Tesla Motors, Inc. is an American automotive and energy storage company, that designs, manufactures, and sells electric cars, electric vehicle powertrain components, and battery products. Tesla Motors is a public company that trades on the NASDAQ stock exchange under the symbol TSLA. In the first quarter of 2013, Tesla posted profits for the first time in its history.
Tesla first gained widespread attention following their production of the Tesla Roadster, the first fully electric sports car. The company's second vehicle is the Model S, a fully electric luxury sedan, which was followed by the Model X, a crossover. Its next vehicle is the Model 3. Global cumulative Model S sales passed 90,000 units by October 2015.
Tesla also markets electric powertrain components, including lithium-ion battery packs to automakers including Daimler and Toyota. CEO Elon Musk has said that he envisions Tesla Motors as an independent automaker, aimed at eventually offering electric cars at prices affordable to the average consumer. Pricing for the Tesla Model 3 is expected to start at US$35,000 before any government incentives, and deliveries are expected to begin by 2017. In 2015, Tesla announced Tesla Energy, a suite of batteries for homes (Powerwall), businesses, and utilities (Powerpack).
- 1 Overview
- 2 History
- 3 Corporate strategy
- 4 Technology
- 5 Competition
- 6 Car models
- 7 Battery products
- 8 Facilities
- 9 Partners
- 10 Lawsuits and Controversies
- 11 Product issues
- 12 Board of directors
- 13 See also
- 14 References
- 15 External links
OverviewTesla 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. 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. Between 2008 and March 2012, Tesla sold more than 2,250 Roadsters in 31 countries. Tesla stopped taking orders for the Roadster in the U.S. market in August 2011. Tesla unveiled the Tesla Model S all-electric sedan on March 26, 2009. In December 2012, Tesla employed almost 3,000 full-time employees. By January 2014, this number had grown to 6,000 employees.
HistoryMartin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning who financed the company until the Series A round of funding. Both men played active roles in the company's early development prior to Elon Musk's involvement. Musk led the Series A round of investment in February 2004, joining Tesla's Board of Directors as its Chairman. Tesla's primary goal was to commercialize electric vehicles, 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.
Musk took an active role within the company and oversaw Roadster product design at a detailed level, but was not deeply involved in day-to-day business operations; Eberhard acknowledged that Musk was the person who insisted from the beginning on a carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer body and he led design of components ranging from the power electronics module to the headlamps and other styling. 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.
 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 that 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 CEO and President. In January 2008, Tesla 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% to lower its burn rate, which was out of control in 2007. In May 2008, The Truth About Cars launched a "Tesla Death Watch", as Tesla needed another round of finance to survive. In October 2008, Musk succeeded Drori as CEO. Drori became Vice Chairman, but then left the company in December. In December a fifth round added another US$40 million avoiding bankruptcy.
By January 2009, Tesla had raised US$187 million and delivered 147 cars. Musk had contributed US$70 million of his own money to the company. 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. In July 2009, Daimler announced that Abu Dhabi's Aabar Investments bought 40% of Daimler's interest in Tesla.
US$465 million in interest-bearing loans from the United States Department of Energy. The funding, part of the US$8 billion Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program, supports engineering and production of the Model S sedan, as well as the development of commercial powertrain technology. The low-interest loans are not related to the "bailout" funds that GM and Chrysler received, nor are they related to the 2009 economic stimulus package. The loan program was created in 2007 during the George W. Bush administration. Tesla repaid the loan in May 2013. Tesla was the first car company to have fully repaid the government, while Ford, Nissan and Fisker had not.
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. Daimler participated in the round to maintain equity ownership from its initial investment.
Tesla Motors signed a production contract on July 11, 2005, with Group Lotus to produce "gliders" (complete cars minus powertrain). The contract ran through March 2011, but the two automakers extended the deal to keep the electric Roadster in production through December 2011 with a minimum number of 2,400 units, when production ended,[dated info] mostly because of tooling changes orchestrated by one of its suppliers. 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.
In October 2014, both Daimler and Toyota sold their holdings of Tesla shares. As of 2014[update], Tesla has a Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) of 276 mpg.
In October 2015, Tesla Motor announced the company is negotiating with the Chinese government on producing cars domestically. Local production has the potential to reduce the sales prices of Tesla models by a third. However, foreign automakers are generally required to establish a joint venture with a Chinese company to produce cars domestically Elon Musk clarified that production will remain in the U.S. in the foreseeable future, but if there’s sufficient local demand for the Tesla Model 3 in China, a factory could be built in the country as soon as a year after the launch of the new model. Production in Europe will also depend on the region's demand for the Model 3.
