TESLA Motors Industry

“Tesla electric car” redirects here. It is not to be confused with Nikola Tesla electric car hoax.
Tesla Motors
Type
Public company
Traded as
  • NASDAQ: TSLA
  • NASDAQ-100 Component
Industry Automotive, Renewable Energy Storage Systems
Founded 2003; 13 years ago
Founders
  • Martin Eberhard
  • Marc Tarpenning
  • Elon Musk
  • JB Straubel
  • Ian Wright
Headquarters Palo Alto, California, U.S.
37.394178°N 122.149866°WCoordinates:  37.394178°N 122.149866°W
Key people
  • Elon Musk (chairman and CEO)
  • JB Straubel (CTO)
  • Jason Wheeler (CFO)
  • Jay Vijayan (CIO)
Products
  • Electric luxury cars
  • Automotive components
  • Rechargeable energy storage systems
Revenue IncreaseUS$5.29 billion (2015)
Operating income
DecreaseUS$-186.7 million (2014)
Net income
DecreaseUS$-294.0 million (2014)
Total assets IncreaseUS$8.092 billion (2015)
Total equity IncreaseUS$1.284 billion (2015)
Owner Elon Musk (22.25%)
Number of employees
12,000 (June 2015)
Website teslamotors.com

tesla.com

Footnotes / references

Tesla Motors Financial Performance

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

Tesla first gained widespread attention following their production of the Tesla Roadster, the first fully electric sports car.The company’s second vehicle is the Model S, a fully electric luxury sedan, which was followed by the Model X, a crossover. Its next vehicle is the Model 3. Global Model S sales passed the 100,000 unit milestone in December 2015, three and a half years after its introduction. The Model S was the world’s best selling plug-in electric vehicle in 2015. As of December 2015, the Model S ranks as the world’s second best selling plug-in car in history after the Nissan Leaf. Tesla manufactures equipment for home and office battery charging, and has installed a network of high-powered Superchargers across North America, Europe and Asia. The company also operates a Destination Charging program, under which shops, restaurants and other venues are offered fast chargers for their customers.

CEO Elon Musk has said that he envisions Tesla Motors as an independent automaker, aimed at eventually offering electric cars at prices affordable to the average consumer. Pricing for the Tesla Model 3 is expected to start atUS$35,000 before any government incentives, and deliveries are expected to begin by 2017. In 2015, Tesla announced Tesla Energy, a suite of batteries for homes (Powerwall), businesses, and utilities (Powerpack).

 Overview:

Tesla Motors is named after electrical engineer and physicist Nikola Tesla The Tesla Roadster uses an AC motor descended directly from Tesla’s original 1882 design.The Tesla Roadster, the company’s first vehicle, is the first production automobile to use lithium-ion battery cells and the first production EV with a range greater than 200 miles (320 km) per charge. Between 2008 and March 2012, Tesla sold more than 2,250 Roadsters in 31 countries. Tesla stopped taking orders for the Roadster in the U.S. market in August 2011. Tesla unveiled the Tesla Model S all-electric sedan on March 26, 2009. In December 2012, Tesla employed almost 3,000 full-time employees.By January 2014, this number had grown to 6,000 employees.

History:

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.Musk led the Series A round of investment in February 2004, joining Tesla’s board of directors as its chairman. Tesla’s primary goal was to commercialize electric vehicles, starting with a premium sports car aimed at early adopters and then moving as rapidly as possible into more mainstream vehicles, including sedans and affordable compacts.

Musk took an active role within the company and oversaw Roadster product design at a detailed level, but was not deeply involved in day-to-day business operations; Eberhard acknowledged that Musk was the person who insisted from the beginning on a carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer body and he led design of components ranging from the power electronics module to the headlamps and other styling. In addition to his daily operational roles, Musk was the controlling investor in Tesla from the first financing round, funding the large majority of the Series A capital investment round of US$7.5 million with personal funds.

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

From the beginning, Musk consistently maintained that Tesla’s long-term strategic goal was to create affordable mass market electric vehicles. Musk received the Global Green 2006 product design award for his design of the Tesla Roadster, presented by Mikhail Gorbachev, and he received the 2007 Index Design award for his design of the Tesla Roadster.

Musk’s Series A round included Compass Technology Partners and SDL Ventures, as well as many private investors. Musk later led Tesla Motors’ Series B, US$13 million, investment round that added Valor Equity Partners to the funding team. Musk co-led the third,US$40 million round in May 2006 along with Technology Partners. Tesla’s third round included investment from prominent entrepreneurs including Google co-founders Sergey Brin & Larry Page, former eBay President Jeff Skoll, Hyatt heir Nick Pritzker and added the VC firmsDraper Fisher Jurvetson, Capricorn Management and The Bay Area Equity Fund managed by JPMorgan Chase. The fourth round in May 2007 added another US$45 million and brought the total investments to over US$105 million through private financing.

