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Tesla Motors

Tesla Motors, Inc.
Traded as
Industry Automotive, Renewable Energy Storage Systems
Founded 2003
Headquarters Palo Alto, California, U.S.
Key people
Revenue 11pxUS$3.198 billion (2014)[1]
11pxUS$−186.7 million (2014)
#redirect Template:If affirmed 11pxUS$−294.0 million (2014)
Total assets 11pxUS$5.849 billion (2014)
Total equity 11pxUS$911.7 million (2014)
Owner Elon Musk (27.9%)
Number of employees
10,000 (Nov 2014)[2]
Footnotes / references

Tesla Motors, Inc. is an American automotive and energy storage company[4] that designs, manufactures, and sells electric cars, electric vehicle powertrain components and battery products.[5] Tesla Motors is a public company that trades on the NASDAQ stock exchange under the symbol TSLA.[6] In the first quarter of 2013, Tesla posted profits for the first time in its history.[7]

Tesla first gained widespread attention following their production of the Tesla Roadster, the first fully electric sports car.[8] The company's second vehicle is the Model S, a fully electric luxury sedan, and its next two vehicles are the Models X and 3.[9] As of March 2015, Tesla Motors has delivered about 70,000 electric cars since 2008.[10]

Tesla also markets electric powertrain components, including lithium-ion battery packs to automakers including Daimler and Toyota.[11] Its CEO, Elon Musk, has said that he envisions Tesla Motors as an independent automaker,[12] aimed at eventually offering electric cars at prices affordable to the average consumer.[13][14] 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.[15][16] In 2015, Tesla announced the Powerwall, a battery product for home use.


Tesla Motors is named after electrical engineer and physicist Nikola Tesla.[17][18] The Tesla Roadster uses an AC motor descended directly from Tesla's original 1882 design.[19] 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 Script error: No such module "convert". per charge.[20] Between 2008 and March 2012, Tesla sold more than 2,250 Roadsters in 31 countries.[21][22][23] Tesla stopped taking orders for the Roadster in the U.S. market in August 2011.[24] Tesla unveiled the Tesla Model S all-electric sedan on March 26, 2009.[25] In December 2012, Tesla employed almost 3,000 full-time employees.[3][26] By January 2014, this number had grown to 6,000 employees.[27]


Tesla Motors was incorporated in July 2003 by Martin 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.[28][29] 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.[30]

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

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;[31] 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.[32] 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.[33] Musk received the Global Green 2006 product design award for his design of the Tesla Roadster, presented by Mikhail Gorbachev,[34] and he received the 2007 Index Design award for his design of the Tesla Roadster.[35]

File:Tesla Obelisk (2).jpg
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 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.[36] 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.[37] 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.[38] 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.[39][40]

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.[38][41] 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.[42] In July 2009, Daimler announced that Abu Dhabi's Aabar Investments bought 40% of Daimler's interest in Tesla.[43]

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 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.[44] 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.[45] 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.[46]

The company announced in early August 2009 that it had achieved overall corporate profitability for the month of July 2009.[47] 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.[48] 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).[49] 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,[50] when production ended,[dated info] mostly because of tooling changes orchestrated by one of its suppliers.[51] 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.[52]

In October 2014, both Daimler and Toyota sold their holdings of Tesla shares.[53][54]

2010 initial public offering

On January 29, 2010, Tesla Motors filed Form S-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission,[55] 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[56][57] to close immediately after the IPO.[58] Executives at both companies said that they would cooperate on "the development of electric vehicles, parts, and production system and engineering support."[57] 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.[59]

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 $17.00 per share.[60] The IPO raised US$226 million for the company.[61] It was the first American car maker to go public since the Ford Motor Company had its IPO in 1956,[62][dated info] and by 2014 Tesla had market value half that of Ford.[63] 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.[64] Despite the drop, Tesla was still the top performer on the Nasdaq 100 index in 2013.[65] Tesla is 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.[66] Tesla reduced its guidance on sales down to 33,000 units for 2014 in November 2014.[67]

Corporate strategy

Tesla'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.[68][69] 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.[30][70] 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.[33][71]

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.[72] 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."[73]

While the Roadster's base price was US$109,000,[74] the Model S's base price was US$57,400,[25][75] and the Model 3's projected base price is near US$35,000.[16]

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;[76]
  • selling powertrain components to other automakers[77][78]
  • serving as a catalyst and positive example to other automakers[79][80]

Tesla focuses on pure electric propulsion technology, even for larger vehicle segments and ranges beyond 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.[81]

Tesla would like to disrupt the automotive industry in a way that Tesla investor Peter Thiel (see PayPal Mafia) calls complex coordination,[82] which means many innovative pieces fit together in just the right way, and when assembled it has tremendous advantages:

Business model and US automotive dealership disputes

External images
16px Map of direct automaker sales, regarding Tesla conditions

Tesla operates stores or galleries[83][84]—usually located in shopping malls—in 22 U.S. states and Washington DC. Customers cannot purchase vehicles from the stores,[85][86][87] but must order them on the Tesla Motors website instead.[88] The stores act as showrooms that allow people to learn more about Tesla Motors and its vehicles. The galleries are located in states with more restrictive dealership protection laws, which prevent discussing prices, finances, and test drives, as well as other restrictions.

