Tesla, Inc.

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Tesla, Inc.
Formerly
Tesla Motors, Inc. (2003–2017)
Public
Traded as
ISINUS88160R1014
Industry
FoundedJuly 1, 2003; 15 years ago (2003-07-01)[1]
Founders
Headquarters
Palo Alto, California
,
U.S.
Area served
Worldwide
Key people
Products
Production output
Increase 101,312 vehicles (2017)
RevenueIncrease US$11.759 billion (2017)
Decrease US$-1.632 billion (2017)
Decrease US$−1.961 billion (2017)
Total assetsIncrease US$28.655 billion (2017)
Total equityDecrease US$4.237 billion (2017)
OwnerElon Musk (21.9%)[3]
Number of employees
45,000[4] (2018)
Subsidiaries
Websitetesla.com
Footnotes / references
[5][6]

Coordinates: 37°23′41″N 122°09′01″W / 37.3947057°N 122.1503251°W / 37.3947057; -122.1503251

Tesla's financial performance
Tesla's paid-in capital makes up the accumulated deficit to maintain its operation

Tesla, Inc. (formerly Tesla Motors, Inc.) is an American automotive and energy company based in Palo Alto, California.[7] The company specializes in electric car manufacturing and, through its SolarCity subsidiary, solar panel manufacturing. It operates multiple production and assembly plants, notably Gigafactory 1 near Reno, Nevada, and its main vehicle manufacturing facility at Tesla Factory in Fremont, California. As of June 2018, Tesla sells the Model S, Model X and Model 3 vehicles, Powerwall and Powerpack batteries, solar panels, solar roof tiles, and some related products.

Tesla was founded in July 2003, by engineers Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, under the name Tesla Motors. The company's name was derived from physicist Nikola Tesla. In early Series A funding, Tesla Motors was joined by Elon Musk, J. B. Straubel and Ian Wright, all of whom are retrospectively allowed to call themselves co-founders of the company. Musk, who formerly served as chairman and is the current chief executive officer, said that he envisioned Tesla Motors as a technology company and independent automaker, aimed at eventually offering electric cars at prices affordable to the average consumer. Tesla Motors shortened its name to Tesla in February 2017.

Contents

History[edit]

Original roadster and private funding[edit]

Tesla Motors was founded by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning on July 1, 2003.[1] In the early days of the company, the two financed its operations before calling for outside funding.[1] Following an early Series A round of funding, the company's board was joined by investors Elon Musk, J. B. Straubel and Ian Wright.[1] A September 2009 lawsuit settling agreement between Eberhard and Tesla Motors allows all five to call themselves founders.[2] The founders were influenced to start the company after GM recalled and destroyed its EV1 electric cars in 2003.[8]

The insignia of Tesla as seen on a Tesla Roadster (2008) Sport

Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning conceived and founded the company, also funding the company until the Series A round.[9] Musk led the Series A in February 2004, joining the board of directors as its chairman as well as in operational roles. Musk was then the controlling investor in Tesla, providing the large majority of the US$7.5 million round with personal funds. Co-founder Martin Eberhard was the original CEO of Tesla until he was asked to resign in August 2007 by the board of directors.[9][10] Eberhard then took the title of "President of Technology" before ultimately leaving the company in January 2008 along with co-founder Marc Tarpenning, who served as the CFO and subsequently the Vice-President of Electrical Engineering of the company until 2008. [9][10] Eberhard later filed suit against the company allegedly that current CEO Elon Musk sought to "rewrite history".[2]

Tesla began with a sports car aimed at early adopters followed by mainstream and mass market vehicles,[11][12] all serving "as a catalyst to accelerate the day of electric vehicles".[13]

Tesla signed a Roadster production contract on July 11, 2005, with Group Lotus to produce "gliders" (complete cars but without powertrain).[14] The Roadster used an AC motor descended directly from Nikola Tesla's original 1882 design.[15]

The Tesla Roadster (2008) was the first production automobile to use lithium-ion battery cells and the first production EV with a range greater than 200 mi (320 km) per charge.[16] Between 2008 and March 2012, Tesla sold more than 2,250 Roadsters in 31 countries.[17][18][19] Tesla stopped taking orders for the Roadster in the U.S. market in August 2011.[20]

In December 2012, Tesla employed almost 3,000 full-time employees.[21][22] As of late 2016, Tesla employed more than 30,000 (25,000 in the US) after acquiring Grohmann and SolarCity.[23]

Musk also led Tesla's Series B US$13 million investment round and 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.[24] The fourth round in May 2007 added another US$45 million.