In December 2007, Ze’ev Drori became CEO and President. In January 2008, Tesla fired several key personnel who had been involved from the inception after a performance review by the new CEO. According to Musk, Tesla was forced to reduce the company workforce by about 10% to lower its burn rate, which was out of control in 2007. In May 2008, The Truth About Cars launched a “Tesla Death Watch”, as Tesla needed another round of finance to survive. In October 2008, Musk succeeded Drori as CEO. Drori became vice-chairman, but then left the company in December. In December a fifth round added another US$40 million avoiding bankruptcy.

By January 2009, Tesla had raised US$187 million and delivered 147 cars. Musk had contributed US$70 million of his own money to the company. On May 19, 2009, Germany’s Daimler AG, maker of Mercedes-Benz, acquired an equity stake of less than 10% of Tesla for a reported US$50 million. In July 2009, Daimler announced that Abu Dhabi’s Aabar Investments bought 40% of Daimler’s interest in Tesla.

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

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. The low-interest loans are not related to the “bailout” funds that GM and Chrysler received, nor are they related to the 2009 economic stimulus package. The loan program was created in 2007 during the George W. Bush administration. Tesla repaid the loan in May 2013. Tesla was the first car company to have fully repaid the government, while Ford, Nissan and Fisker had not.

The company announced in early August 2009 that it had achieved overall corporate profitability for the month of July 2009. The company said it earned approximately US$1 million on revenue of US$20 million. Profitability arose primarily from improved gross margin on the 2010 Roadster, the second iteration of Tesla’s award-winning sports car. Tesla, which like all automakers records revenue when products are delivered, shipped a record 109 vehicles in July and reported a surge in new Roadster purchases. In September 2009, Tesla announced an US$82.5 million round to accelerate Tesla’s retail expansion. Daimler participated in the round to maintain equity ownership from its initial investment.

Tesla Motors signed a production contract on July 11, 2005, with Group Lotus to produce “gliders” (complete cars minus powertrain). The contract ran through March 2011, but the two automakers extended the deal to keep the electric Roadster in production through December 2011 with a minimum number of 2,400 units, when production ended, mostly because of tooling changes orchestrated by one of its suppliers. In June 2010, it was reported that Tesla sold a total of US$12.2 million zero emission vehicle credits to other automakers, including Honda, up to March 31, 2010.

In October 2014, both Daimler and Toyota sold their holdings of Tesla shares. As of 2014, Tesla has a Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) of 276 mpg.

2010 initial public offering:

On January 29, 2010, Tesla Motors filed Form S-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, as a preliminary prospectus indicating its intention to file an initial public offering (IPO) underwritten by Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, J. P. Morgan, and Deutsche Bank Securities. On May 21, 2010, Tesla announced a “strategic partnership” with Toyota, which agreed to purchase US$50 million in Tesla common stock issued in a private placement to close immediately after the IPO. Executives at both companies said that they would cooperate on “the development of electric vehicles, parts, and production system and engineering support.” Less than two months later, Toyota and Tesla confirmed that their first platform collaboration would be to build an electric version of the RAV4 EV.

On June 29, 2010, Tesla Motors launched its initial public offering on NASDAQ. 13,300,000 shares of common stock were issued to the public at a price of US$17.00 per share. The IPO raised US$226 million for the company. It was the first American car maker to go public since the Ford Motor Company had its IPO in 1956, and by 2014 Tesla had market value half that of Ford. During November 2013, Tesla’s stock fell more than 20 percent, following news of a third Model S fire. All of those 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 Ss. In the following months Tesla developed a battery protection system as a no-cost retrofit to all Model Ss. No further regulatory action was taken, although there have been a few incidents since, most recently January 2016, with a charging Model S at a Norwegian Supercharger station. Despite the drop, Tesla was still the top performer on the Nasdaq 100 index in 2013. Tesla was seeking to sell 40,000 electric vehicles worldwide in 2014, adding China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Australia to the list of countries where it exports cars, but it later reduced its guidance on sales down to 33,000 units for 2014 in November 2014.

