Tesla Headquarters in Palo Alto
|Headquarters||Palo Alto, California, United States|
|Total assets||US$12.59B (2016)|
|Total equity||US$2.68B (2016)|
|Owner||Elon Musk (22.25%)|
Number of employees
Footnotes / references|
Tesla Motors (often shortened to Tesla) is an American automaker and energy storage company co-founded by Elon Musk, Martin Eberhard, Marc Tarpenning, JB Straubel and Ian Wright, and is based in Palo Alto, California. The company specializes in electric cars and their powertrain components and also produces battery charging equipment.
Tesla first gained widespread attention following its production of the Tesla Roadster, the first electric sports car, in 2008. The company's second vehicle, the Model S, an electric luxury sedan, debuted in 2012 and is built at the Tesla Factory in California. In Q1 2013, Tesla released its stock profits for the first time from its NASDAQ ticker symbol. Global sales for the Model S passed the 100,000 units milestone in December 2015, three and a half years after its introduction, and it was the world's best-selling plug-in vehicle that year. As of June 2016, the Model S ranked as the world's all-time second-best-selling plug-in after the Nissan Leaf. The car was then followed by the Model X, a crossover SUV. Tesla's next vehicle is the Model 3, which was unveiled in March 2016 and is slated for release in 2017 with a price at US$35,000 before any government incentives.
As of September 2016, Tesla Motors has sold almost 164,000 electric cars worldwide since delivery of its first Tesla Roadster in 2008, making the electric carmaker the second largest global plug-in car manufacturer after the Renault-Nissan Alliance. Musk, the CEO, has said that he envisions Tesla Motors as an independent automaker, aimed at eventually offering electric cars at prices affordable to the average consumer.
Tesla has installed a network of high-powered Superchargers across North America, Europe and Asia for Tesla cars. The company also operates a Destination Charging program, under which shops, restaurants and other venues are offered fast chargers for their customers. Tesla builds the Gigafactory 1 near Reno, Nevada where Panasonic builds 21-70 cells for Tesla batteries. Tesla also manufactures the Tesla Powerwall and Powerpack batteries for home and industry.
Tesla Motors is named after electrical engineer and physicist Nikola Tesla. The Tesla Roadster uses an AC motor descended directly from Nikola Tesla's original 1882 design. The Roadster, the company's first vehicle, was 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. In December 2012, Tesla employed almost 3,000 full-time employees. By December 31, 2015, this number had grown to 13,058 employees, and to over 30,000 (of which 25,000 in US) after acquiring Grohmann and SolarCity in late 2016.
Tesla unveiled the Tesla Model S all-electric sedan on March 26, 2009, and began deliveries in June 2012. First deliveries of the Model X began in September 2015. Global sales of the Model S passed the 100,000 unit milestone in December 2015, three years and a half after its introduction. The Model 3, the company's first model aimed for the mass market, was unveiled in March 2016. A week after the unveiling, global reservations totaled 325,000 units, representing potential sales of over US$14 billion. As of June 2016, the Model S ranked as the world's all-time second-best-selling plug-in after the Nissan Leaf.
The beginnings - Roadster and private funding
Musk led the Series A round of investment in February 2004, joining Tesla's board of directors as its chairman as well as in 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. Tesla's early 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 for the mass market, serving "as a catalyst to accelerate the day of electric vehicles".
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.
Musk led Tesla Motors' Series B US$13 million investment round. Musk co-led the third, US$40 million round in May 2006. Tesla's third round included investment from prominent entrepreneurs including Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. The fourth round in May 2007 added another US$45 million and brought the total investments to over US$105 million through private financing.
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 became CEO and fired 25% of Tesla employees. Ze'ev Drori moved from President and CEO to 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. The prototype Model S was displayed at a press conference on March 26, 2009. 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 effect saving Tesla. Toyota provided a similar amount in 2010.
In June 2009 Tesla was approved to receive US$465 million in low-interest-bearing loans from the 2007 US$8 billion Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program by the United States Department of Energy, while Ford got $5.9 billion, and Nissan got $1.6 billion. The funding came in 2010, and supported engineering and production of the Model S sedan, as well as the development of commercial powertrain technology. Tesla repaid the loan early and with $12m in interest in May 2013 as the first of the automakers to repay.
IPO and Model S
On June 29, 2010, Tesla Motors launched its initial public offering (IPO) 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, and by 2014 Tesla had market value half that of Ford. Model S deliveries began in June 2012.
As of 2014, Tesla has a US Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) of 276 mpg.
Tesla makes its cars at the Tesla Factory in California. As a result of the high demand for Model 3, in May 2016 Tesla Motors announced its decision to advance its 500,000 annual unit build plan (combined for Model S, Model X, and Model 3) to 2018, two years earlier than previously planned, in order to accelerate its target for Model 3 output. This in turn can allow more Model 3 buyers to benefit from the $7,500 US tax credit before the limit of 200,000 electric vehicles per maker since 2010 reduces the credit.
The US authorities encourage production of non-polluting vehicles (electric or other) by legislating incentives for manufacturers, usually tax credits and ZEV credits from other manufacturers, and local authorities also try to attract new business with tax abatements. A financial watchdog group counts $2.4 billion in future incentives for Tesla, mostly Nevada tax credits (for Gigafactory 1) until the year 2034.