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.[89] Tesla Motors is the only automaker that sells cars directly to consumers, with all other automakers using independently owned dealerships[90][91] (partly due to an earlier conflict),[92][63] although some automakers provide online configuration and/or financing.[93][94][95] 48 states have laws that limit or ban manufacturers from selling vehicles directly to consumers,[96][97][98] 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.[99]

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,[100][101] which analysts believe would save 8%.[63][102] The National Automobile Dealers Association states that franchises offer better value for customers than direct sales.

Restrictive states


Texas currently has stringent dealership protection laws which make purchasing a vehicle from Tesla Motors in person, at a Tesla Gallery, difficult. Thus, all Texas orders are taken via the internet or over the phone. Texas requires all new cars to be purchased through third-party dealerships, effectively blocking Tesla from selling cars directly. A resident of Texas may still easily purchase a vehicle from Tesla Motors, but purchasing the vehicle is handled as an out-of-state transaction. This may result in the inability to include Texas state sales tax in the loan, and new owners cannot take advantage of the personal delivery of their new Tesla at their home or office, usually picking up their car at a Tesla Service Center in a neighboring state instead. New owners must then register the vehicle with the state and pay the sales tax when license tags are ordered. Tesla has lobbied the Texas Legislature to modify Texas law to allow Tesla to sell directly to consumers and specifically allow Tesla employees to discuss "financing, leasing, or purchasing options" at the firm's existing stores in Austin and Houston.[103] Texas is considering the situation.[104]

New Jersey

On Monday, March 10, 2014, it was announced that New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission and Governor Christie’s Administration would be holding a meeting to pass a new proposal into law. This new proposal, PRN 2013-138, was announced one day before it was to be put into law. Tesla Motors responded by saying that the proposal, "seeks to impose stringent licensing rules that would, among other things, require all new motor vehicles to be sold through middlemen and block Tesla’s direct sales model," and that "[Governor Christie’s] Administration has decided to go outside the legislative process by expediting a rule proposal that would completely change the law in New Jersey."[105] The meeting was for 2pm the next day. The law was passed, and "Tesla will no longer [be able to] sell electric cars in New Jersey, effective April 1". Diarmuid O’Connell Tesla Vice President of Business Development said, "Worse, it has done so without any reasonable notice or even a public hearing."[106] Forbes contributor Mark Rogosky said "The state’s new rules protect its auto dealers from having to compete with Tesla’s direct sales model," he goes on to point out that this is a direct contrast from when Christie said earlier that “We are for a free-market society that allows your effort and ingenuity to determine your success, not the cold, hard hand of the government.”[107] Kevin Roberts a spokesman for the Christie administration responded saying "it was the {Tesla Motors} company, not the governor's office, that was attempting to bypass normal procedures."[105] As of 2015, the New Jersey situation is undecided.[108]


On October 1, 2014. A Michigan House Bill 5606 to; "to keep automakers from forcing dealers to charge different documentation fees to different customers,"[109] was amended with a section stating that a manufacturer shall not "sell any new motor vehicle directly to a retail customer other than through its franchised dealers." The word "its" was removed, which assumed the manufacturer already had dealerships. Both houses passed the revised bill the next day. With only one vote from Tom McMillin, against it, in either house of the Michigan Legislature. Tesla argued that the original law would have allowed them to sell, because they didn't already have franchised dealers.[110] On Tuesday October 21, General Motors released a statement saying that governor Rick Snyder should sign the bill into law because. "We believe that House Bill 5606 will help ensure that all automotive manufacturers follow the same rules to operate in the State of Michigan." The same day governor Snyder signed the bill. Tesla responded to the GM statement by saying that "GM distorts the purpose of the franchise laws which are in place not to cement a monopoly for franchised dealers, but rather to prevent companies with existing franchises from unfairly competing against them."[111]


West Virginia does not allow Tesla-owned stores or showrooms.[112]

Permissive states

In September 2014 Massachusetts allowed Tesla to sell directly.[113]

Georgia, USA has legislation favorable to Tesla.[112][114]

In May 2015, the state of Maryland approved, through House Bill 235,[115] direct Tesla sales to consumers beginning in October 2015, allowing 4 stores. The legislation was crafted specifically for Tesla.[116][117]


Tesla 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 technology

File:Tesla Charge Station.jpg
Tesla Electric Car Recharging Station (USA, 2014)

Unlike other automakers, Tesla does not use single-purpose, larger format cells. Tesla uses thousands of lithium-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 unique 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.[118] 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.[118][119] Currently, Tesla Motors charges $10,000 more for the 85kWh battery than the 60kWh battery, or $400 per kWh. At $200 per kWh, the battery in the 60kWh Model S would cost $12,000, while the 85kWh battery would cost $17,000. The price increase is closer to $8,000, as supercharging is included in the higher price. It is a $2,000 option for the 60kWh 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 Script error: No such module "convert". aluminum-alloy armor plate.[120] The battery pack's location allows for quick battery swapping. A battery swap can take as little as 90 seconds in the Model S.[121] Tesla's first battery swap station is located at Harris Ranch, California, and is operational as of December 22, 2014.[122]