Production:

Tesla announced in November 2015 that during the third quarter of 2015 produced a record 13,091 vehicles, and also revised its target sales for 2015 to between 50,000 and 52,000 vehicles, including both of its models available for retail sales. The company expects to achieve an average production and deliveries of 1,600 to 1,800 vehicles per week for Model S and Model X combined during 2016. Tesla plans to deliver 80,000 to 90,000 new Model S and Model X vehicles in 2016.In October 2015, Tesla Motor announced the company is negotiating with the Chinese government on producing cars domestically. Local production has the potential to reduce the sales prices of Tesla models by a third. However, foreign automakers are generally required to establish a joint venture with a Chinese company to produce cars domestically Elon Musk clarified that production will remain in the U.S. in the foreseeable future, but if there’s sufficient local demand for the Tesla Model 3 in China, a factory could be built in the country as soon as a year after the launch of the new model. Production in Europe will also depend on the region’s demand for the Model 3.

Quarter Model S Model X Total
Q1 2015 10,030 0 10,030
Q2 2015 11,507 0 11,507
Q3 2015 13,091 6 13,097
Q4 2015 17,192 208 17,400

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.

Tesla has a three step strategy, where the battery and electric drivetrain technology for each new type would be developed and paid for through sales of the former types, starting with Tesla Roadster and moving on to the Tesla Model S, Model X and Model 3 vehicles. Step one was making the Tesla Roadster high price, low volume. The Model S is step two with mid price, mid volume. The third generation will be low price, high volume.

Aiming premium products at affluent “thought leaders” is a very well-known business strategy in Silicon Valley and the global technology industry, where prices for the first versions of, for example, cellular phones, laptop computers, and flat-screen televisions start high but drop with subsequent products as the technology matures and production volumes increase. According to a blog post by Musk, “New technology in any field takes a few versions to optimize before reaching the mass market, and in this case it is competing with 150 years and trillions of dollars spent on gasoline cars.”

While the Roadster’s base price was US$109,000, the Model S’s base price was US$57,400, and the Model 3’s projected base price is near US$35,000.

Tesla Motor’s high degree of vertical integration is a rare strategy in the automotive industry, where companies typically focus on engine manufacturing and vehicle assembly.

One of Tesla’s stated goals is to increase the number and variety of electric vehicles (EV) available to mainstream consumers by:

  • selling its own vehicles in company-owned showrooms and online;
  • selling powertrain components to other automakers
  • serving as a catalyst and positive example to other automakers

Tesla 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.

Tesla would like to disrupt the automotive industry in a way that Tesla investor Peter Thiel calls complex coordination, which means many innovative pieces fit together in just the right way and when assembled has tremendous advantages.

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 is placing an emphasis on hiring military veterans in large numbers saying “Veterans are a great source of talent for Tesla, and we’re going after it.”

Business model and US automotive dealership disputes:

Tesla gallery in Austin, Texas.

Tesla’s strategy of direct customer sales and owning its own stores and service centers is a significant departure from the standard dealership model currently dominating the U.S. vehicle marketplace. Tesla Motors is the only automaker that sells cars directly to consumers, with all other automakers using independently owned dealerships (partly due to an earlier conflict), although some automakers provide online configuration and/or financing. 48 states have laws that limit or ban manufacturers from selling vehicles directly to consumers, and even though Tesla Motors has no independent dealerships, dealership associations in multiple states have filed numerous lawsuits against Tesla Motors, trying to block the company from selling cars in some states. North Carolina and New Hampshire sided with Tesla Motors while Virginia and Texas have taken the opposite position.Tesla operates stores or galleries usually located in shopping malls—in 22 U.S. states and Washington DC. Customers cannot purchase vehicles from the stores, but must order them on the Tesla Motors website instead. 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.

This situation is unique to Tesla Motors’ US operations. Other countries do not have such regulatory laws dealing with car dealers and manufacturers. The Federal Trade Commission suggests allowing direct manufacturer sales, which analysts believe would save consumers an average of 8% on their car purchase. The National Automobile Dealers Association states that franchises (such as offered by its members) offer better value for customers than direct sales.

In August 2015, Tesla launched a wholesale revamp of its stores worldwide as the company prepares to debut its Model X. The stores will include interactive displays focused on four major themes: safety, autopilot features, the company’s charging network and the dual motors that power each axle.