Tesla has financed operations (production, development, administration, etc.) partly by sales income, stock offering and bond sales. In May 2013 Tesla raised $1.02 billion ($660m from bonds) partially to repay the DOE loans after their first profitable quarter, in February 2014 $2 billion from bonds (building GigaFactory), in August 2015 $738 million in stock (for the Model X), and in May 2016 $1.46 billion in stock ($1.26 billion for the Model 3). Tesla has raised over $4.5 billion since the IPO in 2010. As of January 29, 2016, Musk owns about 28.9 million Tesla shares, which equates to about 22% of the company. Tesla states that its automotive branch has a gross margin of 23.1% as of 2Q2016. However, expenditures for future operation are bigger than product profit, resulting in a net loss.
Production and sales
Tesla deliveries vary significantly between months due to regional issues such as ship availability, registration and so on. Tesla does not follow the auto industry standard of monthly reporting. Some monthly sales are estimated by media.
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. The battery and electric drivetrain technology for each model would be developed and paid for through sales of the former models. The Roadster was low-volume, priced at US$109,000. Model S and X are mid-price and mid-volume; Model S had a base price of US$57,400. Model 3 is aimed at high-volume with a base price of US$35,000. This business strategy is very popular in the technology industry such as for cellular phones, laptop computers, and flat-screen televisions. 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."
Tesla Motor's high degree of vertical integration (80% in 2016 according to Goldman Sachs), which includes component production and proprietary charging infrastructure, is rare in the automotive industry, where companies typically outsource 80% of components to suppliers, and focus on engine manufacturing and vehicle assembly.
Some of Tesla's stated goals are to increase the number and variety of electric vehicles (EVs) 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 focuses on pure-electric propulsion technology, even for larger vehicles and ranges beyond 200 miles (320 km). Musk won the 2010 Automotive Executive of the Year Innovator Award for hastening the development of electric vehicles throughout the world.
Tesla aims to disrupt the automotive industry by bringing many innovative pieces which fit together to bring tremendous advantages; this strategy was called 'complex coordination' by Tesla investor Peter Thiel (see PayPal Mafia).
Arnnon Geshuri, the Vice President of Human Resources since November 2009, has committed to bringing manufacturing jobs "back to California". In 2015, Geshuri led a hiring spree for Tesla about which he said; "In the last 14 months we've had 1.5 million applications from around the world. People want to work here." Geshuri also emphasizes hiring military veterans, saying "Veterans are a great source of talent for Tesla, and we're going after it." The company is known for its outreach efforts to hire American military veterans.
On August 1, 2016, Tesla Motors Inc. publicly announced that it had agreed to acquire SolarCity Corp. for $2.6 billion in stock. SolarCity is the largest installer of rooftop solar systems in the United States. More than 85% of unaffiliated shareholders from Tesla and SolarCity voted to approve the acquisition on November 17, 2016, which was closed on the morning of November 21, 2016.
In August 2015, Tesla launched a revamp of its stores worldwide for the debut of its Model X. Stores will include interactive displays focused on four themes: safety, autopilot, charging network and the dual motors that power each axle.
US dealerships and automotive dealership disputes
|Map of direct automaker sales, regarding Tesla conditions|
There are stores and galleries—usually located in shopping malls—in 22 US states and Washington DC. Customers cannot buy vehicles from stores, only from the Tesla Motors website. The stores serve as showrooms that allow people to learn about the company and its vehicles. Some galleries are located in states with restrictive dealership protection laws which prevent discussing price, financing, and test drives, as well as other restrictions.
Tesla's strategy of direct customer sales and owning stores and service centers is different from the standard dealership model in the US vehicle marketplace. Tesla Motors is the only automaker that sells cars directly to consumers; all other automakers use independently owned dealerships (partly due to earlier conflict), although some automakers provide online configuration and financing. 48 states have laws that limit or ban manufacturers from selling vehicles directly to consumers, and although Tesla has no independent dealerships, dealership associations in multiple states have filed numerous lawsuits against Tesla Motors, to prevent the company from selling cars. North Carolina and New Hampshire sided with Tesla, while Virginia and Texas sided with dealers.
Countries other than US do not have such laws protecting car dealership. The Federal Trade Commission recommends allowing direct manufacturer sales, which analysts believe would save consumers 8% per purchase on average. The National Automobile Dealers Association states that franchises (such as offered by its members) offer better value for customers than direct sales.
Certified Pre-Owned program
Under a buyback program called Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) available in 37 US states, a Tesla Model S is sold with the right to return it to the company after three years for a reimbursement of 43% to 50% of its initial price. This reimbursement matches the trade-in values of German luxury cars of that age. In addition to maintaining a high resale value of its cars, Tesla Motors hopes to secure a supply of used cars to refurbish and re-sell with warranty. According to Automotive News, the profit margin on used car sales in the US is about triple that on new cars, and because Tesla sells directly to consumers, it would collect resale profits. In May 2015, Tesla started selling refurbished Model S in the US and within a month sold 1600 cars to buyers younger, less wealthy and a lower proportion of whom were from California than buyers of new Model S cars. As of July 2015, 269 used Model S were for sale in US Tesla stores, with a four-year, 50,000-mile warranty. Used 3 year old Model S sell for about 62% of their original price.
