen (Chief Designer)
ProductsTesla Roadster
Tesla Model S
Net incomedecreaseUS$-55.7 million (2009)
Tesla Motors Inc. is a Silicon Valley-based company that designs, manufactures and sells electric vehicles (EVs) and electric vehicle powertrain components. It is currently the only automaker building and selling a zero-emission sports car in serial production (as opposed to prototype or evaluation series production).Tesla is also deep into the engineering and production development of a zero-emission premium sedan, the Model S, which will be built in Fremont, California. Tesla also sells its electric powertrain components to other automakers, including Daimler and Toyota.


Tesla Motors is named after electrical engineer and physicist Nikola Tesla. The Tesla Roadster uses an AC motor descended directly from Tesla's original 1882 design, which he said came to him in a feverish hallucination due to exhaustion when he was working as an engineer and inventor in Austria-Hungary.

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. 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. As of January 2011, Tesla had delivered more than 1,500 Roadsters in at least 30 countries. Tesla has said that it will produce a total serial production run of 2,400 Roadsters. Tesla began producing right-hand-drive Roadsters in early 2010 for the UK and Ireland markets, then expanded sales to right-hand-drive markets of Australia, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Tesla is currently developing the Model S, an all-electric family sedan. Tesla unveiled the car March 26, 2009 with an anticipated base price of US$57,400 (or US$49,900[13] after a US federal tax credit). The Model S will have three battery pack options for a range of up to 300 miles (480 km) per charge.As of January 2011, Tesla has taken about 3,500 reservations for the Model S and expects to begin delivering cars to customers in 2012. Tesla currently employs more than 500 people and is aggressively recruiting employees for positions in the headquarters in Palo Alto, California; at its European headquarters in Maidenhead, UK; and at an increasing number of sales facilities throughout North America and Europe. Tesla plans to build the Model S in 2012 in Fremont, California in an assembly plant formerly operated by NUMMI, a now defunct joint venture of Toyota and General Motors. Tesla purchased a stake in the site in May 2010 for US$42 million, and opened the facility in October 2010 as the Tesla Factory.

Corporate strategy

Current corporate headquarters in Palo Alto, California
One of Tesla's stated goals 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; it sells patented electric powertrain components to other automakers so that they may get their own EVs to customers sooner; 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 high-performance and efficient. 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 that aims to reverse years of dwindling market share and massive financial losses for America's largest automaker. 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." Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk won the 2010 Automotive Executive of the Year Innovator Award for hastening the development of electric vehicles throughout the global automotive industry.

The Tesla Roadster has a base price of US$109,000, €84,000 or GB£86,950 (not including numerous tax incentives, credits and waivers). 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. The company's subsequent car, the Model S sedan, is anticipated to begin production for the 2012 model year with a base price of US$57,400 (or US$49,900 after a US federal tax credit), roughly half that of the Roadster. The company then plans to launch a US$30,000 vehicle, codenamed BlueStar.Tesla also builds electric powertrain components for more affordable cars including the lowest priced car from Daimler, the smart urban commuter car; the lowest priced car to carry the Mercedes badge, the A-Class hatch back; and the lowest priced SUV from Toyota, the RAV4.

Aiming premium products at affluent "thought leaders" is a well known business strategy in Silicon Valley and the global technology industry, where prices for the first versions of cellular phones, laptop computers and flat-screen televisions start high but drop in subsequent product cycles. However, this approach has been relatively 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."

History and financing

Tesla Motors was incorporated in Delaware on July 1, 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning to pursue serial production of AC Propulsion's tzero prototype electric sports car. With a limited amount of personal funding, they rented Tesla's first office in Menlo Park, California and began developing a skeletal business plan to commercialize the electric sports car. They added Ian Wright to the team and in January 2004 started looking for funding to develop a 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.