Restrictive states:

Texas:

Texas law states “Except as provided by this section, a manufacturer or distributor may not directly or indirectly:(1) own an interest in a franchised or nonfranchised dealer or dealership;(2) operate or control a franchised or nonfranchised dealer or dealership; or(3) act in the capacity of a franchised or nonfranchised dealer. (Tex. Occ. Code Ann. § 2301.476) and “A motor vehicle shall not be advertised for sale in any manner that creates the impression that it is being offered for sale by the manufacturer or distributor of the vehicle. An advertisement shall not contain terms such as “factory sale,” “fleet prices,” “wholesale prices,” “factory approved,” “factory sponsored,” “manufacturer sale,” use a manufacturer’s name or abbreviation in any manner calculated or likely to create an impression that the vehicle is being offered for sale by the manufacturer or distributor, or use any other similar terms which indicate sales other than retail sales from the dealer” (43 Tex. Admin. Code § 215.261). These laws 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. 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. In 2015 Tesla had 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, Dallas, and Houston. Texas was considering passing legislation to allow Tesla to operate in the state but legislation was not passed.

New Jersey:

On March 10, 2014, it was announced that New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission and Governor Chris 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.” The meeting was for 2 pm 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.” 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 what Christie said earlier, “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.” Kevin Roberts, a spokesman for the Christie administration, responded by saying “it was the [Tesla Motors] company, not the governor’s office, that was attempting to bypass normal procedures.”. In March 2015 the ban on Tesla Motor’s operations in New Jersey was lifted, but with restrictions (maximum of 4 locations, and 1 service center).

Michigan:

On October 1, 2014, Michigan House Bill 5606, drafted “to keep automakers from forcing dealers to charge different documentation fees to different customers,” 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 nay vote from Tom McMillin 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. On 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, 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.” The law in Michigan goes so far as to ban a manufacturer from opening a service center for its cars, effectively banning Tesla Motors from opening even a service center.

Others

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

Indiana allows manufacturer sales for 30 months, ending direct Tesla sales by the end of 2017.

Permissive states:

In September 2014 Massachusetts allowed Tesla to sell directly. Georgia has legislation favorable to Tesla.

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

Certified Pre-Owned program:

Under a buyback program called Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) available in 37 states a Tesla Model S is sold with the right to return it to Tesla after three years for a reimbursement of between 43% and 50% of its initial price. This level of payment aims to match the trade-in value of a German luxury car of the same age. In addition to supporting a high resale value of its cars, Tesla Motors hopes to secure a steady supply of used cars. These cars will be refurbished and sold as second hand, immediately available from the Tesla stores with a certain warranty. According to Automotive News, the profit margin on used car sales in the USA is about triple that on new cars and since Tesla sells its cars directly to the end user, the prospect of selling the same car a second or third time to a new segment of the market can potentially be very profitable for Tesla. In May 2015 Tesla started selling their refurbished Model S in the USA and had by the end of that month sold 1600 cars to buyers younger, less wealthy and to a lesser extent from California than those who bought a new one. As of July 7, 2015 there were 269 pre-owned Tesla Model S available for purchase in the USA from Tesla with a four-year, 50,000-mile limited warranty. As of September 27, 2015 similar programs are available in Canada from three locations, and in these European countries: Austria (3 locations),Belgium (3 locations), Denmark (2 locations), France (3 locations), Germany (6 locations), Great Britain (3 locations), the Netherlands (4 locations),Norway (5 locations), Sweden (2 locations) and Switzerland (5 locations).

Technology:

Tesla Motors builds electric powertrain components for vehicles from other automakers, including the lowest-priced car from Daimler, the Smart ForTwo electric drive, the ToyotaRAV4 EV, and Freightliner’s Custom Chassis Electric Van.

Battery technology:

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 version of these cells, designed to be cheaper to manufacture and to be lighter than the standard cells. The cost and weight savings were made by removing some safety features which, according to Tesla Motors, are redundant because of the advanced thermal management system and a protective intumescent chemical in the battery pack. This chemical is intended to prevent battery fires. Currently Panasonic, a Tesla Motors investor, is the sole supplier of the battery cells for the car company.

Tesla Motors may have the lowest rates for electric car batteries; the estimated battery costs for Tesla Motors is around US$200 per kWh. Argonne Labs estimates $163/kWh at 500,000 packs per year. Currently, Tesla Motors charges US$10,000 more for the 85 kWh battery than the 60 kWh battery, or US$400 per kWh. At US$200 per kWh, the battery in the 60 kWh Model S would cost US$12,000, while the 85 kWh battery would cost US$17,000. The price increase is closer to US$8,000, as supercharging is included in the higher price. It is a US$2,000 option for the 60 kWh version.