As of September 2015, similar programs existed in Canada (in 3 locations), Austria (3 locations), Belgium (3), Denmark (2), France (3), Germany (6), Britain (3), Netherlands (4), Norway (5), Sweden (2) and Switzerland (5). The program ended in some countries in July 2016, but continued in others.
Tesla Motors builds electric powertrain components for vehicles from other automakers, including the Smart ForTwo electric drive (the lowest-priced car from) Daimler), the Toyota RAV4 EV, and Freightliner's Custom Chassis Electric Van.
Unlike other automakers, Tesla does not use single-purpose, large battery cells, but thousands of small, cylindrical, lithium-ion 18650-like commodity cells used in laptops and other consumer electronics devices. It uses a version of these cells that is designed to be cheaper to manufacture and lighter than standard cells by removing some safety features. According to Tesla, these features are redundant because of the advanced thermal management system and an intumescent chemical in the battery to prevent fires. Panasonic is the only supplier of the battery cells for the car company, and cooperates with Tesla in the Gigafactory building the '21-70' cells.
Tesla Motors may have the lowest costs for electric car batteries, estimated at US$200 per kWh. Tesla indicated in 2016 that their battery pack costs less than $190/kWh. Argonne Labs estimates $163/kWh at 500,000 packs per year. Tesla charges US$400/kWh for the 85-kWh battery, US$10,000 more than the 60-kWh battery. At US$200/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, because supercharging is included in the higher price. Use of lifetime supercharging was a US$2,500 option for the early 40-kWh and 60-kWh versions of Model S.
Unlike the Tesla Roadster, whose battery is behind the seats, the Model S, 3 and X batteries are inside the floor. This saves interior space and trunk space but, together with the low ride of the Model S, increases risk of battery damage by debris or impact. To protect the battery, the Model S has 0.25 in (6 mm) aluminum-alloy armor plate. The battery's location allows quick battery swapping, which can take as little as 90 seconds in the Model S. Tesla's first and only battery swap station is located at Harris Ranch, California, and became operational in December 2014. Due to lack of customer interest, battery swapping will not expand. Straubel expects batteries to last 10–15 years, and discounts using electric cars to charge the grid (V2G) because battery wear outweighs economic benefit. He also prefers recycling over re-use for grid once batteries have reached the end of their useful car life, and an analyst agreed. Since 2008, Tesla has worked with ToxCo/Kinsbursky to recycle worn out RoHS batteries, which will be an integral part of GigaFactory.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced in June 2014, that the company will allow its technology patents be used by anyone in good faith. Post-2014 agreements were expected to be executed that would include provisions whereby the recipients agree not to file patent suits against Tesla, or to copy its 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 help to prevent direct copying of its vehicles.
AutoPilot provides semi-autonomous driver assist in all Tesla vehicles manufactured since late September 2014. These vehicles are equipped with a camera mounted at the top of the windshield, forward looking radar (supplied by Bosch) in the lower grill and ultrasonic acoustic location sensors in the front and rear bumpers that provide a 360-degree buffer zone around the car. This equipment allows vehicles to detect road signs, lane markings, obstacles and other vehicles. In addition to adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning, a US$2,500 "Tech Package" option allows this system to enable semi-autonomous drive (called Summon) and parking capabilities (called AutoPark). These features were activated via over-the-air software updates as of October 15, 2015. The AutoPilot system as of version 8 uses the radar as the primary sensor instead of the camera.
Starting October 2016, all Tesla cars are built with the necessary hardware to allow full self-driving capability at a safety level (SAE Level 5). The hardware includes eight surround cameras and twelve ultrasonic sensors, in addition to the forward-facing radar. The system will operate in "shadow mode" (processing without taking action) and send data back to Tesla to improve its abilities until the software is ready for deployment via over-the-air upgrades. Therefore, Tesla cars with the new hardware will not have automatic emergency braking, collision warning, lane holding and active cruise control initially; these will be activated after the features are validated over 2–3 months. After the required testing, Tesla expects to enable full self-driving by the end of 2017.
In November 2016, the company revealed that they have created a Tesla glass technology group. The group is developing the glass that will be used in the Solar City roof tiles that were announced in October 2016. The group will also develop and manufacture the roof glass for the Tesla Model 3.
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. 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."
As of 30 September 2016, Tesla Motors has sold almost 164,000 electric cars worldwide since delivery of its first Tesla Roadster in 2008, making the electric carmaker the second largest global plug-in car manufacturer after the Renault-Nissan Alliance. The top selling car of Tesla's line-up is the Model S, with global sales of 145,459 units between June 2012 and September 2016, followed by the Model X with 16,024 units sold between September 2015 and September 2016, and the Roadster with about 2,450 units sold globally through December 2012. Tesla's fourth vehicle, the Model 3, is aimed for the mass market and retail deliveries are scheduled to begin by late 2017.