In late 2007, Tesla brought on Michael Marks,[25] and later Ze'ev Drori, to replace Eberhard as CEO.[26] Drori temporarily returned the company to profitability, reducing the company's workforce by about 10%.[27] In October 2008, Musk became CEO and laid off an additional 25% of Tesla's workforce.[26] In December, a fifth round added another US$40 million, avoiding bankruptcy.[28][29]

By January 2009, Tesla had raised US$187 million and delivered 147 cars. Musk himself had invested US$70 million.[27][30] In May 2009, Daimler AG acquired an equity stake of less than 10% of Tesla for a reported US$50 million,[31][32] again saving Tesla.[33] Toyota provided a similar amount in 2010.[32]

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 low-interest loans from the 2007 US$8 billion Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program by the United States Department of Energy.[34] The funding came in 2010 and supported engineering and production of the Model S, as well as the development of commercial powertrain technology.[34]

IPO, Model S, and Model X[edit]

On June 29, 2010, Tesla 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.[35] The IPO raised US$226 million.[36]

Tesla began shipping its Model S sedan in June 2012.[37] In May 2013, Tesla raised $1.02 billion ($660m from bonds) partially to repay the DOE loans (early[38]) after their first profitable quarter.[39][40] In February 2014 the company sold $2 billion in bonds (to build GigaFactory 1).[40] In August 2015 Tesla sold $738 million in stock (for the Model X)[41] and in May 2016, $1.46 billion in stock ($1.26 billion for the Model 3).[42] As of January 29, 2016, Musk owned about 28.9 million Tesla shares, or about 22% of the total.[43][44]

Tesla began shipping the Model X crossover SUV in September 2015.[45] Global sales of the Model S reached 100,000 in December 2015.[46]

Tesla's vehicles and operations are eligible for various forms of federal and state subsidy, which it was estimated in 2015 amounted to at least $30,000 for each vehicle sold, or cumulatively $4.9 billion.[47][48]

Tesla stated that its automotive branch had a gross margin of 23.1% as of 2Q 2016, and has generally been above 20%.[49] However, expenditures for expanding future production are bigger than product profit, resulting in a net loss.[50]

Notable known owners of Tesla
Percentage Owner
~20% Elon Musk Foundation[51]
10.2% T. Rowe Price[51][52][53]
7.7% Baillie Gifford[51][52][53]
Fidelity Investments OTC Portfolio mutual fund[52]
~5% Tencent[51]
~5% Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia[54][55]
The Vanguard Group[51][52]
BlackRock[52]
Capital Group Companies[52]
Jennison Associates[52]
Harris myCFO[52]
~1% Baron Capital[56]
0.48% Government Pension Fund of Norway[57]
~0.1% Kimbal Musk

SolarCity acquisition[edit]

On August 1, 2016, Tesla agreed to acquire SolarCity Corp. for $2.6 billion in stock. SolarCity was then the largest installer of rooftop solar systems in the United States.[58] More than 85% of unaffiliated Tesla and SolarCity shareholders voted to approve the acquisition,[59][60] which closed on November 21, 2016.[61]

After it acquired SolarCity, Tesla stopped using door to door sales tactics for solar systems; instead, it markets and sells its products at stores. It also does not provide a leasing option for solar panels, and consumers must purchase them.[62]

Model 3 rollout[edit]

The Tesla Model 3 first deliveries event took place on July 28, 2017.

Model 3 was unveiled in March 2016. A week after the unveiling, global reservations totaled 325,000 units.[63][64] As a result of the demand for Model 3, in May 2016, Tesla advanced its 500,000 annual unit build plan (for all models) by two years to 2018.[65][66]

On February 1, 2017 the company changed its name from Tesla Motors to Tesla.[67][68] In late March 2017, Tesla Inc. announced that Tencent Holdings Ltd., at the time China's "most valuable company," had purchased a 5% stake in Tesla for $1.8 billion.[69] In 2017, Tesla briefly surpassed Ford Motor Company and General Motors in market capitalization for a couple of months, making it the most valuable American automaker.[70][71] In June 2017, Tesla appeared for the first time in the Fortune 500 list.[70]

In the week preceding the debut on July 7, 2017, of the Model 3 sedan, Tesla's stock-market value declined by more than $12 billion from a previous value of $63 billion. The loss was a result of a combination of factors that disappointed investors. Demand for Tesla's luxurious existing models, Model S and Model X, did not grow in the second quarter.[72] Brian Johnson of Barclays said that customer deposits for the Model S and Model X fell by $50 million, potentially indicating that Tesla's introduction of the Model 3 could be adversely affecting their sales. Tesla predicted that luxury sales would reach 100,000 per year, below some analysts' expectations.[73]