In the Model S, Tesla Motors integrated the battery pack into the floor of the vehicle, unlike in the Roadster, which had the battery pack behind the seats. Because the battery is integrated into the floor of the Model S, no interior space is lost for batteries, unlike in other electric vehicles, which often lose trunk space or interior space to batteries. The location of the battery pack and the lower ride of the Model S does put the battery at a higher risk of being damaged by road debris or an impact. To protect the battery pack, the Model S has 0.25 in (6 mm) aluminum-alloy armor plate. The battery pack’s location allows for quick battery swapping. A battery swap can take as little as 90 seconds in the Model S. Tesla’s first battery swap station is located at Harris Ranch, California, and is operational as of December 22, 2014. Since 2008, Tesla has worked with ToxCo/Kinsbursky to recycle worn out RoHS batteries, which will be an integral part of GigaFactory.

Technology sharing:

The Tesla Patent Wall at its headquarters was removed after the company announced its patents are part of the open source movement.

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. Future agreements to be made are expected to include provisions whereby the recipients agree not to file patent suits against Tesla, or to copy their designs directly. Reasons expressed for this stance include attracting and motivating talented employees, as well as to accelerate the mass market advancement of electric cars for sustainable transport. “The unfortunate reality is, electric car programs (or programs for any vehicle that doesn’t burn hydrocarbons) at the major manufacturers are small to non-existent, constituting an average of far less than 1% of their total vehicle sales,” Musk said. Tesla will still hold other intellectual property, such as trademarks and trade secrets, which would prevent direct copying of its vehicles.

Competition:

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.”

Car models:

Tesla Roadster:

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 200 miles (320 km) per charge.

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. The first “Signature One Hundred” set of fully equipped Roadsters sold out in less than three weeks, the second hundred sold out by October 2007, and general production began on March 17, 2008. Since February 2008 two new models were introduced, one in July 2009, and another in July 2010.

In January 2010, Tesla began producing its first right-hand-drive Roadsters for the UK and Ireland, then began selling them in mid-2010 in Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia. Tesla produced the Roadster until early 2012, when its supply of Lotus Elise gliders ran out, as its contract with Lotus Cars for 2,500 gliders expired at the end of 2011. Tesla stopped taking orders for the Roadster in the U.S. market in August 2011. Featuring new options and enhanced features, the 2012 Tesla Roadster was sold in limited numbers only in Europe, Asia and Australia. The next generation is expected to be introduced in 2019, based on a shortened version of the platform developed for the Tesla Model S. Tesla sold more than 2,400 Roadsters in 31 countries through September 2012. Most of the remaining Roadsters were sold during the fourth quarter of 2012.

The car had an average range of 245 miles (394 km) per charge according to Tesla. On October 27, 2009, the Roadster driven by Simon Hackett drove the entire 313-mile (504 km) segment of Australia’s annual Global Green Challenge on a single charge, at an average speed of 25 mph (40 km/h). The Tesla Roadster can accelerate from zero to 60 mph (97 km/h) in under 4 seconds and has a top speed of 125 mph (201 km/h). The base price of the car is US$109,000 (€84,000 or £87,945). The Roadster Sport price started at US$128,500 in the United States and €112,000 (excluding VAT) in Europe. Deliveries began in July 2009. 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.”

Model S:

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

The Model S was announced in a press release on June 30, 2008. The sedan was originally code-named “Whitestar”. Retail deliveries began in the U.S. on June 22, 2012. The first delivery of a Model S to a retail customer in Europe took place on August 7, 2013. Deliveries in China began on April 22, 2014. First deliveries of the right-hand-drive model destined for the UK, Australia, Hong Kong and Japan were delivered as scheduled in 2014. The Model S was to have three battery pack options for a range of up to 265 miles (426 km) per charge, but this was reduced to two, due to lack of demand for the shortest range vehicle. The United States Environmental Protection Agency range for the 85 kW·h battery pack model, the first trim launched in the United States market, is 265 mi (426 km), and 208 mi (335 km) for the model with the 60 kW·h battery.

A total of 2,650 Model S cars were sold in the North American market during 2012, mostly in the United States. Sales in Europe and North America totaled 22,477 units in 2013. During 2014 a total of 31,655 units were delivered worldwide, and 33,174 units were sold worldwide during the first three-quarters of 2015. The United States is the leading market with over 50,000 units sold by early July 2015. Norway is the Model S largest overseas market, with 8,697 new units registered through June 2015. As of September 2015, a total of 89,956 units had been sold worldwide since its introduction in June 2012. Global Model S sales passed the 100,000 unit milestone in December 2015, three years and a half after its introduction.

Global Model S sales by quarter through December 2015.