In September 2016, combined sales of Tesla Motors models totaled over 13,000 units worldwide, setting the record as the best monthly plug-in sales volume on record ever, by any automaker of plug-in cars. In early October 2016 Tesla reported that combined miles driven by its three models have accumulated 3 billion electric miles (4.8 billion km) traveled. The first billion mark was recorded in June 2015 and the second billion in April 2016.
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 battery electric vehicle to travel more than 200 miles (320 km) per charge.
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. 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 U.S. was the leading market with about 1,800 Roadsters sold.
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 GB£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. Motor Trend 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."
The Model S was announced in a press release on June 30, 2008. Retail deliveries began in the US 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 made as scheduled in 2014. 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.
In April 2016, Tesla updated the design of the Model S to look more like the Model X and made Model S 70, 70D, 75, 75D, 90 and 90D versions available. 70 and 70D Model S owners have the option to unlock the 75 kWh capacity via a software update, adding up to 19 miles per charge. The 60 and 60D, reintroduced in June 2016, owners have a US$9,000 anytime option to unlock the full 75 kWh capacity via a software update.
A total of 2,650 Model S cars were sold in North America during 2012, mostly in the United States. In 2013, the Model S was the top-selling full-size luxury sedan in the U.S. During 2014, a total of 31,655 units were delivered worldwide, making the Model S the world's second best-selling plug-in electric vehicle after the Nissan Leaf in 2014. The Model S, with total global sales of 50,446 units in 2015, was the world's best selling plug-in electric vehicle in 2015. The Model S also ranked as the top selling plug-in electric car in the United States in 2015. The Model S continued to lead global plug-in car sales during the first nine months of 2016, and also remained as the top selling plug-in car in the U.S. during the first ten months of 2016.
The United States is the world's leading Model S market with an estimated 85,217 units sold through October 2016. Norway is the Model S largest overseas market, with 11,802 new units registered through October 2016. The Tesla Model S became the first electric car ever to top the monthly sales ranking in any country, when the electric car achieved the first place in the Norwegian new car sales list in September 2013.
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, 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).
More than a thousand people attended the 2012 unveiling, at which Musk said the car would enter production in 2013. 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. The company began taking reservations for the vehicle in 2013 and said that deliveries would begin in 2014.
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. However, Tesla announced in February 2014 that in order to focus on overseas roll outs of the Model S during 2014, it 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. In November 2014 Tesla again delayed the start of deliveries till the third quarter of 2015. In August 2015, user groups estimated around 30,000 X pre-orders, compared to 12,000 for the S.
Deliveries of the Model X Signature series began on September 29, 2015. Pricing for the premium special version of the Model X varies between US$132,000 and US$144,000. Model X sales totaled 2,400 units during the first quarter of 2016. According to Tesla Motors, deliveries were lower than expected because production was impacted by severe Model X supplier parts shortages in the first two months of 2016. Sales during the second quarter of 2016 totaled 4,638 units. Although Tesla's production was up 20% from the previous quarter, the number of vehicles in transit at the end of June 2016 was much higher than expected (5,150 including Model S cars), representing 35.8% of the number of cars delivered in the quarter (14,402 vehicles including the Model S). Global sales passed the 10,000 unit mark in August 2016, with most vehicles delivered in the United States. Global deliveries totaled 8,774 units during the third quarter of 2016. As of September 2016, a total of 16,024 units have been delivered worldwide. The United States is the main market with 13,536 units delivered through October 2016.
The Model X ranked as the top selling plug-in electric car in Norway in September 2016. However, when Volkswagen Golf nameplate registrations are broken down by each variant's powertrain, the all-electric e-Golf registered 392 units, the Golf GTE plug-in hybrid 358, and the internal combustion-powered Golf only 242 units. Therefore, the Model X also ranked as the top selling new car model in September 2016. Norway was the world's first country to have all-electric cars topping the new car sales monthly ranking. Previously, the Tesla Model S had been the top selling new car four times.
The Model 3 (stylized as "☰") was previously called the Model E, and was codenamed Tesla BlueStar in the original business plan. The current name was announced on Twitter on July 16, 2014. The all-electric car will have a range of at least 215 miles (350 km). First deliveries are expected in the US in late 2017 and full production in 2018.
On March 31, 2016, Tesla unveiled its Model 3 for an invited audience and via a live stream on Tesla's website. Potential customers were first able to reserve spots in the queue at Tesla stores on March 31 with a refundable deposit of US$1,000. Tens of thousands of people were reported waiting in lines to reserve their spot. During the Model 3 unveiling event, it was revealed that over 115,000 people had reserved the Model 3 prior to the event. As of April 7, 2016, one week after the unveiling, Tesla Motors reported over 325,000 reservations, more than triple the 107,000 Model S cars sold by the end of 2015. These reservations represent potential sales of over US$14 billion. According to Tesla's global vice-president Robin Ren, China is the second largest market for the Model 3 after the US. Tesla reported net reservations totaled about 373,000 as of 15 May 2016, after about 8,000 cancellations by customers and about 4,200 cancellations by Tesla of reservations that appeared to be duplicates from speculators.