Independently, entrepreneur Elon Musk had been developing a business strategy to commercialize electric vehicles on a far broader scale, starting with a premium sports car aimed at "early adopters" and then moving as rapidly as possible into more mainstream vehicles, including sedans and compacts. After his first meeting with Eberhard and Tarpenning, Musk took an active role within the company and oversaw Roadster product design; in fact, Eberhard acknowledged that Musk was the person who insisted from the beginning on a carbon fiber body, and he led design of components ranging from the power electronics module to the headlamps and other styling cues. In addition to his daily operational roles, Musk also became the lead investor, funding the vast majority of the Series A capital investment round of US$7.5 million with personal funds. Musk also became Tesla's Chairman of the Board, recruited JB Straubel to become chief technology officer and greatly expanded Tesla's long-term strategic sales goals to mainstream vehicles to be developed after a sports car.Musk received the Global Green 2006 product design award for his design of the Tesla Roadster, presented by Mikhail Gorbachev, and he received the 2007 Index Design award for his design of the Tesla Roadster.

Musk's Series A round included Compass Technology Partners and SDL Ventures, as well as many private investors. Musk later led Tesla Motors' Series B, US$13 million, investment round which added Valor Equity Partners to the funding team. Musk co-led the third, US$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. The fourth round in May 2007 added another US$45 million and brought the total investments to over US$105 million through private financing.

In December 2007, Ze'ev Drori became the 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.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.

The fifth round in February 2008 added another US$40 million. Musk had contributed US$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 US$187 million and delivered 147 cars.

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 US$50 million. In July 2009, Daimler announced that Abu Dhabi's Aabar Investments bought 40 percent of Daimler's interest in Tesla.

In June 2009 Tesla was approved to receive US$465 million in interest-bearing loans from the United States Department of Energy. The funding, part of an US$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. 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.

The company announced in early August 2009 that it had achieved overall corporate profitability for the month of July 2009. The company said it earned approximately US$1 million on revenue of US$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 US$82.5 million round to accelerate Tesla's retail expansion in advance of the Model S. 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 Motors signed a production contract on 11 July 2005 with Group Lotus to produce "gliders" for Tesla. Tesla Motors originally signed a production contract with Group Lotus good through March 2011, but the two automakers revealed they have extended the deal to keep the electric Roadster in production through December 2011 with a minimum number of 2,400 units, when production is unlikely to continue mostly because of tooling changes orchestrated by one of its suppliers.

On 29 January 2010, Tesla Motors filed Form S-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, as a preliminary prospectus indicating its intention to file an initial public offering underwritten by Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, J. P. Morgan and Deutsche Bank Securities. In a standard S-1 update filed March 26, Tesla added fourth-quarter 2009 data to the initial filing. According to the update, Tesla sold 937 Tesla Roadsters to customers in 18 countries and generated US$126.8 million in revenue as of Dec. 31, 2009. On May 21, 2010, Tesla announced a "strategic partnership" with Toyota, which agreed to purchase US$50 million in Tesla common stock issued in a private placement to close immediately after Tesla's planned IPO.Executives at both companies said that they would cooperate on "the development of electric vehicles, parts, and production system and engineering support."Less than two months later, Toyota and Tesla confirmed that their first platform collaboration would be to build an electric version of the RAV4 EV.

In June 2010, it was reported that Tesla sold a total of US$12.2 million zero emission vehicle credits to other automakers, including Honda, up to March 31, 2010. On June 29, 2010 Tesla Motors launched its initial public offering on NASDAQ under the symbol TSLA. The IPO raised US$226 million for the company. It was the first American car maker to go public since the Ford Motor Company had its IPO in 1956.


Tesla Roadster
Main article: Tesla Roadster

Tesla began producing right-hand drive Roadsters in January 2010 and sells them in the UK, Australia and parts of Asia.