Technology sharing

File:The Tesla Patent Wall at HQ, now set free.jpg
The Tesla Patent Wall at its headquarters was removed after the company announced its patents are part of the open source movement.[123]

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced in a press release and conference call on June 12, 2014, that the company will allow its technology patents be used by anyone in good faith.[124] 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.[125] 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.[126]


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.[127] 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."[128]

Car models

Tesla Roadster

Main article: Tesla Roadster
File:Roadster Goodwood.JPG
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 first mass production BEV to travel more than Script error: No such module "convert". per charge.[129]

File:Roadster 2.5 windmills trimmed.jpg
Tesla Roadster Sport 2.5, the company's fourth-generation Roadster

Prototypes were introduced to the public in July 2006. 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.[130] The first "Signature One Hundred" set of fully equipped Roadsters sold out in less than three weeks,[131] the second hundred sold out by October 2007, and general production began on March 17, 2008.[132] Since February 2008 two new models were introduced, one in July 2009, and another in July 2010.[133][134][135]

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.[136] 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.[22][23] Tesla stopped taking orders for the Roadster in the U.S. market in August 2011.[137][138] Featuring new options and enhanced features, the 2012 Tesla Roadster was sold in limited numbers only in Europe, Asia and Australia.[139][140] The next generation is expected to be introduced in 2014, based on a shortened version of the platform developed for the Tesla Model S.[141] Tesla sold more than 2,400 Roadsters in 31 countries through September 2012.[142][143] Most of the remaining Roadsters were sold during the fourth quarter of 2012.[144]

The car had an average range of Script error: No such module "convert". per charge according to Tesla.[145] On October 27, 2009, the Roadster driven by Simon Hackett drove the entire Script error: No such module "convert". segment of Australia's annual Global Green Challenge on a single charge, at an average speed of Script error: No such module "convert"..[146][147] The Tesla Roadster can accelerate from zero to Script error: No such module "convert". in under 4 seconds and has a top speed of Script error: No such module "convert".. The base price of the car is US$109,000 (€84,000 or £87,945).[25] 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 @ Script error: No such module "convert"., and stated "Tesla is the first maker to crack the EV legitimacy barrier in a century."[148]

Model S

Main article: Tesla Model S

The Model S was announced in a press release on June 30, 2008.[149][150] The sedan was originally code-named "Whitestar".[151] Retail deliveries began in the U.S. on June 22, 2012.[152] The first delivery of a Model S to a retail customer in Europe took place on August 7, 2013.[153] Deliveries in China began on April 22, 2014.[154] First deliveries of the right-hand-drive model destined for the UK, Australia, Hong Kong and Japan were delivered as scheduled in 2014.[155] The Model S was to have three battery pack options for a range of up to Script error: No such module "convert". per charge,[156] but this was reduced to two, due to lack of demand for the shortest range vehicle.

File:Blue Tesla Model S Zoutelande dunes Holland.jpg
Tesla began production of its Tesla Model S sedan in 2012, and deliveries to retail customers began in June 2012.

A total of 2,650 Model S cars were sold in the North American market during 2012, mostly in the United States.[144] Sales in Europe and North America totaled 22,477 units in 2013.[157] During 2014 a total of 31,655 units were delivered worldwide,[158] and an additional 10,030 units were sold during the first quarter of 2015.[159] Global sales totaled 66,812 units by the end of March 2015.[158][159] North America is the largest market with an estimated 42,300 units sold through March 2015, with most units sold in the United States.[160] Norway is the Model S largest overseas market,[161] with 7,555 units sold through March 2015[162][163][164]

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.[165][166][167] 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.[168] 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.[169] Sales in the American market during 2013 totaled about 18,000 units,[170] allowing the Model S to rank in 2013 as the third top selling plug-in electric car in the U.S. after the Chevrolet Volt (23,094) and the Nissan Leaf (22,610).[171] 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).[170]

Tesla manufactures the Model S in 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,[172][173] and opened the facility in October 2010.[172][174][175] 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.[176] 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 Script error: No such module "convert".,[177] and Script error: No such module "convert". for the model with the 60 kW·h battery.[178]

Among other awards, the Model S won the 2013 "Motor Trend Car of the Year",[179] the 2013 "World Green Car",[180] Automobile Magazine's 2013 "Car of the Year",[181] and Time Magazine Best 25 Inventions of the Year 2012 award.[182]

On October 9, 2014, Tesla announced the 85D and P85D dual-motor all-wheel drive variants of the Model S.[183][184][185] The high-end P85D can accelerate from Script error: No such module "convert". in 3.2 seconds and has a top speed of Script error: No such module "convert"., compared to the Model P85's Script error: No such module "convert"..[184][185] The Model S 85D can cruise at Script error: No such module "convert". for Script error: No such module "convert". on a single charge, 10 miles more than the Model S 85.[186] The control system shifts power between the motors, so each is always operating at its most efficient point.[184]

On November 26, 2014 Tesla Motors announced the completion of upgrades to its Fremont, California factory. The factory shut down for two weeks in late summer to complete modifications to handle the addition of the all-wheel drive Dual Motor Model S. The upgrades will help the company raise production by 50 percent in 2015.[187]

On April 8, 2015 Tesla Motors announced a new 70D to replace the 60. The 70D includes the Supercharger option and is rated at Script error: No such module "convert". on a charge.[188]


Beginning with vehicles manufactured in late September 2014, all new Model S come equipped with a camera mounted at the top of the windshield, forward looking radar in the lower grill, and ultrasonic sonar sensors in the front and rear bumpers—providing a 360 degree buffer zone around the car. This equipment allows Model S to detect road signs, lane markings, obstacles, and other vehicles. In addition to adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning, this system will enable semi-autonomous drive and parking capabilities.[189][190] These features are not yet implemented, and are planned to be activated via future over-the-air software updates.

