Tesla Motors

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Tesla Motors, Inc.
Traded asNASDAQTSLA NASDAQcomponent 100 Component
Founder(s)Elon Musk
Martin Eberhard
Marc Tarpenning
JB Straubel
Ian Wright
HeadquartersPalo Alto, California, USA
Key peopleElon Musk
(Chairman and CEO)
JB Straubel
ProductsTesla Roadster
Tesla Model S
Tesla Model X
RevenueIncreaseUS$413.3 million (2012)
Operating incomeDecreaseUS$-394.3 million (2012)
Net incomeDecreaseUS$-396.2 million (2012)
Total assetsIncreaseUS$1,114.2 million (2012)
Total equityDecreaseUS$124.7 million (2012)
Owner(s)Toyota Group (10%)
Daimler AG (4.7%)
Employees2,964 full-time (Dec 2012)[1]
References: [2]
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Tesla Motors, Inc.
Traded asNASDAQTSLA NASDAQcomponent 100 Component
Founder(s)Elon Musk
Martin Eberhard
Marc Tarpenning
JB Straubel
Ian Wright
HeadquartersPalo Alto, California, USA
Key peopleElon Musk
(Chairman and CEO)
JB Straubel
ProductsTesla Roadster
Tesla Model S
Tesla Model X
RevenueIncreaseUS$413.3 million (2012)
Operating incomeDecreaseUS$-394.3 million (2012)
Net incomeDecreaseUS$-396.2 million (2012)
Total assetsIncreaseUS$1,114.2 million (2012)
Total equityDecreaseUS$124.7 million (2012)
Owner(s)Toyota Group (10%)
Daimler AG (4.7%)
Employees2,964 full-time (Dec 2012)[1]
References: [2]
New Tesla Model S cars at the Tesla Factory in 2012

Tesla Motors, Inc. is an American company that designs, manufactures and sells electric cars and electric vehicle powertrain components. Tesla Motors is a public company that trades on the NASDAQ stock exchange under the symbol TSLA.[3] After 10 years, Tesla posted profits for the first time during the first quarter of 2013.[4][5]

Tesla Motors gained widespread attention by producing the Tesla Roadster, the first fully electric sports car,[6] followed by the Model S, a fully electric luxury sedan.

Tesla also markets electric powertrain components, including lithium-ion battery packs, to automakers, including Daimler and Toyota.[7] Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk, has said he envisions Tesla as an independent automaker,[8] aimed at eventually mass-producing fully electric cars at a price affordable to the average consumer.


Tesla Motors is named after electrical engineer and physicist Nikola Tesla.[9] The Tesla Roadster uses an AC motor descended directly from Tesla's original 1882 design.[10]

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.[11] The Sport model accelerates 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 3.7 seconds and, according to Tesla Motor's environmental analysis, is twice as energy efficient as the Toyota Prius.[12] Between 2008 and March 2012, Tesla sold more than 2,250 Roadsters in 31 countries.[13] 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.[14][15][16] Tesla stopped taking orders for the Roadster in the U.S. market in August 2011.[17]

Tesla unveiled the Tesla Model S all-electric sedan on March 26, 2009 with an anticipated base price of US$57,400 before any government tax credit or subsidies.[18] The Model S was to have three battery pack options for a range of up to 265 miles (426 km) per charge,[19] but this was reduced to two, due to lack of demand for the shortest range vehicle. In October 2011, Tesla reached 6,500 reservations for the Model S[20] and retail deliveries began in June 2012.[21] The Model S is manufactured at the Tesla Factory in Fremont, California, an assembly plant formerly operated by NUMMI, a now defunct joint venture of Toyota and General Motors.[22] Tesla purchased a stake in the site in May 2010 for US$42 million,[23][24] and opened the facility in October 2010.