Tesla Motors claims this is "the single biggest one-week launch of any product ever." According to Bloomberg News, "the Model 3's unveiling was unique in the 100-year history of the mass-market automobile." Bloomberg reported that while the 1955 Citroën DS took in 80,000 deposits over 10-days at the Paris Auto Show, the Model 3 took 232,000 reservations in two days. In another comparison, the original iPhone had 270,000 sales and reservations, also in two days.
During the event, Tesla Motors announced that the Model 3 will be priced starting at US$35,000 before any applicable government incentives. However, with options, CEO Elon Musk predicted that the average sales price will approach US$42,000. Musk also stated that all Model 3s will support supercharging. Tesla also announced plans to make Model 3 available in several new markets including India, Brazil, South Africa, South Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, and Ireland.
The company plans for the Model 3 are part of Tesla's three step strategy to start at high price and move progressively towards lower cost, where the battery and electric drivetrain technology would be developed and paid for through sales of the Tesla Roadster and Tesla Model S vehicles. Whereas the Roadster used carbon fiber and the Model S and X use aluminum for the body, the composition of the Model 3 is unknown as of March 2016. Some expect it to use steel (for cost reasons), while others (in connection with the Model 3) note that the Tesla factory in March 2016 has a new aluminum stamping press with a 10 to 20-fold increase in capacity. Musk has said that Tesla will need to sell 500,000 cars per year (mostly Model 3) to become profitable. According to Tesla's CTO, JB Straubel, in October 2015 most Tesla engineers were working on the 3 rather than S or X. The design was finished in July 2016.
Future Tesla Motors cars may enhance autonomous driving. In 2014, CEO Elon Musk predicted fully autonomous driving technology might be ready within 6 years, but "it will take several more years for governments to work out the industry guidelines for wide embrace of the innovation".
Other vehicle categories have been presaged. In June 2009, Tesla announced plans for electric minivans, crossover SUVs and electric fleet vans for municipal governments. In 2010, Tesla articulated ideas besides the Model X crossover: a utility van and cabriolet were discussed that, if built, would be based on the second-generation platform like Model S. Besides the third-generation platform to be used in Model 3, the possibility of a truck was discussed in 2012. In July 2015, it was announced that a successor to the Roadster would debut in 2019. In October 2015, Musk revealed a future 'Model Y' that would be a Model 3/Model X-like cheaper crossover utility vehicle with falcon-wing doors, and Tesla trademarked the name "Model Y" in 2013. Musk hopes to produce a car cheaper than the Model 3, to be affordable for everyone:
There will be future cars that will be even more affordable down the road . . . With fourth generation and smaller cars and what not, we’ll ultimately be in a position where everyone can afford the car.— Elon Musk at the Future Transport Solutions conference in Oslo, April 21, 2016
Musk wanted the first three models to spell S-E-X but settled with "S3X" since Ford owns the trademark to "Model E". However, the digit "3" will be stylized like three horizontal bars, making it indistinguishable from the "E" in Tesla's logo. After the Model Y is released, the four models will spell "S3XY".
Future models may also reach a 500-mile (800 km) range, partially because of a new patented battery system, pairing metal-air and lithium-ion batteries.
On July 20, 2016, Musk detailed his master plan for Tesla that has been in the works for 10 years. It includes the manufacturing of more affordable cars produced in higher volume, solar power roofs, mid-size vehicles, SUV's and pickup trucks, as well as the refinement of autonomous vehicles and the creation of a sharing economy, in which cars can be requested and driven while the owner is not using them. A Tesla Minibus would be built on the Model X platform.
In April 2015, the company unveiled its Powerwall home and industrial battery packs, and quickly received orders to a total value of US$800 million. The two models included a 7 kilowatt-hour (kWh) 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.
Some 62 megawatt-hours (MWh) of batteries and other energy-storage devices were installed in 2014 at 180 properties, at a value of about US$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.
In September 2016, Tesla announced it had been chosen "through a competitive process" to supply utility company Southern California Edison with 20 MW power (and 80 MWh energy) of battery storage. In May, regulators ordered Southern California Edison to invest in utility-scale battery networks after natural gas provider SoCal Gas leaked 1.6 million pounds of methane into the atmosphere when a well ruptured at its Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility.
In order to allow quick charging of Tesla cars, in 2012 Tesla Motors began building a network of 480-volt fast-charging Supercharger stations. As of 1 October 2016, there were 719 stations globally, with 4,428 chargers. The Supercharger is a proprietary direct current (DC) technology that provides up to 120 kW of power per car, depending on location, giving the 90 kWh Model S an additional 170 miles (270 km) of range in about 30 minutes charge and a full charge in around 75 minutes. A software update provided in 2015 to all Tesla cars uses demand information from each Supercharger station to plan the fastest route including stopping if charging will be necessary to reach the destination.
All Tesla cars come standard with the hardware required for Supercharging. Cars ordered after January 1, 2017 will get 400 kWh of free Supercharging credits (roughly 1,000 miles or 1,600 km) per year, with a charge for further kWh; cars purchased before that date will continue to get free Supercharging.