The single-speed Tesla Roadster's interior comes with a push-button gear selector in the center console.
Tesla Motors' first production vehicle, the Tesla Roadster, is an all-electric sports car. Tesla announced in January 2011 that it had delivered more than 1500 Roadsters in at least 30 countries. The car has a range of 245 miles (394 km) per charge on average according to testing done by Tesla. On Oct. 27, 2009, the Roadster driven by Simon Hackett drove the entire 313-mile (504 km) segment of Australia's annual Global Green Challenge on a single charge, at an average speed of 25mph. The Tesla Roadster can accelerate from zero to 60 mph (97 km/h) in under four seconds and has a top speed of 125 mph (201 km/h).

The base price of the car is US$109,000, €84,000 or GB£87,945. The cost of powering the Roadster is estimated at US$0.02 per mile, compared with roughly US$0.25 per mile for a comparable sports car.

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. The first "Signature One Hundred" set of fully equipped Roadsters sold out in less than three weeks,the second hundred sold out by October 2007, and general production began on March 17, 2008.

Since February 2008, when production first began, two new models have been introduced, one in July 2009, and another in July 2010. Both new models feature various upgrades.In January 2010, Tesla began producing its first right-hand-drive Roadsters for the UK and Ireland, then began selling them in mid-2010 in Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia.

Tesla Roadster Sport
Main article: Tesla Roadster
Tesla Roadster Sport 2.5, the company's fourth-generation Roadster.
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.The Roadster Sport price starts at US$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 acclaimed by Engineering Editor Kim Reynolds of MotorTrend, whose magazine recorded a 0-60mph of 3.70 seconds and a quarter-mile test at 12.6 sec @ 102.6mph. Reynolds called the acceleration "breathtaking" and said that the car's sales confirm "Tesla as an actual car company. ...Tesla is the first maker to crack the EV legitimacy barrier in a century."

In the March 2010 print edition of British enthusiast magazine EVO (p. 120), editor Richard Meaden was the first to review the new right-hand-drive version of the Roadster Sport. He said the car had "serious, instantaneous muscle." "With so much torque from literally no revs the acceleration punch is wholly alien. Away from traffic lights you'd murder anything, be it a 911 Turbo, GT-R or 599, simply because while they have to mess about with balancing revs and clutch, or fiddle with launch controls and invalid warranties, all you have to do is floor the throttle and wave goodbye."

Model S
Main article: Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S sedan, which the company expects to begin producing in 2012 with an anticipated US base price of US$57,400.

The Model S features a 17-inch, customizable touchscreen with wireless Internet access and remote-programming abilities.
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 delivering to customers in 2012. Tesla plans to build an assembly plant in California to build the Model S. As of March 2010, Tesla has already taken about 2,000 reservations for the Model S in North America and Europe.

The Model S is designed as an alternative to cars such as the BMW 5 Series, the Audi A6, and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, with an anticipated base price of US$57,400. Tesla plans to sell the car worldwide and will introduce regional pricing closer to the beginning of deliveries in 2012. 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.

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.

Mercedes A-Class

Tesla and Daimler have confirmed that Tesla is building electric powertrain components for an electric version of the Mercedes A-Class, the luxury brand's most affordable car. The electric version of the popular hatchback (expected to be called the A-Class E-Cell) is expected to be delivered to customers starting in early 2011 and have a range of 124 miles (200 km), with 214 foot pounds (290N·m) of torque. The 40 kW battery pack will contain approximately 4,000 individual lithium-ion cells.Daimler is not expected to sell the electric version outside of Europe.

Daimler is expected to unveil the production version of the A-Class E-Cell in September 2010 at the Paris Motor Show. Only 500 cars will be built for trial purposes in Europe next year.

Daimler Smart
Main article: Smart electric drive

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.

Toyota RAV4 EV crossover SUV

Tesla Motors and Toyota announced in July 2010 that the two companies have signed an agreement to initiate the development of a second generation of the compact Toyota RAV4 EV. Toyota plans to introduce the model into the market by 2012.

A second generation RAV4 EV demonstrator was unveiled at the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show. Toyota is building 35 of these converted RAV4s for a demonstration and evaluation program that will run through 2011. The lithium metal-oxide battery and other powertrain components are supplied by Tesla Motors.