Tesla currently employs almost 3,000 full-time employees[2] and is 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.[25]

Corporate strategy and technology[edit]

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; by

Tesla claims its batteries cost 25–50% of what rival batteries cost, because Tesla uses common battery casings instead of custom-made batteries.[29]

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 plug-in hybrid sedan that aims to reverse years of dwindling market share and massive financial losses for America's largest automaker.[30] 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."[31] But in contrast to the resulting GM vehicle electrification strategy,[32] Tesla focuses on pure battery electric propulsion technology, even for larger vehicle segments and real-world ranges greater than 200 miles. Musk won the 2010 Automotive Executive of the Year Innovator Award for hastening the development of electric vehicles throughout the global automotive industry.[33]

The Tesla Roadster has a base price of US$109,000,[18] €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.[34] The company's subsequent car, the Model S sedan, began production for the 2012 model year with a base price of US$57,400 (or US$49,900[18][35] after a US federal tax credit), roughly half that of the Roadster.[36] The company then plans to launch a US$30,000 vehicle, codenamed BlueStar.[37] 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-Benz badge, the A-Class hatch back; and the lowest priced SUV from Toyota, the RAV4.[7]

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.[38] 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 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."[39]

Tesla also offers certified pre-owned cars with a 37 month, 37,000 miles (60,000 km), extended warranty. This warranty has the same coverage, including the battery, as the original warranty.[40]

Car models[edit]

Tesla Roadster[edit]

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

Tesla Motors' first production vehicle, the Tesla Roadster, was an all-electric sports car. The Roadster was the first highway-capable all-electric vehicle in serial production for sale in the United States in the modern era. The Roadster was also the first production automobile to use lithium-ion battery cells and the first production BEV (all-electric) to travel more than 200 miles (320 km) per charge.[41] 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.[42] The first "Signature One Hundred" set of fully equipped Roadsters sold out in less than three weeks,[43] the second hundred sold out by October 2007, and general production began on March 17, 2008.[44]

Tesla Roadster Sport 2.5, the company's fourth-generation Roadster

Since February 2008, when production first began, two new models were introduced, one in July 2009, and another in July 2010. Both new models featured various upgrades.[45][46][47] 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.[48] Tesla produced the Roadster until early 2012, when its supply of Lotus Elise gliders ran out, as its contract with Lotus Cars for 2,500 gliders expired at the end of 2011.[15][16] Tesla stopped taking orders for the Roadster in the U.S. market in August 2011.[49][50] Featuring new options and enhanced features, the 2012 Tesla Roadster was sold in limited numbers only in Europe, Asia and Australia.[51][52] The next generation is expected to be introduced in 2014 and will be based on a shortened version of the architecture developed for the Tesla Model S.[53] Since 2008 Tesla sold more than 2,400 Roadsters in 31 countries through September 2012. The remaining cars were available for sale only in Europe and Asia,[54][55] and most of the remaining Roadsters were sold during the fourth quarter of 2012[56]

The car had a range of 245 miles (394 km) per charge on average according to testing done by Tesla.[57] 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 25 mph (40 km/h).[58][59] The Tesla Roadster can accelerate from zero to 60 mph (97 km/h) in under 4 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).[18] The Roadster Sport price started at US$128,500 in the United States and €112,000 (excluding VAT) in Europe. Deliveries began in July 2009. The Roadster Sport was the first derivative of Tesla’s proprietary, patented powertrain.

The Roadster Sport has been acclaimed by Engineering Editor Kim Reynolds of MotorTrend, which recorded a 0–60 mph of 3.70 seconds and a quarter-mile test at 12.6 sec @ 102.6 mph (165.1 km/h). 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." [60]

Model S[edit]

Tesla began production of its Tesla Model S sedan in 2012, and deliveries to retail customers began in June 2012.

The Model S was announced in a press release on June 30, 2008.[61][62] The sedan was originally code-named "Whitestar." [63] Retail deliveries of the Model S in the U.S. began on June 22, 2012, at a special event held at the Tesla Factory in California.[21] The first delivery of a Model S to a retail customer in Europe took place in Oslo, Norway, on 7 August 2013.[64]

About 2,650 Model S cars were sold in the U.S. during 2012,[56] and 4,900 units during the first quarter of 2013, allowing the Model S to become the top selling plug-in electric car in North America during the first quarter of 2013, ahead of the Chevrolet Volt with 4,421 units, and the Nissan Leaf with 3,695.[4] Since its introduction, global cumulative sales reached 18,200 units through September 2013, including over 1,000 cars delivered in Europe.[65][66] Tesla increased its 2013 sales target to 21,000 units in April 2013,[4] and expects global sales of 30,000 units in 2014, with 15,000 units in the United States, 10,000 units in Europe and 5,000 in Asia.[67] Model S sales in Norway during September 2013 reached 616 units, making the Tesla Model S the top selling car in the country during this month, and becoming the first electric car to top the sales ranking in any country ever. The Model S captured a market share of 5.1% of all the new cars sold in the country that month, and contributed to a record 8.6% market share for all-electric vehicle sales in the Norwegian market during September.[68][69][70]