Investors expressed concern about Tesla's plans for execution and competitive risk, as Volvo Cars committed to introduce only electric and electric-assisted vehicles by 2019.[74][72] Johnson claimed that "Tesla will face intense competition by the next decade."[75]

Morningstar analyst David Whiston foresaw a revised, slower timetable for the Model 3 and a company acknowledgement of problems with building battery packs for its cars. In 2016 Musk predicted 100,000 Model 3 units would be sold in 2017, but that production may reach only 20,000 by December. Axel Schmidt, a managing director at consulting firm Accenture, said that Tesla's problems with Gigafactory 1 prove that increasing Model 3 production "remains a huge challenge".[75] In October 2017, Tesla reported delivery of 220 Model 3s, acknowledging this was "less than anticipated due to production bottlenecks".[76]

In early November 2017, Musk advised investors of a production delay that was primarily due to difficulties with the new battery that would allow Tesla to significantly reduce the manufacturing cost of the Model 3. The company was having difficulties with robots on the assembly line[77] but the most serious issue was with one of the four zones in the battery manufacturing, caused by a "systems integration subcontractor", according to Musk.[78] "We had to rewrite all of the software from scratch for the battery module", he reported.[79] He assured investors that Tesla had "reallocated" top engineers to work on achieving a solution. By that time, Jon Wagner, director of battery engineering, had left the company.[80] Also in November, Musk postponed the target date for manufacturing 5000 of the vehicles per week from December 2017 to "sometime in March" 2018;[77] about which an analyst with Cowan and Company commented that "Elon Musk needs to stop over promising and under delivering".[81] On November 21, 2017, Bloomberg stated that "over the past 12 months, the electric-car maker has been burning money at a clip of about $8,000 a minute (or $480,000 an hour)" preparing for Model 3.[82]

In April 2018, Musk increased the 5000 per week number by 20%; forecasting Tesla could achieve 6,000 units per week by the end of June 2018.[83] When asked when the company would reach a production level of 10,000 units per week, he declined to speculate.[79]

For Q2 2018, Tesla reported delivery of 28,578 Model 3 vehicles, which exceeded combined Model S and X production (24,761), almost three times the amount of Model 3's than in Q1.[84]

2018 consideration of taking Tesla private[edit]

In an August 7, 2018 tweet, major Tesla stockholder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk stated: "Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured."[85][86] On Tesla's blog Musk elaborated that Tesla's status as a public company subjects it to the quarterly earnings cycle that puts enormous pressure on the company to make decisions that may be right for a given quarter, but not necessarily right for the company's long-term growth. Additionally, as the most shorted stock in the history of the stock market, being a publicly traded company means that there are large numbers of investors who may have the incentive to attack the company.[87] Musk released a considerably more detailed statement on the Tesla Blog the following week indicating that the proposal was by him in his personal capacity, and not as CEO of Tesla. Furthermore, he indicated that he had high confidence in the funding being secured based on discussions with the managing director of the Saudi sovereign wealth fund who had requested Musk consider taking Tesla private and indicated strong capital support for doing so.[88] On August 24 Musk released a statement indicating that both he and the Tesla Board of Directors had made the decision for the company to remain traded on the public stock markets.[89][90]

In September 2018, Musk was sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for the tweet claiming that funding had been secured for taking Tesla private. The lawsuit characterized the tweet as false, misleading, and damaging to investors, and sought to bar Musk from serving as CEO on publicly traded companies.[91][92] Musk settled with the SEC two days later. The settlement terms required Musk to leave as chairman, and prohibited him from running for chairman again for three years. Additionally, he and Tesla Inc. were fined $20M each to reimburse investors whom were harmed by Musk's tweet.[93][94]

In November 2018, Tesla vehicles outsold Mercedes-Benz in the United States market for the first time.[95]

Production and sales[edit]

Global sales passed 250,000 units in September 2017,[96][97] and Tesla produced its 300,000th vehicle in February 2018.[98]