The Tesla Model S was the top selling new car in Norway in September 2013, thus becoming the first electric car to top the sales ranking in any country. The Model S captured a market share of 5.1% of all new car sales that month. In December 2013, and with a 4.9% market share, the Model S topped one more time the best selling new car list in Norway. In March 2014 Tesla Model S became the best-ever selling car for over a period of one month in Norway, with 10.8% of all new cars registered in the country in March 2014 were Tesla Model S. The Model S ranked as the third top selling plug-in electric car in the U.S. after the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf in 2013 and 2014. Also in 2013, the Model S was the top selling car in the full-size luxury sedan category in the U.S., ahead of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class (13,303), the top selling car in the category in 2012, and also surpassing the BMW 7 Series(10,932), Lexus LS (10,727), Audi A8 (6,300) and Porsche Panamera (5,421). The Model S ranked as the world’s second best selling plug-in electric vehicle after the Nissan Leaf in 2014,

The Model S, with total global sales of 50,446 units, was the world’s best selling plug-in electric vehicle in 2015, up from second best in 2014. The Model S also ranked as the top selling plug-in electric car in the U.S. in 2015. As of December 2015, the Model S, with a total of 107,228 units sold worldwide since its introduction, ranks as the world’s second best selling plug-in car in history after the Nissan Leaf (200,000).

Robotic manufacturing of the Model S at the Tesla Factory in Fremont, California

Tesla manufactures the Model S in Fremont, California, in an assembly plant formerly operated by NUMMI, a defunct joint venture ofToyota and General Motors, now called Tesla Factory. Tesla purchased a stake in the site in May 2010 for US$42 million, and opened the facility in October 2010. For the European market, Tesla assembles and distributes the Model S from its European Distribution Center in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Tesla chose Tilburg because of its location near the port of Rotterdam, where Models S components arrive from the U.S. The center also serves as a workshop and spare parts warehouse. Cars are built and tested in Fremont. Then, the battery pack, the electric motor and parts are disassembled and shipped separately to Tilburg, where the cars are reassembled.

Among other awards, the Model S won the 2013 “Motor Trend Car of the Year”, the 2013 “World Green Car”, Automobile Magazine’s 2013 “Car of the Year”, and Time Magazine Best 25 Inventions of the Year 2012 award. In June 2015, three years after the Model S introduction and with almost 75,000 Model S sedans delivered worldwide, Tesla announced that Model S owners have accumulated over 1 billion electric miles (1.6 billion km) traveled. The Tesla Model S is the first plug-in electric vehicle fleet to reach the 1 billion electric miles milestone. In October 2014 General Motors reported that Volt owners had accumulated a total of 629 million all-electric miles (over 1 billion kilometers) traveled; while Nissan reported in December 2014 that Leaf owners had traveled 625 million miles (1 billion kilometers).

In October 2014, Tesla announced the 85D and P85D dual-motor all-wheel drive variants of the Model S. The high-end P85D can accelerate from 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) in 3.2 seconds and has a top speed of 155 miles per hour (249 km/h), compared to the Model P85’s 130 miles per hour (210 km/h). The Model S 85D can cruise at 65 mph (105 km/h) for 295 miles (475 km) on a single charge, 10 miles more than the Model S 85. The control system shifts power between the motors, so each is always operating at its most efficient point.

In November 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.

In April 2015 Tesla Motors announced a new 70D to replace the 60. The 70D includes the Supercharger option and is rated at 240 miles (386 km) on a charge. In July 2015, they announced the 90 kW-h model, with the 90, 90D, and P90D, concomitant with the new battery, a higher performance motor would be available, with Ludicrous Mode, making the top-of-the-line variant have 762 hp and a 1.1g acceleration rate.

In the first nine months of 2015, Tesla Model S sales of 10,600 in Western Europe exceeded the outgoing BMW 7 Series with 2,650 and the soon to be replaced Audi A8 limousine with 4,700. The Model S was only 800 sales short of the Mercedes S class.

AutoPilot:

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. These features have been implemented, and have been activated via over-the-air software updates as of October 15, 2015. The technology has been developed in partnership with the Israeli company Mobileye.

In December 2015, Tesla announced that it will remove some of its self-driving features to discourage customers from engaging in risky stunts. The Firmware 7.1 Autopilot update will include restrictions that will only allow the Autopilot system and its Autosteer feature to engage when the Model S is travelling below the posted speed limit. Cruise control will still operate at any speed.

Model X:

Elon Musk delivering one of the first six Model X Founders Series models

The Tesla Model X is a full-size crossover SUV. Unveiled in February 2012, production models of the car began deliveries in September 2015.

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.

The Tesla Model X (right) shares the same platform and 30% of the parts of the Tesla Model S (left).

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, 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. 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. In August 2015, user groups estimated around 30,000 X pre-orders, compared to 12,000 for the S.