- Battery swapping
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. A survey in 2015 showed that most users were not interested, and only one facility (Harris Ranch) featured battery swapping as of 2016.
Destination Charging network
In 2014, Tesla discreetly launched the "Destination Charging Location" Network by providing High Powered Wall Chargers to high-end hotels, restaurants, shopping centres, resorts and other full service stations to provide on-site vehicle charging, twice the power of a typical charging location. In conjunction with the Supercharger Network, this new partnership allows Tesla's High Powered Wall Chargers to be where its customers spend the most time. On 25 April 2016, Tesla launched European destination charging, with 150 locations and more to be added later.
Tesla Motors' headquarters are located in Palo Alto, California. As of August 2013, Tesla operates over 50 company-owned showrooms worldwide. 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. He left the company in November 2013.
Tesla was founded in San Carlos, California. In 2007, Tesla opened an office in Rochester Hills, Michigan. The office was later closed due to mounting losses at the time, most of the remaining employees returned to California while some moved into a smaller office in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Tesla opened these retail stores initially: in Los Angeles, on Santa Monica Boulevard in the Westwood neighborhood in April 2008; in Menlo Park, California in July 2008; a display showroom in New York City's Chelsea art district in July 2009; and later stores in Washington, DC, Chicago, Dania Beach, Florida, Boulder, Colorado, Seattle, Washington, San Jose, California and Denver, Colorado. 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. It financed the project in part through US$100 million in federal low-interest loans. The new facility occupies 369,000 sq ft (34,300 m2) on a 23-acre (9.3 ha) parcel previously occupied by Agilent Technologies. About 350 employees were expected to be based at the Stanford site initially, potentially increasing to 650.
Tesla built its Model S assembly plant in California to a preliminary annual output of 20,000 sedans in 2010. It partnered with Toyota 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. In 2016 the plant was expected to produce some 80,000 cars with 6,000 workers compared to a "typical" plant that might produce 250,000 cars with 3,000 workers.
In June 2015, Tesla signed a lease to occupy a manufacturing building at 901 Page Avenue in Fremont, California. The building is more than 500,000 sq ft (46,500 m2) and was formerly used by Solyndra. The location is next to a SolarCity facility, a couple of miles from its existing car plant in Fremont.
In August 2014 the company announced it would establish (in conjunction with Panasonic) 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%. On September 4, 2014, Tesla announced that Nevada would be the site for the battery factory; as of September 10, the Nevada legislature was debating $1.3 billion of tax incentives for the factory. Two days later, state lawmakers unanimously approved the plan. The factory, near Reno, Nevada, was slated to start production in 2016.
In July 2016, Tesla doubled the labor force working on the factory in an attempt to finish construction on a new and much tighter schedule. The company would like to have the factory ready for the launch of its Model 3. About 1,000 workers are working up to seven days a week to meet Tesla's plan to produce lithium-ion battery cells by early 2017.
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. As of August 2015, there are seven Tesla stores/galleries in Canada: one in Montreal, one in Quebec City, one in Calgary, two in Toronto, and two in Vancouver.
Tesla opened its first store in Europe in June 2009 in London's Knightsbridge district in the United Kingdom, followed by Munich in Germany in September. The London store relocated to the Westfield London Shopping Centre in October 2013. Tesla has 24 "galleries" and stores around Europe by the start of 2014.
Tesla's European headquarters are in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The Roadster's chassis was assembled by Lotus Cars in Hethel, Norfolk, England. The 62,000 sq ft (5,800 m2) European distribution center and final assembly facility was established in 2013 in Tilburg in the Netherlands. Tesla's CEO confirmed in June its long-term plans to build a plant in Europe.
In November 2016 Tesla announced that they will acquire German engineering firm Grohmann Engineering and establish that as a new subdivision of the automaker dedicated to helping Tesla increase the automation and effectiveness of its manufacturing process. On this deal CEO Elon Musk said that "This will really be our first acquisition of significance in our whole history".
Tesla opened its first Japanese showroom in Aoyama on November 2010. Another showroom was subsequently opened in Osaka. Roadsters sold in Japan were either in left- or right-hand drive configurations, although Model S vehicles will only be available in right-hand drive configurations by 2014. According to Kevin Yu, the director of Tesla Motors Asia Pacific, Roadsters in Japan sell at an average price of between ¥12,800,000 (about ) and ¥20,000,000 (about ).
Tesla Motors established a Hong Kong branch and showroom in 2011. Roadsters were previously sold in Hong Kong for HK$1,200,000. The Hong Kong showroom consists of a "Design Studio" where prospective buyers can design their vehicle on a large touchscreen. The official Hong Kong service center opened in September 2011.
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. Without tax breaks, the Roadster retailed between S$400,000 and S$500,000 rather than the much lower price of S$250,000.
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.
Tesla Motors opened a showroom in Sydney in 2010. A Roadster was driven by Country Manager Jay McCormack along the entire eastern seaboard covering a distance of more than 2,500 miles (4,000 km), the longest distance traveled by an electric vehicle in Australia at the time.
Tesla Motors Australia opened its first Melbourne Store in Chadstone Shopping Centre in December 2014. 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 436 miles (702 km), the longest documented distance traveled by a Model S at the time in Australia.