Tesla is building the Model S in Fremont, California, in an assembly plant formerly operated by NUMMI, a defunct joint venture of Toyota and General Motors, and now called Tesla Factory.[22][23][71] For the European market, Tesla is assembling and distributing the Model S from its European Distribution Center in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Tesla chose Tilburg as its assembly and distribution center because of its location near the port of Rotterdam, where Models S and its components arrive from the U.S. The center also serves as a workshop and spare parts warehouse. The Model S cars are built and tested in Fremont, California, and then, the battery pack, the electric motor and parts disassembled and shipped separately to Tilburg, where the cars are assembled back.[72] The United States Environmental Protection Agency range for the 85 kW·h battery pack model, the first trim launched in the United States market, is 265 mi (426 km),[73] and 208 mi (335 km) for the model with the 60 kW·h battery.[74] Among other awards, the Model S won the 2013 "Motor Trend Car of the Year",[75] the 2013 "World Green Car",[76] Automobile Magazine's 2013 "Car of the Year",[77] and Time Magazine Best 25 Inventions of the Year 2012 award.[78]

Tesla issued their first recall for a vehicle in June 2013 with an announcement that about 1,228 Model S sedans may have a problem with a seat latch mounting bracket. The company said that no customers had complained and that the flaw was discovered by routine testing.[79] In August 2013 the Model S received the highest safety rating by the NHTSA.[80][81][82]

Model X[edit]

Tesla Model X concept unveiled in Hawthorne California.

The Tesla Model X was unveiled at the company's design studios in Hawthorne in southern California February 9, 2012.[83] Over a thousand people were in attendance for the unveiling at which Musk said the car would enter production in 2013.[84] In February 2013 Tesla announced that production has been rescheduled to begin by late 2014 in order to focus "on a commitment to bring profitability to the company in 2013" and also to achieve their production target of 20,000 Model S cars in 2013.[85][86] The company began taking reservations for the vehicle in 2013 and says that deliveries will begin in 2014.[87][88]

Future models[edit]

Tesla Motors 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.[89][90] The utility van and cabriolet are expected to be based on the Tesla Model S platform, along with the Tesla Model X crossover SUV.[91] The company is also planning to introduce a Tesla model known as BlueStar or third-generation car that will "be an Audi A4, BMW 3-series, Volkswagen Jetta type of vehicle that will offer everything: range, affordability, and performance with a starting price of US$30,000" that is targeted towards the mass-market.[92] Other projects under discussion include an electric truck and a self-driving car.[93] Future models may also reach a 400 miles (640 km) range because of a new patented battery system, pairing metal-air and lithium-ion batteries.[94]

The BlueStar is projected to be a US$35,000US$40,000 car with a range of 200 miles (320 km) is expected to go on sale in 2016 [95] or 2017.[96]


Mercedes-Benz A-Class[edit]

The second generation[citation needed] Smart electric drive uses a battery pack developed by Tesla.

Tesla, in collaboration with Mercedes-Benz, is building electric powertrain components for the Mercedes-Benz A-Class E-Cell, an electric car with a range of 200 km (124 mi), and 290 N·m (214 ft·lbf) of torque. The 36 kWh battery pack would contain approximately 4,000 individual lithium-ion cells.[97] Daimler was not expected to lease the electric version outside of Europe. The Mercedes-Benz A-Class E-Cell was unveiled at the 2010 Paris Motor Show. Only 500 cars would be built for trial purposes in Europe beginning in September 2011.[98][99]

Smart Fortwo[edit]

In January 2009, Tesla announced that it would produce the battery packs and chargers for an initial 1,000-unit test fleet of EV Smarts.[100][dated info]

Toyota RAV4 EV[edit]

Tesla Motors and Toyota announced in July 2010 that the two companies had signed an agreement to initiate the development of a second generation of the compact Toyota RAV4 EV. At the time, Toyota planned to introduce the model into the market by 2012.[101]