Minivan, crossover, utility fleet van, cabriolet

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. The utility van and cabriolet are expected to be based on the Tesla Model S platform, along with the Tesla Model X crossover SUV.

The company is supplying battery packs for Freightliner Trucks's Custom Chassis Electric Van.


Tesla Motors' headquarters are located in Palo Alto, 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.The company opened a display showroom in New York City's Chelsea Art District in July 2009.[90] It also opened a store in Seattle in July 2009. Tesla subsequently opened stores in Washington, DC; New York City; Chicago; Dania Beach, Florida; Boulder, Colo.; and Orange County, California

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 US$100 million of the federal low-interest loans. The facility, a 369,000-square-foot (34,300 m2) facility on a 23-acre (93,000 m2) parcel previously occupied by Agilent Technologies. Tesla completed the headquarters move in February 2010. 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.

Tesla Factory

Using US$365 million in federal low-interest loans, Tesla had planned to build a Model S assembly plant in California with a fully ramped-up annual output of 20,000 sedans. Tesla did not announce a specific location, though unconfirmed media reports had focused on Southern California. In mid 2009, many speculative media reports suggested that Tesla could occupy the NUMMI assembly plant in Fremont, Calif., which General Motors and Toyota had signaled they planned to vacate.Tesla stated it would 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.

On 20 May 2010, Tesla announced that it would partner with Toyota to produce the Model S at the former NUMMI plant. The facility opened on October 27, 2010 as the Tesla Factory.


Tesla's European headquarters are in Maidenhead, UK. The Roadster's chassis is currently being assembled by the contract manufacturing division of Lotus Cars in Hethel, England. The Roadster has a unique chassis, with the car being longer and wider and having lower door sills than the Lotus Elise. The two cars have a parts overlap of less than 6 percent.

In June 2009, Tesla opened its first store in Europe—a showroom in central London's Knightsbridge district. 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. Tesla opened stores in Zurich, Copenhagen and Paris in mid 2010. Tesla opened a showroom in Milan's fashion district in December 2010.In addition to these regional stores and service centers, Tesla has sales representatives in the Netherlands, Oslo, Vienna, Hamburg and Madrid.

Regional sales and service centers
Tesla opened its showroom in Munich, Germany, in September 2009.
Tesla operates its own 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. In July 2010, Tesla hired former Apple and Gap Executive George Blankenship as Vice President of Design and Store Development to build Tesla's retail strategy and network of retail locations worldwide.

Tesla recommends that customers bring in their car for inspection and firmware updates every year or every 12,000 miles (19,000 km). 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. Transmission, brake, and cooling system fluid changes will be required roughly every five to seven years or as needed. Because there are no dripping fluids, Tesla is the only automaker to offer "house calls" in which mobile service technicians perform routine software upgrades or annual inspections.


Tesla builds and sells its own cars, but unlike many traditional manufacturers it also operates as an original equipment manufacturer, or OEM, manufacturing electric vehicle powertrain components that other automakers may purchase and retail under their own brand names. Tesla has confirmed partnerships with two other automakers, Daimler and Toyota. Tesla also works closely with Panasonic as a strategic partner in battery cell research and development. The company is supplying battery packs for Freightliner Trucks's Custom Chassis Electric Van.


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 US$50 million.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.

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. (In March 2009, Aabar purchased a 9 percent stake in Daimler for 1,95 billion EUR.)


On May 20, 2010, Tesla and Toyota announced a partnership to work on electric vehicle development, which included Toyota's US$50 million future conditional investmentin Tesla and Tesla's US$42 million purchase of a portion of the former NUMMI factory.Musk said the Model S sedan will be built at the plant, which is about 20 miles (32 km) east of the company's headquarters in Palo Alto, California. Tesla and Toyota also said that they intend to cooperate on the development of electric vehicles, parts, and production system and engineering support. It was announced that an electric version of the Toyota RAV4 would be mass produced in 2012.