Model X

File:Tesla Model X Geneva 2012.jpg
Tesla Model X concept unveiled in Hawthorne, California
Main article: Tesla Model X

The Tesla Model X was unveiled at the company's design studios in Hawthorne, California February 9, 2012.[191] More than a thousand people attended the unveiling, at which Musk said the car would enter production in 2013.[192] In February 2013 Tesla announced that production had been rescheduled to begin by late 2014 in order to focus "on a commitment to bring profitability to the company in 2013" and to achieve their production target of 20,000 Model S cars in 2013.[193][194] The company began taking reservations for the vehicle in 2013 and said that deliveries would begin in 2014.[195][196]

In November 2013, Tesla confirmed the company expected to deliver the Model X in small numbers by end of 2014, with high volume production planned for the second quarter of 2015.[197] However, Tesla announced in February 2014 that in order to focus on overseas roll outs of the Model S during 2014, the company expected to have production design Model X prototypes in late 2014, and begin high-volume deliveries for retail customers in the second quarter of 2015.[198] In November 2014 Tesla delayed one more time the start of deliveries to retail customers, and announced the company expected Model X deliveries to begin in the third quarter of 2015.[199]

Model 3

The Model 3 (stylized as "Ξ")[200] was previously called the Model E, and was codenamed Tesla BlueStar in the original business plan;[70] its current name was announced on Twitter on July 16, 2014.[201] Tesla expects to unveil it in 2016.[202] The all-electric car will have a range of Script error: No such module "convert"., with first deliveries expected to begin by late 2017. However, according to Elon Musk, full production to fulfill expected demand could take up to 2020.[15] Tesla is aiming for a US$35,000 starting price before any government incentives.[16]

According to design chief Franz von Holzhausen, the Model 3 will "be an Audi A4, BMW 3-series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class type of vehicle that will offer everything: range, affordability, and performance with a starting price of US$30,000" that is targeted toward the mass-market.[203] While technology from Tesla's Model S will be incorporated into the Model 3,[204] it will have its own unique design.[205] According to Musk, the Model 3 will "be different, not just a smaller Model S."[205] Although the Model S is generally a standard looking car, the third generation vehicle will have a more distinctive style.[206]

The company plans for the Model 3 are part of Tesla's three step strategy, where the battery and electric drivetrain technology would be developed and paid for through sales of the Tesla Roadster and Tesla Model S vehicles.[30][70] It will be 20% smaller than the Model S.[71]

Future models

Future vehicles may further advance autonomous driving features. In 2014, Tesla Motors CEO, Elon Musk offered the following prognosis for autonomous driving technology: The ability for drivers to let their cars do the driving could be ready in a six-year time frame, but it will take several more years for governments to work out the industry guidelines for wide embrace of the innovation.[207]

Other vehicle types have been presaged. In June 2009, Tesla announced plans for electric minivans, crossover SUVs and electric fleet vans for municipal governments.[208][209] In addition to the Model X crossover, a utility van and cabriolet are expected to be based on the second generation platform shared with the Model S.[210] Other than the third generation platform to be first used by the Model 3, the possibility of a truck is under discussion.[211] Future models may also reach a Script error: No such module "convert". range because of a new patented battery system, pairing metal-air and lithium-ion batteries.[212]

Battery products

In April 2015, the company unveiled its Powerwall home and industrial battery packs,[213][214][215] and quickly received orders to a total value of $800 million.[216] The two models included a 7 kilowatt-hour wall-mounted unit and 10 kWh unit that cost less than the going rate for large-scale batteries for summer delivery. The company also announced larger-scale battery blocks for industrial users in units of 100 kWh. The company planned to open source its patents for the entire range. First battery customers include Green Mountain Power, which plans to resell them to customers that already have solar power.[213]

Battery cells will initially be made by Panasonic. When production shifts to Reno, Tesla expects costs to drop by 30%.[213]

Some 62 megawatts-hours (MWh) of batteries and other energy-storage devices were installed in 2014 at 180 properties, at a value of about $128 million, up 40% from the previous year, with sales expected to more than triple, to 220 MWh in 2015. In California, state rebates cover up to 60% of the battery price. Batteries that are connected to solar panels are also eligible for federal tax credits equal to 30% of the price.[213]


Tesla Motors' headquarters are located in Palo Alto, California. As of August 2013, Tesla operates over 50[217] company-owned showrooms worldwide.[218] 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.[219] He left the company in November 2013.[220]