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. It 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.
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 bought a stake of less than 10% in Tesla for a reported US$50 million. As part of the collaboration, Herbert Kohler, Vice President of E-Drive and Future Mobility at Daimler, took a seat on Tesla's board of directors. On July 13, 2009, Daimler AG sold 40% of its 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. In March 2009, Aabar bought a 9% stake in Daimler for €1,95 billion. In October 2014, Daimler sold its remaining holding.
Tesla, in collaboration with Mercedes-Benz, is building electric powertrain components for the Mercedes-Benz A-Class E-Cell, an electric car with a range of 200 km (124 mi) and 290 N·m (214 ft·lbf) of torque. The 36 kWh battery would contain approximately 4,000 lithium-ion cells. Daimler was not expected to release the electric version outside Europe. The model was unveiled at the 2010 Paris Motor Show. Only 500 cars would be built for trial in Europe beginning in September 2011.
Mercedes-Benz B-Class ED
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 in Tesla and Tesla's US$42 million purchase of a portion of the former NUMMI factory. 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.
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. 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. 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.
Freightliner Electric Van
The company is supplying battery packs for Freightliner Trucks' Custom Chassis electric van.
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." The partnership was part of Panasonic's US$1 billion investment over three years in facilities for lithium-ion cell research, development and production. Tesla disclosed that the new cell resulting from its collaboration with Panasonic will allow Tesla to continue using cells from multiple suppliers.
In April 2010, 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. On November 5, 2010, Panasonic invested US$30 million for a multi-year collaboration on next generation cells designed specifically for electric vehicles.
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.
In August 2015, Tesla partnered with Airbnb to provide destination chargers at certain host houses, initially in California.
Lawsuits and controversies
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". 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. Tesla said the ruling was binding and that it would not pursue the case.
The founding of the company was the subject of a lawsuit that was later dropped after an out-of-court settlement. On May 26, 2009, Eberhard filed suit in San Mateo County, California, against Tesla and Musk for slander, libel and breach of contract. 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. 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. Tesla said in a statement that the ruling is "consistent with Tesla's belief in a team of founders, including the company's current CEO and Product Architect Elon Musk, and Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel, who were both fundamental to the creation of Tesla from inception." In early August, Eberhard withdrew the case, and the parties reached a final settlement 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."
Tesla unsuccessfully sued British television show Top Gear for its 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 55 miles (89 km), 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. On October 19, 2011, the High Court in London rejected Tesla's libel claim. 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." The Top Gear website posted a favorable review of the Model S in 2015, and the show (with new hosts) featured the Model X favorably in 2016.
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. The dispute was resolved by an out of court settlement.
In early 2013, Tesla approached the New York Times to publish a story "Focused on future advancements in our Supercharger technology." 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.
After the story was published, Tesla stock dipped 3%. Three days later, CEO Elon Musk responded with a series of tweets, 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.
[...] 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.— Elon Musk, A Most Peculiar Test Drive – Tesla Blog
In a statement, the Times stood by the accuracy of the story, calling it "completely factual." 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.
[...] 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.— John Broder, That Tesla Data: What It Says and What It Doesn’t — The New York Times
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." 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." No legal action was pursued by either organization.
Website 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".
Electrical consumption of Tesla Model S 2014 variant
In early March 2016, a report by Stuff magazine revealed that test performed by VICOM, Ltd on behalf of Singapore's Land Transport Authority had found a 2014 Tesla Model S to be consuming 444 watt-hours per kilometre (0.715 kW·h/mi), which was greater than the 236 watt-hours per kilometre (0.38 kW·h/mi) reported by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the 181 watt-hours per kilometre (0.291 kW·h/mi) reported by Tesla. As a result, a carbon surcharge of S$15,000 (US$10,900 at March 2016 exchange rate) was imposed on the Model S, making Singapore the only country in the world to impose an environmental surcharge on a fully electric car. The Land Transport Authority justified this by stating that it had to "account for CO2 emissions during the electricity generation process" and therefore "a grid emission factor of 0.5g/watt-hour was also applied to the electric energy consumption", however Tesla Motors countered that when the energy used to extract, refine, and distribute gasoline was taken into account, the Model S produces approximately one-third the CO2 of an equivalent gasoline-powered vehicle.
Later that month, the Land Transport Authority released a statement stating that they and the VICOM Emission Test Laboratory will be working with Tesla engineers to determine if there was a flaw in the test, and a Tesla statement indicated that the discussions were "positive" and that they were confident of a quick resolution.
On July 11, 2016, the Wall Street Journal reported that Tesla is being investigated by the U.S. SEC to see if the company should have disclosed a fatal crash involving its autopilot technology before the company sold more than US$2 billion worth of new shares to investors in May 2016. A separate SEC investigation closed "without further action" in October 2016 about Tesla's use of non-GAAP reporting; Tesla switched to GAAP-reporting in October 2016. SEC and companies increasingly use GAAP over non-GAAP reporting.
