Shortly after Tesla Motors co-founder Martin Eberhard filed a lawsuit against Tesla Motors and its Chairman, Product Architect and CEO Elon Musk, the Silicon Valley automaker had this to say:
This lawsuit is a fictionalized, inaccurate account of Tesla's early years -- it's twisted and wrong, and we welcome the opportunity to set the record straight. Incidentally, Tesla will also be filing counterclaims and in the process present an accurate account of the company's history.The first bit of record resetting has shown up on the official Tesla blog. Not surprisingly, Elon Musk has lots to say in regards to the early years of the Roadster's development, and he seeks to offer his side of the story, along with a number of emails to back up his claims.
What does Musk say? Well, his initial response is a long, informative and extremely interesting read. Here are some choice lines:
- The facts are that when I requested through AC Propulsion to meet Eberhard, he had no technology of his own, he did not have a prototype car and he owned no intellectual property relating to electric cars.
- At the time [early 2004], "Tesla Motors, Inc." consisted of Eberhard, Tarpenning and Wright, plus an unfunded business plan and they were looking for an initial round of funding to create a more advanced prototype than the AC Propulsion Tzero. While there was a basic corporation in place, Tesla hadn't even registered or obtained the trademark to its name and had no formal offices or assets.
There's more after the jump.
Related GalleryMartin Eberhard's Founders Series Tesla Roadster
[Source: Elon Musk / Tesla Motors]
From Elon Musk:
- To save legal fees, we just copied the SpaceX articles of incorporation and bylaws for Tesla and I invested $6.35M (98%) of the initial closing of $6.5M in Series A funding. Eberhard invested $75k (approximately 1%). In another crossover, I had the same people who created the SpaceX logo also create the Tesla logo.
- For the first few years of Tesla's existence, I trusted Eberhard to execute on the operational task of taking the Tzero concept and creating a commercial electric sports car. My involvement was primarily focused on the body design, technical specifications and building the Tesla brand.
- Eberhard has simultaneously implied that I had nothing to do with the creation of the Roadster and that I micromanaged the design and thus caused the cost overruns. Obviously, those claims are mutually exclusive.
- The real reason that Roadster development cost so much more than can be accounted for by typical entrepreneurial hubris is that we essentially had to spend the development money twice. After Eberhard was asked to step down from the CEO role two years ago, almost every major system on the car, including the body, HVAC, motor, power electronics, transmission and battery pack, had to be redesigned, retooled or switched to a new supplier. With the release of the Roadster 2 this month, we are finally at the point where Tesla has a solid supply chain and a unit cost that allows us to operate the Roadster business line profitably.
- This point is so trivial that I'm nearly inclined to skip it. However, in the absence of an explanation, it may sound as though I was being petty in giving Eberhard the third production car rather than the second production car. The reason for the delayed delivery was that there was considerable debate at the board level as to whether Eberhard should receive a car at all or whether he should be refunded his money.