United States

Tesla was founded in San Carlos, California, in Silicon Valley. Tesla opened its first retail store in Los Angeles, California on Santa Monica Blvd in the Westwood neighborhood,[221] in April 2008 and a second in Menlo Park, California, in July 2008.[222] The company opened a display showroom in New York City's Chelsea art district in July 2009.[223] It also opened a Seattle, Washington store in July 2009. Tesla subsequently opened stores in Washington, D.C.; New York City; Chicago; Dania Beach, Florida; Boulder, Colorado; Orange County, California; San Jose, California and Denver, Colorado.[76] In 2010 Tesla moved its corporate headquarters and opened a powertrain development facility at 3500 Deer Creek Road, in the Stanford Research Park in Palo Alto. Tesla financed the project in part through US$100 million of the federal low-interest loans. The new facility occupies Script error: No such module "convert". on a Script error: No such module "convert". parcel previously occupied by Agilent Technologies. About 350 employees were expected to be based at the Stanford site initially, potentially increasing to 650.[224] In August 2014 the company announced it, in conjunction with Panasonic, would establish a "gigafactory" battery manufacturing plant in the Southwest or Western United States by 2020. The US$5 billion plant would employ 6,500 people, and reduce Tesla's battery costs by 30 percent.[225] On September 4, 2014, Tesla announced that Nevada would be the site for the battery factory;[226] as of September 10, the Nevada legislature was debating $1.3 billion of incentives for the factory.[227] Two days later, state lawmakers unanimously approved the plan.[228]

The company is known for its outreach efforts to hire American military veterans.[229]

Tesla Factory

Main article: Tesla Factory

Tesla built its Model S assembly plant in California with a fully ramped-up annual output of 20,000 sedans.[230][231] Tesla partnered with Toyota[clarification needed] to produce the Model S at the former NUMMI plant in Fremont, California, which opened on October 27, 2010 and was renamed the Tesla Factory.[232]

Supercharger network

In 2012, Tesla Motors began building a network of 480-volt fast-charging Supercharger stations to facilitate longer distance journeys in the Model S. As of 11 May 2015, there are 425 stations operating globally,[233] with 203 in North America, 150 in Europe, and 76 in the Asia/Pacific region.[234]

The initial network was planned to be available in high-traffic corridors across North America, followed by networks in Europe and Asia in the second half of 2013. The first Supercharger corridor in the U.S. opened with free access in October 2012. This corridor included six stations placed along routes connecting San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas.[235][236] A second corridor was opened in December 2012 along the Northeast megalopolis, connecting Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston; it includes three stations located in highway rest areas, one in Delaware and two adjacent ones in Connecticut.[237]

File:Charging Tesla Model S 01.jpg
Tesla Model S charging at the Supercharger network station in Delaware

The Supercharger is a proprietary direct current (DC) fast-charging station that provides up to 135 kW of power, depending upon location, giving the 85 kWh Model S an additional Script error: No such module "convert". of range in about 20 minutes, or Script error: No such module "convert". of range in about 30 minutes. The electricity used by the Supercharger in the West Coast corridor comes from a solar carport system[clarification needed] provided by SolarCity.[citation needed] Eventually, all Supercharger stations are to be supplied by solar power. The network is exclusive to compatible Model S sedans. Supercharging hardware is standard on Model S vehicles equipped with an 85 kWh battery and optional (with a one-time payment of $2,000) on Model S vehicles equipped with a 60 kWh battery. The Roadster is not equipped to charge from the Superchargers, but according to the automaker, all future Tesla models will be.[235][236][237] According to Musk, “...we expect all of the United States to be covered by the end of next year [2013]”. He also said that Tesla owners’ use of the network would be free forever.[238]

The number of supercharger stations grew dramatically in 2013 and 2014—to 280 by the end of 2014—but the 2012 promise of net-energy-positive solar-powered supercharger stations has not been met. Only two of the supercharger stations built by December 2014 are solar powered.[239]

In early 2015, a supercharger in Køge, Denmark became the first European supercharger to be upgraded with a 'solar canopy' (a carport with solar cells on the roof).[240] According to the person responsible for Tesla's superchargers in the Nordic countries, Christian Marcus, the Køge supercharger has 300 m2 solar cells with a projected annual production of about 40 MWh and is or will be equipped with its own battery bank for temporary storage of excess production. Unlike other European supercharger stations, Tesla Motors has bought the land on which the Køge supercharger stands.[241]

By 2015, the European supercharger network is planned to allow a Model S to drive from the North Cape in Norway to Istanbul or Lisbon.[241]

Battery swapping

Main article: Tesla station
File:Tesla charging station with solar collector trimmed.jpeg
Panoramic view of Tesla Supercharger rapid charging station in Tejon Ranch, California

Tesla designed its Model S to allow fast battery swapping. This feature facilitated the assembly process at the factory, as well as future distributed battery swaps for cars during their operational life.[242]