10,000
20,000
30,000
40,000
50,000
60,000
70,000
80,000
90,000
Q3 2012
Q4
Q1
Q2 2013
Q3
Q4
Q1
Q2 2014
Q3
Q4
Q1
Q2 2015
Q3
Q4
Q1
Q2 2016
Q3
Q4
Q1
Q2 2017
Q3
Q4
Q1
Q2 2018
Q3
  •   Model S
  •   Model X
  •   Model 3
Quarter Total
production
Model S
sales
Model X
sales
Model 3
sales
Total
sales[b]
In transit[c] Source
Q1 2015 11,160 10,045 10,045 [99]
Q2 2015 12,807 11,532 11,532 [100]
Q3 2015 13,091 11,597 6 11,603 [101]
Q4 2015 14,037 17,272 206 17,478 [102]
Q1 2016 15,510 12,420 2,400 14,820 2,615 [66]
Q2 2016 18,345 9,764 4,638 14,402 5,150 [103][104]
Q3 2016 25,185 16,047 8,774 24,821 5,065 [105]
Q4 2016[d] 24,882 12,700 9,500 22,254 6,450 [106][107]
Q1 2017 25,418 ~13,450 ~11,550 25,051 ~4,650 [108]
Q2 2017 25,708 ~12,000 ~10,000 22,026 ~3,500 [109][110]
Q3 2017 25,336 14,065 11,865 222 26,137 4,820 [111][96]
Q4 2017 24,565 ~15,200 ~13,120 1,542 29,967 3,380 [112][113]
Q1 2018 34,494 11,730 10,070 8,182 29,997 6,100 [114]
Q2 2018 53,339 10,930 11,370 18,440 40,740 15,058 [115][116]
Q3 2018 80,142 14,470 13,190 56,065 83,725 11,824 [117][118]
  1. ^ a b c Eberhard and Tarpenning incorporated Tesla, while Musk, Straubel and Wright joined in a Series A round later on. A lawsuit settlement agreed to by Eberhard and Tesla in September 2009 allows all five to call themselves founders.[2]
  2. ^ Sales are only counted as sold when delivered to end customer and all paperwork is correct
  3. ^ Goods in transit are produced but not counted as sold until delivered
  4. ^ Sales by model do not add up to total, these are preliminary figures reported by Tesla. Only total sales is final figures are reported by Tesla, as breakdown by model is not typically provided.

Tesla deliveries vary significantly by month due to regional issues such as ship availability and registration. Tesla does not follow the auto industry standard of monthly reporting.[119] Some monthly sales are estimated by media.[120]

Strategy[edit]

Tesla aims to change the automotive industry by creating many innovative pieces that fit together; this strategy was called "complex coordination" by Tesla investor Peter Thiel.[121] Its marketing, production, sales and technology strategies all are notably different from its competitors.

Tesla's automotive strategy is to emulate typical technological-product life cycles and initially target affluent buyers. It then moved into larger markets at lower price points.[11][122] The battery and electric drivetrain technology for each model would be developed and paid for through the sales of earlier models.[11][123] The Roadster was low-volume and priced at US$109,000. Model S and Model X targeted the broader luxury market. Model 3 is aimed at a higher-volume segment.[12][124] This business strategy is common in the technology industry.[125] According to a Musk blog post, "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."[126]

Tesla's production strategy includes a high degree of vertical integration (80% in 2016[127]), which includes component production and proprietary charging infrastructure. The company operates enormous factories to capture economies of scale. Tesla builds electric powertrain components for vehicles from other automakers, including the Smart ED2 ForTwo electric drive (the lowest-priced car from Daimler AG), the Toyota RAV4 EV, and Freightliner's Custom Chassis Electric Van. Vertical integration is rare in the automotive industry, where companies typically outsource 80% of components to suppliers,[128] and focus on engine manufacturing and final assembly.[129][130]

The Tesla Patent Wall at its headquarters was removed after the company announced its patents are part of the open source movement.[131]

Tesla's sales strategy is to sell its vehicles online and in company-owned showrooms rather than through a conventional dealer network.[132][133]

Tesla's technology strategy focuses on pure-electric propulsion technology, and transferring other approaches from the technology industry to transportation, such as online software updates.[134] Tesla allows its technology patents to be used by anyone in good faith.[135] Licensing agreements include provisions whereby the recipient agrees not to file patent suits against Tesla, or to copy its designs directly.[136] Tesla retained control of its other intellectual property, such as trademarks and trade secrets to prevent direct copying of its technology.[137]

Tesla Human Resources VP Arnnon Geshuri committed to bringing manufacturing jobs "back to California".[138][139] In 2015, Geshuri led a hiring surge 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."[140] Geshuri emphasizes hiring veterans, saying "Veterans are a great source of talent for Tesla, and we're going after it."[139][141][142]