Retail 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 3:

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. Tesla unveiled it March 31, 2016. The all-electric car will have a range of at least 200 miles (320 km), with first deliveries not expected to begin in the U.S. until the late 2017, and full production in 2018. However, according to Elon Musk, full production to fulfill expected demand could take up to 2020. Tesla is aiming for a US$35,000 starting price before any applicable government incentives.

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. While technology from Tesla’s Model S will be incorporated into the Model 3, it will be 20% smaller than the Model S and have its own unique design. While the Model S is generally a standard looking car, the third generation vehicle will have a more distinctive style.

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.

In September 2015, Tesla announced that the Model 3 would be unveiled in March 2016.In January 2016, Musk stated that the first official pictures of the car will be revealed at the end of March 2016, but full details will only be revealed a lot closer to production time. Delivery would begin in late 2017 first on the US West Coast and then move eastwards. Potential customers were first able to reserve their spot in the queue at Tesla stores on March 31st with a refundable deposit of US$1,000. Tens of thousands of people were reported waiting in lines to reserve their spot. The Model 3 was revealed through a live stream on Tesla’s website on March 31, 2016 at 8:30 PST. During his live presentation, Musk said Tesla had received 115,000 pre-orders for the Model 3 in the past 24 hours. The company was up to 200,000 orders within one day of making the announcement.

On March 31, 2016, Tesla unveiled its Model 3. The vehicle is priced at $35,000, goes from zero to 60 in less than 6 seconds and has a range of at least 215 miles.

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.

Other vehicle types 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 in addition to the Model X crossover: a utility van and cabriolet were discussed that, if built, would be based on the second generation platform shared with the Model S. Other than the third generation platform to be first used by the Model 3, the possibility of a truck was under discussion in 2012. In July 2015, it was announced that a successor to the Roadster would debut in 2019. In October 2015, Elon 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.

Future models may also reach a 500 mi (800 km) range, partially because of a new patented battery system, pairing metal-air and lithium-ion batteries.

Battery products:

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 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.

Battery cells will initially be made by Panasonic. When production shifts to Reno (forecast for 2016 or 2017), Tesla expects costs to drop by 30%.

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.

Supercharger network:

In 2012, in order to allow drivers to quickly charge their cars for longer journeys, Tesla Motors began building a network of 480-volt fast-charging Supercharger stations. As of 31 December 2015 there were 528 stations operating globally, with over 3,000 individual chargers. 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 170 miles (270 km) of range in about 25 minutes and a full charge in around 37 minutes. A software update provided in 2015 to all Tesla’s cars uses demand information from each Supercharger station to plan the fastest route, if charging will be necessary to reach the destination.

As of 11 May 2015 there were 203 stations in North America, 150 in Europe, and 76 in the Asia/Pacific region. As of June 2015, Hong Kong has the highest density of Tesla superchargers in the world, with eight stations comprising a total of 36 supercharger stalls, allowing most Model S owners to have a supercharger within 20 minutes’ drive.

The initial network was made 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, andLas Vegas. A second corridor was opened in December 2012 along the Northeast megalopolis, connecting Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, andBoston; it includes three stations located in highway rest areas, one in Delaware and two adjacent ones in Connecticut.

Tesla Model S charging at the Supercharger network station in Delaware

The electricity used by the Supercharger in the West Coast corridor comes from a solar carport system provided by SolarCity. Eventually, all Supercharger stations are to be supplied by solar power. The network is exclusive to Model S and Model X sedans. Supercharging hardware is standard on Model S vehicles equipped with a 70 kWh battery or greater and optional (with a one-time payment of US$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. 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.

The number of supercharger stations grew dramatically in 2013 and 2014—to 280 by the end of 2014 this number grew further through 2015 totaling 584 superchargers in by the end of 2015—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.

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). 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.

By 2016, the European supercharger network is planned to allow a Model S to drive from the North Cape in Norway to Istanbul or Lisbon.As of February 2016, the supercharger closest to Istanbul is the one in Senj (Croatia).

Battery swapping:

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.

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. 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 15 US gallons (57 l; 12 imp gal) of gasoline at the current local rate, around US$60 to US$80 at June 2013 prices. Owners can pick up their 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. As of 17 December 2014, 18 months after the initial announcement, no battery swapping stations have yet opened to the public, 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. 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.”

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.

Facilities:

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.

United States:

New Tesla Model S cars at the Tesla Factory in 2012

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 went back to California while some moved into a smaller office in Auburn Hills. Tesla opened its first retail store in Los Angeles, on Santa Monica Boulevard in the Westwood neighborhood, in April 2008 and a second in Menlo Park, California, in July 2008. The company opened a display showroom in New York City’s Chelsea art district in July 2009. 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. 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 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.