In June 2013, Tesla announced a long-term goal to deploy a battery swapping station in each of its existing supercharger stations. Musk demonstrated a 90-second battery swap operation.[243][244][245] Each swapping station was projected to cost approximately US$500,000. Early plans called for each station to initially have about 50 batteries available and not require reservations. The service was to be offered for the price of about Script error: No such module "convert". of gasoline at the current local rate, around US$60 to US$80 at June 2013 prices. Owners can pick up their original battery pack fully charged on the return trip for the same price as the pack swap. Tesla also indicated it would offer the option to keep the pack received in the swap for the difference in price if the battery received is newer. Alternately, Tesla would return the original pack to the owner's location for a transport fee.[243] As of 17 December 2014, 18 months after the initial announcement, no battery swapping stations have yet opened to the public,[239] although October 2014 pronouncements by the company were that the first public battery swap station was scheduled to become operational in December 2014, located somewhere between San Francisco and Los Angeles.[246] On 19 December 2014, Tesla announced that they would initially build only a single battery-swapping station, and that they would institute a "Battery Swap Pilot Program" there to "assess demand." Only invited Model S owners may participate in the pilot battery swaps. "Tesla will evaluate relative demand from customers ... to assess whether it merits the engineering resources and investment necessary for that upgrade." [247]


Tesla Motors Store in Toronto

Tesla opened its first "new design" store in Canada on November 16, 2012 in the Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto, Ontario. The store features interactive displays and design studios which allow customers to customize the Model S and view the results on an 85-inch wall.[248] As of August 2014, there are five Tesla stores/galleries in Canada: one in Montreal, two in Toronto, and two in Vancouver.[249]


File:Tesla Munich store.jpg
Tesla showroom in Munich, Germany

Tesla opened its first store in Europe in June 2009 in London's Knightsbridge district,[250] followed by Munich in September.[251] The London dealer relocated to the Westfield London shopping centre in October 2013.[252] Tesla has 24 "galleries" and stores around Europe by the start of 2014. Tesla's European headquarters are in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.[253] The Roadster's chassis was assembled by Lotus Cars in Hethel, Norfolk, England.[254] The Script error: No such module "convert". European distribution centre and final assembly facility was established in 2013 in Tilburg in the Netherlands. Tesla CEO, confirmed in June its long-term plans to build a plant in Europe.[255] Slovakia is a contender, with the carmaker already involved in talks with the Slovak Agency for Development of Investments and Trade (SARIO).[256]


File:Tesla Tokyo 2011.JPG
Tesla Motor's Japanese showroom in Aoyama, which was the first showroom opened in the country

Tesla opened its first Japanese showroom in Aoyama on November 2010.[257] Another showroom was subsequently opened in Osaka.[258] Roadsters sold in Japan were either in left- or right-hand drive configurations,[259] although Model S vehicles will only be available in right-hand drive configurations by 2014.[258] According to Kevin Yu, the director of Tesla Motors Asia Pacific, Roadsters in Japan sell at an average price of between ¥12.8 million and ¥20 million.[260]

Tesla Motors established a Hong Kong branch and showroom in 2011.[261] Roadsters were previously sold in Hong Kong for HK$1.2 million.[262] The Hong Kong showroom consists of a "Design Studio" where prospective buyers can design their vehicle on a large touchscreen.[263] The official Hong Kong service center opened in September 2011.[264]

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.[265][266] Without tax breaks, the Roadster retailed between S$400,000 and S$500,000 rather than the much lower price of S$250,000.[266]

Tesla's Chinese website was launched on December 16, 2013 to sell the Model S and Model X and set a February 2014 date for the distribution of both vehicles in China. The launch followed the opening of a Tesla showroom in Beijing in November 2013.[267]


Tesla Motors opened a showroom in Sydney in 2010.[268][269] A Roadster was driven by Country Manager Jay McCormack along the entire eastern seaboard covering a distance of more than Script error: No such module "convert"., the longest distance traveled by an electric vehicle in Australia at the time.[270]

Tesla Motors Australia opened its first Melbourne Store in Chadstone Shopping Centre in December 2014.[271] A Signature Model S was driven by Shiny Things founder Mat Peterson from his home in Sydney to the Marriott Hotel in Melbourne, covering a distance of Script error: No such module "convert"., the longest documented distance traveled by a Model S at the time in Australia.[272]


Unlike many traditional manufacturers, Tesla operates as an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), manufacturing powertrain components for other automakers. Tesla has confirmed partnerships with Daimler and Toyota. Tesla also works closely with Panasonic as a partner in battery research and development. The company also supplies battery packs for Freightliner Trucks' Custom Chassis electric van.[273]

Daimler AG

Starting in late 2007, Daimler AG and Tesla began working together. The two companies were expected to collaborate further, including on the Tesla Model S sedan. On May 19, 2009, Daimler acquired an equity stake of less than 10% in Tesla for a reported US$50 million.[42][274] As part of the collaboration, Herbert Kohler, Vice President E-Drive and Future Mobility at Daimler, took a seat on Tesla’s board of directors.[275] 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 Abu Dhabi.[276][277] In March 2009, Aabar purchased a 9% stake in Daimler for €1,95 billion. In October 2014, Daimler sold their remaining holding.[278]

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

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 Script error: No such module "convert". and Script error: No such module "convert". of torque. The 36 kWh battery pack would contain approximately 4,000 individual lithium-ion cells.[280] 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.[281][282]