A second generation RAV4 EV demonstrator was unveiled at the October 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show. Toyota built 35 of these converted RAV4s (Phase Zero vehicles) for a demonstration and evaluation program that ran through 2011. The lithium metal-oxide battery and other powertrain components are supplied by Tesla Motors.[102][103]

In August 2012, the production version RAV4 EV was unveiled; the battery pack, electronics and powertrain components are similar to those used in the Tesla Model S sedan launched in June 2012, and the Phase Zero vehicles used components from the Tesla Roadster.[104][105]

Freightliner Electric Van[edit]

The company is supplying battery packs for Freightliner Trucks' Custom Chassis Electric Van.[106]

History and financing[edit]

Tesla Motors was incorporated in July, 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, who financed the company until the Series A round of funding. Elon Musk led the Series A round of investment in February, 2004, joining Tesla's Board of Directors as its Chairman.

The insignia of Tesla Motors as seen on a Tesla Roadster Sport.

Since college,[107] Musk's primary goal was to commercialize electric vehicles all the way to mass market, starting with a premium sports car aimed at early adopters and then moving as rapidly as possible into more mainstream vehicles, including sedans and affordable compacts.[108]

Musk took an active role within the company and oversaw Roadster product design at a detailed level, but was not deeply involved in the day to day business operations;[109] 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.[110]

In addition to his daily operational roles, Musk was the controlling investor in Tesla from the first financing round, funding the large majority of the Series A capital investment round of US$7.5 million with personal funds.

From the beginning, Musk consistently maintained that Tesla's long-term strategic goal was to create affordable mass market electric vehicles in order to have a material impact on oil consumption.[111] Musk received the Global Green 2006 product design award for his design of the Tesla Roadster, presented by Mikhail Gorbachev,[112] and he received the 2007 Index Design award for his design of the Tesla Roadster.[113]

The Tesla obelisk is used to identify the Supercharger network sites in California.

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.[114] 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.[115] According to Musk, Tesla was forced to reduce the company workforce by about 10% to lower its burn rate, which was out of control in 2007.[116]

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.[117] 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.[116][118]

On May 19, 2009, Germany's Daimler AG, maker of Mercedes-Benz, acquired an equity stake of less than 10% of Tesla for a reported US$50 million.[119] In July 2009, Daimler announced that Abu Dhabi's Aabar Investments bought 40% of Daimler's interest in Tesla.[120]

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.[121] 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 W. 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.[122] Tesla repaid the loan to the U.S. government, in full, in May 2013. Tesla is the first car company to have fully repaid the government, while Ford, Nissan and Fisker have not.[123]

The company announced in early August 2009 that it had achieved overall corporate profitability for the month of July 2009.[124] 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.[125] Daimler participated in the round to maintain equity ownership from its initial investment.

Tesla Motors signed a production contract on 11 July 2005 with Group Lotus to produce "gliders" (complete cars minus electric powertrain) for Tesla.[126] Tesla Motors originally signed a production contract with Group Lotus good through March 2011, but the two automakers revealed they had extended the deal to keep the electric Roadster in production through December 2011 with a minimum number of 2,400 units,[127] when production is unlikely to continue[dated info] mostly because of tooling changes orchestrated by one of its suppliers.[128]

2010 initial public offering[edit]

On 29 January 2010, Tesla Motors filed Form S-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission,[129] as a preliminary prospectus indicating its intention to file an initial public offering (IPO) 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.[130] 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[131][132] to close immediately after Tesla's planned IPO.[133] Executives at both companies said that they would cooperate on "the development of electric vehicles, parts, and production system and engineering support."[132] 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.[134] 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.[135]

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.[136] It was the first American car maker to go public since the Ford Motor Company had its IPO in 1956.[137][dated info]

2013 Stock Price Drop[edit]

On November 6, 2013 after their third quarter financial disclosure, Tesla's stock price took a dramatic tumble. Although beating most estimates on their number of sales, their stock price dropped 10% overnight and continued on a downhill trend. On November 7, 2013 Tesla's stock continued to drop another 5% from its opening value. After dropping almost another 10% on November 18, it appears as if there may be some stability at a stock price of around $121.00, for the time being.[citation needed] The reasons for this drastic fall in Tesla's stock is inconclusive. Reasons given by market experts[according to whom?] vary with some worried about the cars' battery supply issues, others believe that the increase in R&D spending is the reason since it will hurt future earnings, or it could be because of recent fires that have developed from their Model S.[citation needed] Regardless, Tesla CEO Elon Musk stated that the company was overvalued but that they would eventually surpass their current valuation.