2010 initial public offeringOn January 29, 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 (IPO) underwritten by Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, J. P. Morgan, and Deutsche Bank Securities. 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 the 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.
On June 29, 2010, Tesla Motors launched its initial public offering on NASDAQ. 13,300,000 shares of common stock were issued to the public at a price of US$17.00 per share. 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,[dated info] and by 2014 Tesla had market value half that of Ford. During November 2013, Tesla's stock fell more than 20 percent, following news of a third Model S fire. All Model S fires had developed several minutes after the cars had struck significant road debris at high speeds and all of the vehicles had provided warnings to the occupants of serious battery damage, advising that an immediate stop was required. All three owners ordered new Model S's. In the following months Tesla developed a battery protection system as a no-cost retrofit to all Model S's; no fires have been reported since. Despite the drop, Tesla was still the top performer on the Nasdaq 100 index in 2013. Tesla was seeking to sell 40,000 electric vehicles worldwide in 2014, adding China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Australia to the list of countries where it exports cars, but it later reduced its guidance on sales down to 33,000 units for 2014 in November 2014.
Corporate strategyTesla's strategy has been to emulate typical technological-product life cycles and initially enter the automotive market with an expensive, high-end product targeted at affluent buyers. As the company, its products, and consumer acceptance matured, it is moving into larger, more competitive markets at lower price points.
Tesla has a three step strategy, where the battery and electric drivetrain technology for each new type would be developed and paid for through sales of the former types, starting with Tesla Roadster and moving on to the Tesla Model S, Model X and Model 3 vehicles. Step one was making the Tesla Roadster high price, low volume. The Model S is step two with mid price, mid volume. The third generation will be low price, high volume.
Aiming premium products at affluent "thought leaders" is a very well-known business strategy in Silicon Valley and the global technology industry, where prices for the first versions of, for example, cellular phones, laptop computers, and flat-screen televisions start high but drop with subsequent products as the technology matures and production volumes increase. 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."
While the Roadster's base price was US$109,000, the Model S's base price was US$57,400, and the Model 3's projected base price is near US$35,000.
One of Tesla's stated goals is to increase the number and variety of electric vehicles (EV) available to mainstream consumers by:
- selling its own vehicles in company-owned showrooms and online;
- selling powertrain components to other automakers
- serving as a catalyst and positive example to other automakers
Tesla would like to disrupt the automotive industry in a way that Tesla investor Peter Thiel (see PayPal Mafia) calls complex coordination, which means many innovative pieces fit together in just the right way and when assembled has tremendous advantages.
Business model and US automotive dealership disputes
|Map of direct automaker sales, regarding Tesla conditions|
Tesla's strategy of direct customer sales and owning its own stores and service centers is a significant departure from the standard dealership model currently dominating the U.S. vehicle marketplace. Tesla Motors is the only automaker that sells cars directly to consumers, with all other automakers using independently owned dealerships (partly due to an earlier conflict), although some automakers provide online configuration and/or financing. 48 states have laws that limit or ban manufacturers from selling vehicles directly to consumers, and even though Tesla Motors has no independent dealerships, dealership associations in multiple states have filed numerous lawsuits against Tesla Motors, trying to block the company from selling cars in some states. North Carolina and New Hampshire sided with Tesla Motors while Virginia and Texas have taken the opposite position.
This situation is unique to Tesla Motors' US operations. Other countries do not have such regulatory laws dealing with car dealers and manufacturers. The Federal Trade Commission suggests allowing direct manufacturer sales, which analysts believe would save consumers an average of 8% on their car purchase. The National Automobile Dealers Association states that franchises offer better value for customers than direct sales.
In August 2015, Tesla launched a wholesale revamp of its stores worldwide as the company prepares to debut its Model X. The stores will include interactive displays focused on four major themes: safety, autopilot features, the company's charging network and the dual motors that power each axle.
- New Jersey
Permissive statesIn September 2014 Massachusetts allowed Tesla to sell directly. Georgia has legislation favorable to Tesla.
In May 2015, the state of Maryland approved, through House Bill 235, direct Tesla sales to consumers beginning in October 2015, allowing 4 stores. The legislation was crafted specifically for Tesla.