Mercedes-Benz B-Class ED

Smart Fortwo

Main article: Smart electric drive

In January 2009, Tesla announced that it would produce the battery packs and chargers for an initial 1,000-unit test fleet of Smart EVs.[283][dated info]


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[57] in Tesla and Tesla's US$42 million purchase of a portion of the former NUMMI factory.[172][174][284] Tesla cooperated 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 at Toyota's Woodstock, Ontario plant.[285]

Toyota RAV4 EV

Tesla Motors and Toyota announced in July 2010 an agreement to develop a second generation of the compact Toyota RAV4 EV. At the time, Toyota planned to introduce the model into the market by 2012.[286] 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 were supplied by Tesla Motors.[287][288] 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.[289][290]

Freightliner Electric Van

The company is supplying battery packs for Freightliner Trucks' Custom Chassis electric van.[273]


File:Tesla Panasonic.jpg
Panasonic Energy Company President Naoto Noguchi presented Tesla CTO JB Straubel with the first production run of lithium-ion cells from 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 that the Japanese firm’s cells will be used for Tesla’s “current and next-generation EV battery pack.”[291] 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.[292]

In April 2010, Noguchi presented Tesla Chief Technology Officer J. B. Straubel with the first production cells manufactured at the new facility in Suminoe, Japan. The Suminoe factory produced 3.1Ah battery cells, the highest energy density cells in the market. The facility produces more than 300 million cells per year.[293] On November 5, 2010, Panasonic invested US$30 million for a multi-year collaboration on next generation cells designed specifically for electric vehicles.[294]

In July 2014, it was announced that Panasonic has reached a basic agreement with Tesla Motors to participate in the Gigafactory, the huge battery plant that the American electric vehicle manufacturer is building in Nevada.[295]

Other suppliers

The Roadster sourced parts from multiple countries from dozens of suppliers, including carbon fiber body panels, which are made in France by Sotira. The panels were sent to England, where Tesla contracts with Lotus to build its chassis in Hethel. The cars were then sent to Menlo Park for final assembly. The battery pack is assembled in Palo Alto, California, using cells from Japan. The single-speed gearbox is manufactured in Michigan by USA-based supplier BorgWarner. When the company began in 2003, Tesla licensed AC Propulsion's Reductive Charging patent, which integrates charging electronics into the inverter for reduced mass and complexity. Later Tesla went its own way and no longer employs AC Propulsion's Reductive Charging feature.[73]

Mercedes, Wells Fargo, and Omnivision amongst other companies are amongst Tesla's top suppliers according to Spiderbook's Tesla suppliers list.[296]

Lawsuits and Controversies

Magna International

In March 2008, Magna International sued Tesla claiming that it was never paid for services rendered. Tesla had hired Magna to help design a 2-speed transmission for its Roadster.[297]

Fisker Automotive

On April 14, 2008, Tesla Motors sued 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 dropped the design that Musk considered "substandard".[298][299] On November 3, 2008, Fisker Automotive Inc. issued a press release indicating that an arbiter had issued an interim award finding in Fisker's favor on all claims.[300] Tesla said the ruling was binding and that it would not pursue the case.[300]

Founder dispute

The founding of the company was the subject of a lawsuit that was later dropped after an out-of-court settlement.[301][302] On May 26, 2009, Eberhard filed suit in San Mateo County, California, against Tesla and Musk for slander, libel and breach of contract.[303] 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 board of directors.[73] 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 company founders.[304] 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."[305] In early August, Eberhard withdrew the case,[306] and the parties reached a final settlement on September 21. One public provision stated 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."[307]

Top Gear

Tesla unsuccessfully sued British television show Top Gear for their review of the 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 Script error: No such module "convert"., before showing workers pushing it 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 was ready to drive. In addition, Tesla claimed that neither car ever dropped below 25% charge, and that the scene was staged.[308][309][310][311] On October 19, 2011, the High Court in London rejected Tesla's libel claim.[312] The falsehood claims were also struck out by February 2012, with Justice Tugendhat describing Tesla's malicious falsehood claim as "so 'gravely deficient' it too could not be allowed to proceed."[313] The Top Gear website posted a favorable review of the Model S in 2015.[314]


In early 2014, Tesla reportedly tried to break the exclusivity agreement their charging partner in the UK had for locations along the UK's highways; Ecotricity replied by taking an injunction against them.[315][316][dated info]

Cold Weather

In early 2013, Tesla approached the New York Times to publish a story "Focused on future advancements in our Supercharger technology."[317] In February 2013, the Times published an account on the newly installed Supercharger network on the I-95 highway between Boston and New York City. In it, the author describes fundamental flaws in the Model S sedan, primarily that the range was severely lowered in the below freezing temperatures of the American Northeast, and at one point the vehicle died completely and needed to be towed to a charging station.[318]

Tesla CEO Elon Musk responded immediately,[319] calling the article "fake," and followed up with a lengthy blog post disputing several of the claims of the original feature. He called it a "salacious story" and provided data, annotated screenshots, and maps obtained from recording equipment installed in the press vehicle as evidence that the New York Times fabricated much of the story.[317]

[...] Instead of plugging in the car, he drove in circles for over half a mile in a tiny, 100-space parking lot. When the Model S valiantly refused to die, he eventually plugged it in.