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

United States[edit]

Tesla was founded in San Carlos, California, in 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, CA, in July 2008.[138] The company opened a display showroom in New York City's Chelsea Art District in July 2009.[139] It also opened a store in Seattle in July 2009. Tesla subsequently opened stores in Washington, DC; New York City; Chicago; Dania Beach, FL; Boulder, Colorado; Orange County, CA; San Jose, CA and Denver, CO.[26]

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, California. Tesla said it would finance the project in part through US$100 million of the federal low-interest loans. The new facility would occupy 369,000 sq ft (34,300 m2) 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.[140]

Tesla Factory[edit]

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.[141] Tesla did not announce a specific location, though unconfirmed media reports had focused on Southern California.[142] In mid-2009, many speculative media reports suggested that Tesla could occupy the NUMMI assembly plant in Fremont, CA, 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 May 20, 2010, Tesla announced that it would partner with Toyota to produce the Model S at the former NUMMI plant.[22] The facility opened on October 27, 2010 as the Tesla Factory.[143]

Supercharger network[edit]

In 2012, Tesla Motors began building a network of 480-volt fast charging Supercharger stations in order to facilitate the Model S sedans to make long distance trips. As of June 2013, Tesla announced that all existing stations in the supercharger network, and all new stations, would become Tesla stations, and have facilities to support under-two-minute battery pack swaps for the Tesla Model S, and for all future Tesla models.

Tesla Model S charging at the Supercharger network station in Delaware.

The initial network is planned to be available in high traffic corridors across North America. The company also plans to deploy Supercharger networks in Europe and Asia in the second half of 2013. The first Supercharger corridor in the U.S. opened with free access for its Model S owners in October 2012. This corridor includes six stations placed along routes connecting San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.[144][145] A second corridor was opened in December 2012 along the Northeast megalopolis, connecting Washington, D.C., New York City, and Boston; it includes three stations located in highway rest areas in Delaware and Connecticut.[146][147]

The Supercharger is a proprietary DC rapid-charging station that provides almost 120 kW of power, giving the 85 kWh version of the Model S an additional 150 miles (240 km) of range in about 20 minutes, or 200 miles (320 km) of range in about 30 minutes (note that the Supercharger will not charge the battery fully in 1 hour due to limitations in lithium ion battery technology). The electricity used by the Supercharger in the West Coast corridor comes from a solar carport system provided by SolarCity, and eventually, all of the Supercharger stations will be supplied by solar power. The Tesla Supercharger network is exclusive to appropriately equipped Model S sedans, which are engineered to accept Tesla's specific form of rapid electricity transfer. Supercharging hardware is standard on Model S vehicles equipped with an 85 kWh battery and optional on Model S vehicles equipped with a 60 kWh battery. The Tesla Roadster is not equipped to charge from the Superchargers, but according to the automaker, all future Tesla models will be able to supercharge.[144][145][147] According to Elon Musk, “...we expect all of the United States to be covered by the end of next year [2013]” and he also said that Tesla owners’ use of the network would be free forever.[148]

Battery swapping[edit]

Panoramic view of Tesla Supercharger rapid charging station in Tejon Ranch, California.

Tesla designed its Model S to allow fast battery swapping, and this feature has facilitated the assembling process.[149] In June 2013, Tesla announced their goal to deploy a battery swapping station in each of its supercharging station or Tesla station. At an event at Tesla's Hawthorne Design Studio, CEO Elon Musk demonstrated a battery swap operation with the Model S, which took just over 90 seconds for the car participating in the demo. By contrast it took nearly four minutes to refill a gasoline-powered Audi used for comparison purposes during the event.[150][151][152]