Sales[edit]

Tesla's global sales totaled close to 500,000 units by November 2018, representing about 20% of all the all-electric cars on the world's roads, according to Navigant Research.[143] Its top selling car is the Model S, with global sales of 250,000 units between June 2012 and September 2018,[114][115][117][144] followed by the Model X with 106,689 units sold between September 2015 and September 2018.[108][109][111][112][114][115][117][145] Model 3 deliveries passed 100,000 units in October 2018.[146] The now-retired Roadster sold about 2,450 units.[147] In July 2017, Tesla said their vehicles had traveled 5 billion miles (8 billion km).[148]

Foreseeing Germany as its second market after the U.S. (and the largest in Europe), in 2016 Tesla stated the Dutch (Dienst Wegverkeer) RDW-issued Whole Vehicle Type Approval (WVTA) should be accepted as a legal compliance document, with no need to seek specific national type of approvals in EU member states.[149]

In 2016 BYD Auto was the world's top selling plug-in car manufacturer with 101,183 units sold, followed by Tesla with 76,243.[145][150] However, Tesla revenues ranked ahead with US$6.35 billion, while BYD notched US$3.88 billion.[151] Also in 2016, Tesla sold US$1 billion worth of cars in China, the world's largest market for electric vehicles, and in October of the following year it reached an agreement with the Chinese government to build a factory in Shanghai.[152]

As of October 2016, Tesla operated about 260 galleries or retail locations in the United States.[153] In June 2016, Tesla opened its first store-within-a-store: a small outpost within the Nordstrom's department store at The Grove shopping mall in Los Angeles.[154] In 2017, Tesla opened retail locations in Dubai and South Korea.[155]

In August 2015, Tesla launched a revamp of its stores to include interactive displays focused on safety, autopilot, charging network and motors.[156] In 2017 Tesla had a US$52 million marketing budget and used a referral program and word of mouth to attract buyers.[157][158]

US dealership disputes[edit]

Tesla gallery in Austin, Texas

Tesla operates stores and galleries[159][160]—usually located in shopping malls—in many U.S. states. However, customers buy vehicles only from the Tesla website.[161][162][163][164] The stores serve as showrooms that allow people to learn about the company and its vehicles. Some galleries are located in states with restrictive dealer protection laws that prohibit 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 global vehicle marketplace. Tesla is the only automaker that sells cars directly to consumers; all others use independently owned dealerships,[165][166] although many provide online configuration and financing.[167][168][169] 48 states have laws that limit or ban manufacturers from selling vehicles directly to consumers,[170][171][172] and although Tesla has no independent dealerships, dealership associations in multiple states have filed lawsuits over Tesla's sales practices.

Countries other than U.S. do not protect dealers. The Federal Trade Commission recommends allowing direct manufacturer sales,[173][174] which analysts believe would save consumers 8% on average.[175][176]

Used vehicles[edit]

Under a buyback program called the Resale Value Guarantee available in 37 U.S. states, a Tesla Model S sold before July 1, 2016 included the right to return it after three years with reimbursement of 43% to 50% of its initial price. This reimbursement matched the trade-in values of competitive German luxury cars of that age. In addition to maintaining the resale value, Tesla hoped 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 U.S. is about triple that on new cars, and Tesla's direct sales would allow it capture resale profits.[177] Tesla ended the program in 2016, although they retained the Residual Value Guarantee on leased vehicles.[178][179]

In May 2015, Tesla started selling refurbished Model S cars in the U.S.[180] and within a month sold 1,600 cars.[181] As of July 2017, over 80 used Model S and Model X cars were for sale, with either a four-year, 50,000-mile warranty[182] or a two-year, 100,000-mile warranty for vehicles above 50,000 miles.[183][184] As of September 2015, similar programs existed in Canada,[185] Austria,[186] Belgium,[187] Denmark,[188] France,[189] Germany,[190] Britain,[191] Netherlands,[192] Norway,[193] Sweden[194] and Switzerland.[195]

Technology[edit]

As a vertically-integrated manufacturer, Tesla has had to master multiple technology domains, including batteries, electric motors, sensors and artificial intelligence.