Panasonic Energy Company President Naoto Noguchi presented Tesla CTO JB Straubel with the first production Lithium-ion cells manufactured at Panasonic's facility in Suminoe, Japan.

On January 7, 2010, Tesla and battery cell maker Panasonic announced that they would together develop nickel-based lithium-ion battery cells for electric vehicles. Naoto Noguchi, President of Panasonic’s Energy Company, said the Japanese firm’s cells will be used for Tesla’s “current and next-generation EV battery pack.”The partnership was part of Panasonic's US$1 billion investment over three years in facilities for lithium-ion cell research, development and production. Tesla disclosed that the new cell resulting from its collaboration with Panasonic will allow Tesla to continue using cells from multiple suppliers.

In April 2010, Panasonic Energy Company President Naoto Noguchi presented Tesla Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel with the first production Lithium-ion cells manufactured at the new facility in Suminoe, Japan. The Suminoe factory will start producing 3.1Ah battery cells, the highest energy density cells available in the market. The facility will produce more than 300 million cells per year.

On 5 November 2010, Panasonic invested US$30 million for multi-year collaboration on the development of next generation battery cells designed specifically for electric vehicles.


Like virtually all production cars, the Tesla Roadster uses parts from around the world. Tesla's powertrain, which is proprietary, is designed and built in California. Tesla Motors maintains relationships with dozens of suppliers for other parts of the car, including Tesla's carbon fiber body panels which are made in France by 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 Palo Alto, California, using battery cells from Japan. The single-speed gearbox is built by Michigan, USA-based supplier BorgWarner.

When the company began in 2003, Tesla licensed AC Propulsion's Reductive Charging patent, which integrates the charging electronics into the inverter in a way that reduces mass and complexity. Shortly after the company's founding, Tesla Motors developed a powertrain well beyond what the company initially licensed from AC Propulsion. The company no longer employs any of AC Propulsion's original intellectual property.


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.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.Tesla said the ruling was binding and would not pursue the case. 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.

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.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.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. 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. 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." In early August, Eberhard withdrew the case, 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. Eberhard also issued a statement about Musk's foundational role in the company: "As a co-founder of the company, Elon's contributions to Tesla have been extraordinary."

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. The problem originated at the Lotus assembly line, where the Roadster glider is built. Lotus also recalled some Lotus Elise and Exige vehicles for the same reason. Tesla reminded customers that millions of cars are recalled every year.

On Oct. 1, 2010, Tesla issued a second product safety recall in the USA affecting 439 Roadsters. The recall involved the 12v low voltage auxiliary cable from a redundant back up system (which in the unlikely event of the primary 12v power failing or dropping below a minimum threshold level, provides power to various systems; including the headlamps, tail lights, airbags, turn signals and hazard light.) Tesla decided to initiate a recall after an incident where the low voltage auxiliary cable in a vehicle chafed against the edge of a carbon fiber panel in the vehicle causing a short, smoke and a possible fire behind the right front headlamp of the vehicle. This issue was limited to the 12V low voltage auxiliary cable and did not involve the main battery pack or main power system.

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
* H.E. Ahmed Saif Al Darmaki—Planning & Development Director of Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority
* Brad W. Buss—Chief Financial Officer, Corporate Secretary and Executive Vice President of Finance and Administration at Cypress Semiconductor Corp.
* Ira Ehrenpreis - General Partner, Technology Partners
* Antonio J. Gracias - CEO and Chairman of the Investment Committee at Valor Equity Partners
* Steve Jurvetson—Managing Director, Draper Fisher Jurvetson.
* Herbert Kohler - Vice President E-Drive and Future Mobility at Daimler
* Kimbal Musk - CEO of Medium, Inc., Elon Musk's brother
* Larry W. Sonsini - Outside counsel and non-directing board member of Tesla; Chairman, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati


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