The first stations are planned to be deployed along Interstate 5 in California where, according to Tesla, a large number of Model S sedans make the San Francisco-Los Angeles trip regularly. These will be followed by the Washington, DC to Boston corridor. Each swapping station will cost US$500,000 and will have about 50 batteries available without requiring reservations. The service would be offered for the price of about 15 US gallons (57 l; 12 imp gal) of gasoline at the current local rate, around US$60 to US$80 at June 2013 prices. Owners can pick up their battery pack fully charged on the return trip, which is included in the swap fee. Tesla will also offer the option to keep the pack received on the swap and paying the price difference if the battery received is newer; or to receive the original pack back from Tesla for a transport fee. Pricing has not been determined.[150]


Tesla opened its first "new design" store in Canada on November 16, 2012. The store is located in the Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto, Ontario. The store features interactive displays and design studios allowing customers to customize the Model S with the features to their liking, and then viewing it on an 85-inch wall in the back of the store.[153] This new innovative approach is paving the way for a more personal car buying experience. There is also talk about stores opening in Montreal and Vancouver and potentially in other major areas in Canada.


Tesla showroom in Munich, Germany.

Tesla's European headquarters are in Maidenhead, UK. The company had in 2012 sales outlets throughout North America and Europe. The European distribution center for the brand was established in 2013 in Tilburg. There is also an assembly plant, where the Tesla Roadsters for the European market were assembled in the early 2010s.[clarification needed]

European parts content of the Tesla Roadster[edit]

The Roadster's chassis was assembled by the contract manufacturing division of Lotus Cars in Hethel, England.[154]

The Tesla 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%.[155]


Tesla Motor's Japanese showroom in Aoyama, which was the first showroom opened in the country.

Tesla Motors made its push into the Asian market when it established its presence in Japan with the opening of its first showroom in Aoyama on November 2010.[156] Another showroom was subsequently opened in Osaka.[157] Roadsters sold in Japan were either in left- or right-hand drive configurations,[158] although Model S vehicles will only be in right-hand drive configurations by 2014, as current models are available in the left-hand drive configuration.[157] According to Kevin Yu, the director of Tesla Motors Asia Pacific, Roadsters are sold in Japanese showrooms at an average price of between ¥12.8 million and ¥20 million.[159]

Tesla Motors followed its push into the region with the establishment of a Hong Kong branch and showroom in 2011.[160] The Hong Kong showroom is the scheduled location for the inaugural launch of the Model S vehicle in the region.[161][162] Roadsters were previously sold in Hong Kong for HK$1.2 million.[163] The Hong Kong showroom consists of a "Design Studio" where prospective buyers can design their own vehicle on a large touchscreen.[164] The official Hong Kong service center was opened in September 2011 to further the Hong Kong government's aim to develop an environmental-friendly city for vehicles.[165]

A Tesla branch existed in Singapore from July 2010 to February 2011, but the company ceased its operations in the country due to a lack of tax exemptions from the Singaporean government.[166][167] Without tax breaks, the Roadster retailed between SGD$400,000 and SGD500,000 rather than the much lower price of SGD$250,000.[167] Tesla intended to introduce the Model S to Singaporean buyers if the company remained in the country.[166]

Tesla's Chinese website was launched on December 16, 2013 to sell the Model S and Model X electric vehicles. Tesla set a February 2014 date for the distribution of both vehicles in China and the site launch follows the opening of a Tesla showroom in Beijing in November 2013. Pre-orders are available on the site for pre-orders with a reservation fee of RMB250,000 (US$41,000), while each Model S will cost between US$146,000 and US$200,000 as a result of the high taxes enforced by the government on imports.[168] Tesla is seeking to sell 40,000 electric vehicles in China in 2014.[169]


Tesla Motors made its Australian debut in 2010 with a showroom in Sydney.[170][171] The retail cost of a Roadster in Australia was around A$206,188.[172] The price of the Roadster was then brought down to A$191,888 to favorable exchange between the American and Australian dollars.[173] The Model S will also be made available to Australia with a retail price of A$120,000.[173] Later reports suggested a retail price between A$85,000 through to A$130,000 due to a lack of tax break incentives by the Australian government.[174]

As parts of its marketing promotion, a Roadster was present in a public exhibition at Circular Quay's First Fleet Park.[175] It was also driven by the Company's Country Manager, Jay McCormack along the entire eastern seaboard covering a distance of more than 2,500 miles (4,000 km), the longest distance traveled by an electric vehicle in Australia.[176]