TechnologyTesla Motors builds electric powertrain components for vehicles from other automakers, including the lowest-priced car from Daimler, the Smart ForTwo electric drive, the Toyota RAV4 EV, and Freightliner's Custom Chassis Electric Van.
Battery technologylithium-ion 18650 commodity cells. 18650 cells are small, cylindrical battery cells, which are usually found in laptops and other consumer electronics devices. Tesla Motors uses a version of these cells, designed to be cheaper to manufacture and to be lighter than the standard cells. The cost and weight savings were made by removing some safety features which, according to Tesla Motors, are redundant because of the advanced thermal management system and a protective intumescent chemical in the battery pack. This chemical is intended to prevent battery fires. Currently Panasonic, a Tesla Motors investor, is the sole supplier of the battery cells for the car company.
Tesla Motors may have the lowest rates for electric car batteries; the estimated battery costs for Tesla Motors is around US$200 per kWh. Currently, Tesla Motors charges US$10,000 more for the 85 kWh battery than the 60 kWh battery, or US$400 per kWh. At US$200 per kWh, the battery in the 60 kWh Model S would cost US$12,000, while the 85 kWh battery would cost US$17,000. The price increase is closer to US$8,000, as supercharging is included in the higher price. It is a US$2,000 option for the 60 kWh version.
In the Model S, Tesla Motors integrated the battery pack into the floor of the vehicle, unlike in the Roadster, which had the battery pack behind the seats. Because the battery is integrated into the floor of the Model S, no interior space is lost for batteries, unlike in other electric vehicles, which often lose trunk space or interior space to batteries. The location of the battery pack and the lower ride of the Model S does put the battery at a higher risk of being damaged by road debris or an impact. To protect the battery pack, the Model S has 0.25 in (6 mm) aluminum-alloy armor plate. The battery pack's location allows for quick battery swapping. A battery swap can take as little as 90 seconds in the Model S. Tesla's first battery swap station is located at Harris Ranch, California, and is operational as of December 22, 2014. Since 2008, Tesla has worked with ToxCo/Kinsbursky to recycle worn out RoHS batteries, which will be an integral part of GigaFactory.
Technology sharingpatents be used by anyone in good faith. Future agreements to be made are expected to include provisions whereby the recipients agree not to file patent suits against Tesla, or to copy their designs directly. Reasons expressed for this stance include attracting and motivating talented employees, as well as to accelerate the mass market advancement of electric cars for sustainable transport. "The unfortunate reality is, electric car programs (or programs for any vehicle that doesn't burn hydrocarbons) at the major manufacturers are small to non-existent, constituting an average of far less than 1% of their total vehicle sales," Musk said. Tesla will still hold other intellectual property, such as trademarks and trade secrets, which would prevent direct copying of its vehicles.
CompetitionGeneral 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. 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."
Main article: Tesla Roadsterserial 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 first mass production BEV to travel more than 200 miles (320 km) per charge.
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 two new models were introduced, one in July 2009, and another in July 2010.
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 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. Tesla stopped taking orders for the Roadster in the U.S. market in August 2011. Featuring new options and enhanced features, the 2012 Tesla Roadster was sold in limited numbers only in Europe, Asia and Australia. The next generation is expected to be introduced in 2019, based on a shortened version of the platform developed for the Tesla Model S. Tesla sold more than 2,400 Roadsters in 31 countries through September 2012. Most of the remaining Roadsters were sold during the fourth quarter of 2012.
The car had an average range of 245 miles (394 km) per charge according to Tesla. On October 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). 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 £87,945). 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. MotorTrend reported that the Roadster Sport 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), and stated "Tesla is the first maker to crack the EV legitimacy barrier in a century."
Main article: Tesla Model Spress release on June 30, 2008. The sedan was originally code-named "Whitestar". Retail deliveries began in the U.S. on June 22, 2012. The first delivery of a Model S to a retail customer in Europe took place on August 7, 2013. Deliveries in China began on April 22, 2014. First deliveries of the right-hand-drive model destined for the UK, Australia, Hong Kong and Japan were delivered as scheduled in 2014. The Model S was to have three battery pack options for a range of up to 265 miles (426 km) per charge, but this was reduced to two, due to lack of demand for the shortest range vehicle. 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), and 208 mi (335 km) for the model with the 60 kW·h battery.