SolarCity acquisition shareholder litigation
In September and October 2016, seven lawsuits were filed in the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware by stockholders of Tesla seeking to block the proposed acquisition of SolarCity. In October 2016, the Court consolidated the actions and appointed a lead plaintiff. The plaintiffs allege, among other things, that the Tesla board of directors breached their fiduciary duties in approving the acquisition and that certain individuals would be unjustly enriched by the acquisition. As of October 2016, the plaintiffs were seeking among other relief, damages in an unspecified amount and rescission of the acquisition. The acquisition was completed on November 17, 2016.
As of April 2016, Tesla has had three recalls for the Model S, two for the Roadster, and one for the Model X.
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. 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.
On October 1, 2010, Tesla issued a second product safety recall in the US 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.
On April 11, 2016, Tesla voluntarily recalled 2,700 Model X due to safety concerns. During collision testing, it was found that the third-row seats would unlatch and fold over to the second row. Tesla plans to fix this issue over the following five weeks and urged customers to avoid using the third row.
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." The car owner was able to exit the highway, stop and leave the vehicle without injury, as instructed by the onboard alert system. Tesla's share price lost about 12% within two days and decreased the company's market capitalization by about US$3 billion. However, the share price increased about 4.5% three days after the crash.
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.
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."
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, and as a result of these incidents, announced its decision to extend its current vehicle warranty to cover fire damage.
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. 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. 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. 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."
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. All Model S cars manufactured after March 6 have the .25-inch (6.4 mm) 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. 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. 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. 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."
On June 30, 2016, media reports surfaced that the driver of a Model S had died in a collision with a tractor-trailer on May 7, 2016, in Williston, Florida, while the vehicle was in autopilot mode. The driver, Joshua Brown of Canton, Ohio, is believed to be the first person to have died in a Tesla vehicle in autopilot mode. Many news outlets referred to this accident as involving a self-driving car but the Tesla Model S is not self-driving as explained by Sterling Anderson, director of Tesla's Autopilot program, at MIT Technology Review's EmTech Digital conference in San Francisco when he said: "Autopilot is not an autonomous system and should not be treated as one," said Anderson. "We ask drivers to keep their hands on [the wheel] and be prepared to take over." CNN reported internal disagreement inside Tesla regarding the pace of development.
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 (first installed 2012; only two are solar powered as of late 2014) and battery-swapping stations (first installed in 2013; none operational by 17 December 2014) are substantially behind.
On 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.
On September 19, 2016, Keen Security Lab demonstrated a remote attack on a Tesla Model S and controlled the vehicle in both Parking and Driving Mode without any physical access by compromising the CAN bus and connecting the vehicle to a malicious Wi-Fi hotspot.
In a blog post on their website, Keen Lab wrote:
"As far as we know, this is the first case of remote attack which compromises CAN Bus to achieve remote controls on Tesla cars. We have verified the attack vector on multiple varieties of Tesla Model S. It is reasonable to assume that other Tesla models are affected."
This was the first case of a Remote control exploit demonstrated on a Tesla.The company has already deployed an over-the-air software update that addresses these potential security issues and issued the following statement:
"Within just 10 days of receiving this report, Tesla has already deployed an over-the-air software update (v7.1, 2.36.31) that addresses the potential security issues. The issue demonstrated is only triggered when the web browser is used, and also required the car to be physically near to and connected to a malicious wifi hotspot. Our realistic estimate is that the risk to our customers was very low, but this did not stop us from responding quickly.
We engage with the security research community to test the security of our products so that we can fix potential vulnerabilities before they result in issues for our customers. We commend the research team behind today's demonstration and plan to reward them under our bug bounty program, which was set up to encourage this type of research. "
Tesla offers service at their service centers, or if a center is not available there are mobile technicians known as rangers that can perform most inspections and repairs. It is recommended to have any Tesla car inspected every 12,500 miles or once a year, whichever comes first. Early production is usually more flawed, and both the Model S and the Model X had several problems at the start of their production, but improved since then. As the Tesla vehicle fleet has grown, the amount of service centers has struggled to keep up while fixing the early flaws, resulting in waiting periods. Auto experts view the service delays as insignificant, as owners are more accepting of the challenges of making a new type of car production.
Board of directors
- Elon Musk—Chairman of the board of directors, CEO and Product Architect of Tesla; former President of PayPal, founder, CEO and CTO of SpaceX; Chairman of the board, SolarCity
- 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
- Battery electric vehicle
- List of electric cars currently available
- List of modern production plug-in electric vehicles
- List of production battery electric vehicles
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The SEC has judged the matter resolved without further action, according to an Oct. 12 letter the regulator sent to the company.
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When a car model is brand new or “completely redesigned,” that can mean new parts, new systems—and new problems.
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Despite such poor servicing of vehicles, Blue Book’s Karl Brauer believes that there has not been a big effect on the Tesla brand as early owners are not completely dependent on their Model S sedans and Model X SUVs. Dunne Automotive President, Michael Dunne, believes that the owners are well aware of such issues before buying a Tesla car as they know “they are part of this experience of the first breakthrough electric vehicles.”
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tesla Motors.|
- Tesla Motors – official site
- Tesla Motors – official Vimeo page
- Tesla 2016 Master Plan, Elon Musk, 20 July 2016.