Regional sales and service centers[edit]

As of August 2013, Tesla operates over 50[177] company-owned showrooms worldwide, saying it models its showrooms on those of retailers such as Apple and Starbucks.[178] 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.[179]

Tesla opened its first store in Europe in June 2009 in central London's Knightsbridge district,[180] followed by Munich in September. Tesla opened a store in Monaco in November 2009 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony by Musk and car enthusiast Prince Albert II.[181] Tesla opened stores in Zurich, Copenhagen, Paris and Milan during 2010,[182] and a store at Yorkdale Mall in Toronto in 2012. In addition to these regional stores and service centers, Tesla has sales representatives in the Netherlands, Oslo, Vienna, Hamburg and Madrid.


Tesla builds and sells its own cars, but unlike many traditional manufacturers it also operates as an original equipment manufacturer (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 partner in battery cell research and development. The company is supplying battery packs for Freightliner Trucks's Custom Chassis Electric Van.[106]


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-Benz vehicles in Tesla showrooms, or vice-versa.

On May 19, 2009, Germany's Daimler AG, maker of Mercedes-Benz, acquired an equity stake of less than 10% in Tesla for a reported US$50 million.[119][183] 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.[184]

On July 13, 2009, Daimler AG sold 40% 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.[185][186] In March 2009, Aabar purchased a 9% stake in Daimler for €1,95 billion.


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 investment[132] in Tesla and Tesla's US$42 million purchase of a portion of the former NUMMI factory.[22][23] 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.[187] 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. The jointly developed RAV4 electric vehicle will be built at Toyota's Woodstock, Ontario plant.[188]


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.”[189] 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.[190]

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.[191]

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.[192]


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 Tesla's proprietary components. The battery pack is assembled in Palo Alto, California, using battery cells from Japan. The single-speed gearbox is built in Michigan by 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.[39]

Selling cars without dealers[edit]

Tesla is currently[when?] selling cars from 16 stores in 12 U.S. states with each of these being company stores, a significant departure from the norms of the U.S. marketplace. (Most cars are sold from independently-owned stores.) This has had a mixed reception; manufacturer-owned dealerships are not legal in all states. North Carolina and New Hampshire in June 2013 sided with Tesla in allowing stores owned and operated by an automaker, but Virginia and Texas have taken the opposite position.[193] CEO Musk is advocating that the Texas Legislature should modify the existing Texas law to allow Tesla to sell directly to consumers without a dealer network, and specifically modify the law that restricts Tesla employees from discussing "financing, leasing, or purchasing options" at the firm's existing stores in Austin and Houston.[194]


Fisker Automotive[edit]

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 Musk.[195][196] On November 3, 2008, Fisker Automotive Inc. issued a press release indicating that an arbiter has issued an interim award finding in favor of Fisker Automotive, Inc. and against Tesla Motors Inc. on all claims.[197] Tesla said the ruling was binding and would not pursue the case.[197]

Magna International[edit]

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.[198]

Founder dispute[edit]

Jeffrey B. Straubel

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.[199][200] On May 26, 2009, Eberhard filed suit in San Mateo County, California, against Tesla and Musk (Chairman and CEO of Tesla) for slander, libel and breach of contract.[201] Musk wrote a lengthy blog post that included original source documents, including emails between senior executives and other artifacts demonstrating that Eberhard was unanimously fired by Tesla's full board of directors.[39] On July 29, 2009, a judge in San Mateo County, California, Superior Court struck down a claim by former CEO Eberhard, who asked to be declared one of only two founders of the company.[202] 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."[203] In early August, Eberhard withdrew the case,[204] and the parties reached a final settlement on September 21. Some provisions are confidential, but the agreement includes a provision that the parties will consider Eberhard, Musk, Straubel, Tarpenning, and 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."[205]

Top Gear[edit]

Tesla unsuccessfully sued British television show Top Gear for their review of the Tesla Roadster in a 2008 episode in which Jeremy Clarkson could be seen driving one around the Top Gear test track, complaining about a range of only 55 miles (89 km) before showing that car being pushed into the garage, supposedly out of charge. Tesla filed a lawsuit against the BBC for libel and malicious falsehood, claiming that two cars were provided and that at any point, at least one of them was ready to drive. In addition, Tesla believes that neither car ever dropped below 25% charge, and that the scene was staged.[206][207][208][209] On October 19, 2011, the High Court in London rejected Tesla's libel claim.[210] The falsehood claims were also struck out by February 2012, with Mr. Justice Tugendhat describing Tesla's malicious falsehood claim as "so 'gravely deficient' it too could not be allowed to proceed." [211]