The author of the original piece John Broder quickly issued a rebuttal in which he clarified and refuted many of the accusations made by Musk.[320]

[...] I drove around the Milford service plaza in the dark looking for the Supercharger, which is not prominently marked. I was not trying to drain the battery. (It was already on reserve power.) As soon as I found the Supercharger, I plugged the car in.

Further investigation was made by the media. Musk claimed "the Model S battery never ran out of energy at any time, including when Broder called the flatbed truck." Auto blog Jalopnik contacted Rogers Automotive & Towing, the towing company Broder used. Their records showed that "the car's battery pack was completely drained."[321] In his follow-up blog post, Broder stated "The car’s display screen said the car was shutting down, and it did. The car did not have enough power to move, or even enough to release the electrically operated parking brake."

In the days that followed, NYT public editor Margaret Sullivan published an opinion piece titled "Problems With Precision and Judgment, but Not Integrity, in Tesla Test". She concludes "In the matter of the Tesla Model S and its now infamous test drive, there is still plenty to argue about and few conclusions that are unassailable."[322] No legal action was pursued by either entity.

Web site and Twitter account compromised

On 25 April 2015 the website of Tesla Motors was compromised and defaced. At about the same time also Tesla's Twitter account was momentarily compromised, both in an apparent "unsophisticated prank".[323][324]

Product issues


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.[325] The problem originated at the Lotus assembly line, where the Roadster glider was built. Lotus also recalled some Elise and Exige vehicles for the same reason.[326]

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. The recall followed an incident where the low voltage auxiliary cable in a vehicle chafed against the edge of a carbon fiber panel, causing a short, smoke, and a possible fire behind the right front headlamp. This issue was limited to the 12V low-voltage auxiliary cable and did not involve the main battery pack or main power system.[327]

Crashes and fires

On October 1, 2013 a Model S caught fire after the vehicle hit metal debris on a highway in Kent, Washington. A Tesla spokeswoman confirmed the fire began in the battery pack and 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."[328] The car owner was able to exit the highway, stop and leave the vehicle without injury, as instructed by the onboard alert system.[329] Tesla's share price lost about 12% within two days and decreased the company's market capitalization by about US$3 billion.[330] However, the share price increased about 4.5% three days after the crash.[331]

Tesla said that a curved section fell off a semi-trailer and impaled the vehicle with a peak force on the order of 25 tons, creating a three-inch hole through the quarter-inch armor plate under the vehicle. A fire began in the front battery module, one of 16 such modules, but was contained within the front section by internal firewalls. Battery pack vents directed the flames down toward the road and away from the vehicle, and the passenger compartment was undamaged.[329]

The company also said that conventional gasoline-powered cars were much more vulnerable to such a situation, because they have less underbody protection. It also noted that the battery pack holds only about 10% of the energy contained in a gasoline tank and is spread across 16 firewalled modules, meaning that the combustion potential is only about 1% as much. Elon Musk posted on his blog that, based on U.S. automobile miles-per-fire statistics from the National Fire Protection Association, a driver is "5 times more likely to experience a fire in a conventional gasoline car than a Tesla."[329]

On November 6, 2013, a Tesla Model S on Interstate 24 near Murfreesboro, Tennessee, caught fire after it struck a tow hitch on the roadway, causing damage beneath the vehicle. Tesla stated that it would conduct its own investigation,[332] and as a result of these incidents, announced its decision to extend its current vehicle warranty to cover fire damage.[333]

On November 18, 2013, Tesla released a software update to the air suspension system to increase the ground clearance at highway speeds and requested that the NHTSA conduct an investigation into the fire incidents.[334] On November 19, 2013, 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 were part of this initial investigation.[335][336] Another fire incident took place in Toronto, Canada, in early February 2014. The Model S was parked in a garage and it was not plugged in or charging when the fire started. As of February 14, 2014, the origin of the fire was still unknown.[337] According to Tesla
"In this particular case, we don’t yet know the precise cause, but have definitively determined that it did not originate in the battery, the charging system, the adapter or the electrical receptacle, as these components were untouched by the fire."[338]

On March 28, 2014, the NHTSA announced that it had closed the investigation into whether the Model S design was making the electric car prone to catch fire, after the automaker said it would provide more protection to its lithium-ion batteries.[339] All Model S cars manufactured after March 6 have the Script error: No such module "convert". aluminum shield over the battery pack replaced with a new three-layer shield designed to protect the battery and charging circuitry from being punctured even in very high speed impacts.[340] The new shielding features a hollow aluminum tube to deflect impacting objects, a titanium shield to protect sensitive components from puncture damage, and an aluminum extrusion to absorb impact energy.[341] The new shields, which decrease vehicle range by 0.1%, will be installed free-of-charge in existing Model S vehicles by request or during the next scheduled maintenance.[342] According to the NHTSA, the titanium underbody shield and aluminum deflector plates, along with increased ground clearance, "should reduce both the frequency of underbody strikes and the resultant fire risk."[339]


Tesla 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.[239]

Board of directors

As of 2014, the Tesla Motors board of directors consists of:[343]

See also


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