 Sales in Europe and North America totaled 22,477 units in 2013. During 2014 a total of 31,655 units were delivered worldwide, and about 33,151 units were sold worldwide during the first three quarters of 2015. The United States is the leading market with over 50,000 units sold by early July 2015. Norway is the Model S largest overseas market, with 8,697 new units registered through June 2015 As of September 2015[update], global Model S sales totaled 89,933 units since its introduction in June 2012, and sales are expected to pass 100,000 units globally by December 2015.
The Tesla Model S was the top selling new car in Norway in September 2013, thus becoming the first electric car to top the sales ranking in any country. The Model S captured a market share of 5.1% of all new car sales that month. In December 2013, and with a 4.9% market share, the Model S topped one more time the best selling new car list in Norway. In March 2014 Tesla Model S became the best-ever selling car for over a period of one month in Norway, with 10.8% of all new cars registered in the country in March 2014 were Tesla Model S. The Model S ranked as the third top selling plug-in electric car in the U.S. after the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf in 2013 and 2014. Also in 2013, the Model S was the top selling car in the full-size luxury sedan category in the U.S., ahead of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class (13,303), the top selling car in the category in 2012, and also surpassing the BMW 7 Series (10,932), Lexus LS (10,727), Audi A8 (6,300) and Porsche Panamera (5,421). The Model S ranked as the world's second best selling plug-in electric vehicle after the Nissan Leaf in 2014, and it ranked as the top selling plug-in electric car in the U.S. for the first nine months of 2015, with about 17,700 units delivered.
Fremont, California, in an assembly plant formerly operated by NUMMI, a defunct joint venture of Toyota and General Motors, now called Tesla Factory. Tesla purchased a stake in the site in May 2010 for US$42 million, and opened the facility in October 2010. For the European market, Tesla assembles and distributes the Model S from its European Distribution Center in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Tesla chose Tilburg because of its location near the port of Rotterdam, where Models S components arrive from the U.S. The center also serves as a workshop and spare parts warehouse. Cars are built and tested in Fremont. Then, the battery pack, the electric motor and parts are disassembled and shipped separately to Tilburg, where the cars are reassembled.
Among other awards, the Model S won the 2013 "Motor Trend Car of the Year", the 2013 "World Green Car", Automobile Magazine's 2013 "Car of the Year", and Time Magazine Best 25 Inventions of the Year 2012 award. In June 2015, three years after the Model S introduction and with almost 75,000 Model S sedans delivered worldwide, Tesla announced that Model S owners have accumulated over 1 billion electric miles (1.6 billion km) traveled. The Tesla Model S is the first plug-in electric vehicle fleet to reach the 1 billion electric miles milestone. In October 2014 General Motors reported that Volt owners had accumulated a total of 629 million all-electric miles (over 1 billion kilometers) traveled; while Nissan reported in December 2014 that Leaf owners had traveled 625 million miles (1 billion kilometers).
In October 2014, Tesla announced the 85D and P85D dual-motor all-wheel drive variants of the Model S. The high-end P85D can accelerate from 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) in 3.2 seconds and has a top speed of 155 miles per hour (249 km/h), compared to the Model P85's 130 miles per hour (210 km/h). The Model S 85D can cruise at 65 mph (105 km/h) for 295 miles (475 km) on a single charge, 10 miles more than the Model S 85. The control system shifts power between the motors, so each is always operating at its most efficient point.
DelaysTesla has been criticized for overpromising and underdelivering in a number of areas. Delivery dates for new vehicles and new vehicle features have slipped on the Roadster, the Model S and the Model X. Advanced technologies like the prospect of a large network of solar-powered supercharger stations (2012; only two are solar powered as of late 2014) and of a growing number of battery-swapping stations (2013; none operational by 17 December 2014) are substantially behind and auto-industry media sources have written about it.
HackingOn August 6, 2015, it was reported that two researchers claimed to be able to take control of a Tesla Model S by hacking into the car’s entertainment system. The hack required the researchers to first physically access the car. Tesla has issued a security update for the Model S after security researchers discovered six flaws that allowed them to control its entertainment software and hijack the vehicle.
Board of directorsAs of 2014[update], the Tesla Motors board of directors consists of:
- 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
- Brad Buss—CFO of 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.
- Harald Kroeger—Mercedes-Benz Vice President, responsible for electrics and electronics
- Kimbal Musk—CEO of Medium, Inc., Co-founder Zip2
- Robyn Denholm—Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President, Juniper Networks