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 wording from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, Tesla told customers that without this adjustment, the driver could lose control of the car.[212] The problem originated at the Lotus assembly line, where the Roadster glider is built. Lotus also recalled some Elise and Exige vehicles for the same reason.[213] Tesla reminded customers that millions of cars are recalled every year.[214][215]

On October 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 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.[216]

Crash and fire[edit]

On October 1, 2013 a Tesla S model caught fire after the vehicle hit metal debris on a highway in Kent, Washington state. A Tesla spokeswoman confirmed the fire began in the battery pack and it was caused by the “direct impact of a large metallic object to one of the 16 modules within the Model S battery pack.” The company spokeswoman said that, “Because each module within the battery pack is, by design, isolated by fire barriers to limit any potential damage, the fire in the battery pack was contained to a small section in the front of the vehicle.”[217] Tesla also explained that the car owner "was able to exit the highway as instructed by the onboard alert system, bring the car to a stop and depart the vehicle without injury."[218] Tesla's share price lost about 12% within two days and decreased the stock value by about US$3 billion.[219] However, the share price increased about 4.5% three days after the crash.[220]

Tesla's CEO Elon Musk issued an official statement on October 4, 2013. The statement explained that the culprit appears to be a curved section that fell off a semi-trailer which was recovered from the roadway near where the accident occurred. "The geometry of the object caused a powerful lever action as it went under the car, punching upward and impaling the Model S with a peak force on the order of 25 tons. Only a force of this magnitude would be strong enough to punch a 3 inch diameter hole through the quarter inch armor plate protecting the base of the vehicle." After the driver exited the car, "a fire caused by the impact began in the front battery module – the battery pack has a total of 16 modules – but was contained to the front section of the car by internal firewalls within the pack. Vents built into the battery pack directed the flames down towards the road and away from the vehicle" and the statement noted that "at no point did fire enter the passenger compartment."[218]

Musk closed the official statement explaining that the result of this accident could have been "far worse" had a conventional gasoline-powered car encountered the same object on the highway, because the "typical gasoline car only has a thin metal sheet protecting the underbody, leaving it vulnerable to destruction of the fuel supply lines or fuel tank, which causes a pool of gasoline to form and often burn the entire car to the ground." He also noted that Tesla's battery pack "is only about 10% of the energy contained in a gasoline tank and is divided into 16 modules with firewalls in between. As a consequence, the effective combustion potential is only about 1% that of the fuel in a comparable gasoline sedan." And based on U.S. statistics from the National Fire Protection Association, he claimed that a driver is "5 times more likely to experience a fire in a conventional gasoline car than a Tesla.[218] Due to the U.S federal government shutdown, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not opened an investigation of the incident.[221] It is not known whether or not the NHTSA will open a special investigation as it did with the Chevrolet Volt fire incident in 2011.[222]

A second reported fire occurred on October 18, 2013 in Merida, Mexico. In this case the vehicle was being driven at high speed through a roundabout and crashed through a wall and into a tree. The NHTSA did not investigate this incident because it occurred outside the U.S.[223] On November 6, 2013, a Tesla Model S being driven on Interstate 24 near Murfreesboro, Tennessee, caught fire after it struck a tow hitch on the roadway, causing damage beneath the vehicle. Tesla Motors stated that it would conduct its own investigation,[223] and as a result of these incidents, Tesla Motors announced its decision to extend its current vehicle warranty to cover fire damage and to apply a software update on Model S cars to increase the ground clearance of the Model S when driving at highway speed.[224]

On November 19, 2013, and based on the two fire incidents occurring in U.S. public highways, the NHTSA opened a preliminary evaluation to determine "the potential risks associated with undercarriage strikes on model year 2013 Tesla Model S vehicles." An estimated population of 13,108 Model S cars are part of this initial investigation.[225][226]

Board of directors[edit]

The Tesla Motors Board of Directors, as of 2013, consists of:[citation needed]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]