In 2015, Tesla bought Riviera Tool & Die (with 100 employees in Michigan), one of its suppliers of stamped items.

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

GigaFactory:

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 percent. 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 US$1.3 billion of incentives for the factory. Two days later, state lawmakers unanimously approved the plan. The factory, near Reno, Nevada was slated to start up in 2016 or 2017.

Tesla Factory:

Tesla built its Model S assembly plant in California with a fully ramped-up annual output of 20,000 sedans. Tesla 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 June 2015, Tesla signed a lease to occupy a manufacturing building at 901 Page Avenue. The location is very close to its existing car plant in Fremont. The building is more than 500,000 sq ft (46,500 m2) and was formerly used by Solyndra.

Canada:

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. As of August 2015, there are eight Tesla stores/galleries in Canada: one in Montreal, one in Waterloo, one in Ottawa, one in Quebec City, one in Calgary, two in Toronto, and two in Vancouver.

Europe:

Tesla showroom in Munich, Germany

Tesla opened its first store in Europe in June 2009 in London’s Knightsbridge district, followed by Munich 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.Slovakia is a contender, with the carmaker already involved in talks with the Slovak Agency for Development of Investments and Trade (SARIO).

Asia:

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. 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 ¥12.8 million (about US$103,702) and ¥20 million (about US$162,035).

Tesla Motors established a Hong Kong branch and showroom in 2011. Roadsters were previously sold in Hong Kong for HK $1.2 million. 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.

Australia:

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.

Tesla Motors Australia opened its second Melbourne store and first service center/Showroom in Melbourne at Richmond, Victoria in May 2015.

Partners:

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.

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. 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. 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. In March 2009, Aabar purchased a 9% stake in Daimler for €1,95 billion. In October 2014, Daimler sold their remaining holding.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class:

The Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive uses a battery pack developed by Tesla.

Tesla, in collaboration with Mercedes-Benz, is building electric powertrain components for the Mercedes-Benz A-Class E-Cell, an electric car with a range of 200 km (124 mi) and 290 N·m (214 ft·lbf) of torque. The 36 kWh battery pack would contain approximately 4,000 individual lithium-ion cells. 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.

Smart Fortwo:

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.

Toyota:

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:

Toyota RAV4 EV second generation

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.

Panasonic:

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.” 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.

Airbnb:

In August 2015, Tesla partnered with Airbnb to provide chargers at certain host houses, firstly in California.

Lawsuits and Controversies:

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”. 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.

Founder dispute:

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.”

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 theTop 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.

Ecotricity:

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.

Cold weather:

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.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk responded immediately, 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

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 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”.

Electrical Consumption of Tesla Model S 2014 Variant:

In early March 2016, a report by stuff.tv emerged that VICOM Ltd, a subsidiary of ComfortDelgro Corporation Limited and Singapore’s Land Transport Authority authorised inspection centre, ran a test on a used 2014 Tesla Model S. The test was performed under the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) R101 standards. The results from VICOM states that the car was consuming 444 watt hour per kilometre (Wh/km). However, a check on the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that the 2014 Tesla Model S consumes about 38 kilowatts hour per 100 miles. This is equivalent to 236.12 (Wh/km), a marginally large electrical consumption difference for a 2 year old car. As of 5 March, no explanation was made as to why the results varied so much.

On 10 March, the Land Transport Authority released a statement that LTA and VICOM Emission Test Laboratory will be working with Tesla engineers to look further into this case.

Product issues:

Recalls:

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.

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.”

Delays:

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.

Hacking:

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.

Servicing:

Tesla does not provide service manuals except in places where they are legally required to.

Board of directors:

As of 2014, the Tesla Motors board of directors consists of:

  • Elon Musk—Chairman of the board of directors, CEO and Product Architect of Tesla; former President of PayPal, founder, CEO and CTO of SpaceX; Chairman of the board,SolarCity
  • Brad Buss—CFO of Cypress Semiconductor Corp
  • Ira Ehrenpreis—General Partner, Technology Partners
  • Antonio J. Gracias—CEO and Chairman of the Investment Committee at Valor Equity Partners
  • Steve Jurvetson—managing director, Draper Fisher Jurvetson.
  • Harald Kroeger—Mercedes-Benz Vice President, responsible for electrics and electronics
  • Kimbal Musk—CEO of Medium, Inc., Co-founder Zip2
  • Robyn Denholm—chief financial officer and Executive Vice President, Juniper Networks

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Chinna

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