Batteries[edit]

Tesla Supercharger in West Hartford, Connecticut

Unlike other automakers, Tesla does not use individual large battery cells, but thousands of small, cylindrical, lithium-ion commodity cells like those used in consumer electronics. 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.[196] Panasonic is the sole supplier of the cells for Model S, Model X, and Model 3 and cooperates with Tesla in the Gigafactory 1's '21–70' cells.[197]

In February 2016, Tesla battery costs were estimated at US$200 per kWh.[129] Tesla indicated later in 2016 that their batteries cost less than $190/kWh.[198] Still later that year Argonne Labs estimated $163/kWh at a production rate of 500,000 packs per year.[199][200]

The batteries are placed under the vehicle floor. This saves interior and trunk space but increases risk of battery damage by debris or impact. The Model S has 0.25 in (6.4 mm) aluminum-alloy armor plate.[201] CTO Straubel expected batteries to last 10–15 years,[202] and discounts using electric cars to charge the grid (V2G) because the related battery wear outweighs economic benefit. He also prefers recycling over re-use for grid once they reach the end of their useful life for vehicles.[203][204] Since 2008, Tesla has worked with ToxCo/Kinsbursky to recycle worn out RoHS batteries, which will be an integral part of GigaFactory.[205][206][207]

Motors[edit]

Tesla makes two kinds of electric motors. A three-phase four-pole AC induction motor with a copper rotor[208] (by which the Tesla logo is inspired) is used in the Model S and Model X, and permanent magnet motors are used in the Model 3 and Semi. Motors for the Model S and Model X are made at Tesla Factory, while motors for Model 3 are made at Gigafactory 1.

Autopilot[edit]

Tesla Autopilot provides semi-autonomous driver assist beginning in September 2014. Tesla replaced its sensors and software in 2016 (Hardware version 2, or "HW2"). As of 2017, Autopilot included adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, emergency braking, Autosteer (semi-automated steering), Autopark (parallel and perpendicular parking) and Summon (recalling the vehicle from a parking place).[209][210] HW2 includes eight cameras and twelve ultrasonic sensors, in addition to forward-facing radar.[211] HW2.5 was released in mid-2017 that upgraded HW2 with a second GPU and, for the Model 3 only, a driver-facing camera.[212]

At the end of 2016, Tesla expected to demonstrate full autonomy by the end of 2017.[213][214] In April 2017 Musk predicted that in around two years drivers would be able to sleep in their vehicle.[215]

Glass[edit]

In November 2016, the company announced the Tesla glass technology group. The group produced the roof glass for the Tesla Model 3 and for use in SolarCity roof tiles announced in October 2016.[216] The tiles contain an embedded solar collector, and are one-third lighter than standard roof tiles.[217]

Vehicle models[edit]

Comparison of EPA-rated range for model year 2016 and 2017 electric cars rated up until July 2017. Tesla vehicles shown correspond to the variants with the longest and shortest range for each model (S, X and 3).[218][219]

As of December 2017, Tesla offers three car models: the Model S, Model X and Model 3. The firm's first vehicle, the first-generation Tesla Roadster is no longer sold.

Model S[edit]

Model S deliveries began on June 22, 2012.[37] The first delivery in Europe took place in August 2013.[220] Deliveries in China began in April 2014.[221] First deliveries of the right-hand-drive model destined for the UK, Australia, Hong Kong and Japan came in 2014.[222] As of June 2018, the Model S has three base configurations: the 75D, 100D and P100D with EPA ranges of 259, 335, and 315 miles respectively.[223]

Norway is the Model S largest overseas market due to the country's comprehensive incentives for the adoption of pure electric cars.

With an estimated 50,931 units sold in 2016, the Model S ranked as the world's bestselling plug-in car for the second year in a row.[145][150] As of September 2018, the Model S, with global sales of 250,000 units, ranks as the world's second best selling plug-in electric car in history after the Nissan Leaf (over 350,000).[114][115][117][144][224]

The United States is the world's leading Model S market with an estimated 136,542 units sold through September 2018.[225] Norway ranked as the Model S largest overseas market as of November 2016,[226] with 11,802 new units registered.[227][228][229] 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.[230][231][232]

In May 2010 Tesla purchased a stake in what would become the Tesla Factory in Fremont, California, for US$42 million,[32][233][234] and opened the facility in October 2010.[233][235][236] For the European market, a final assembly plant and European Distribution Center are part of the Tesla facilities in Tilburg, Netherlands. Cars are built and tested in Fremont; then the battery pack, the electric motor and parts are disassembled and shipped separately to Tilburg, where they are reassembled.[237]

Among other awards, the Model S won the 2013 "Motor Trend Car of the Year",[238] the 2013 "World Green Car",[239] Automobile Magazine's 2013 "Car of the Year",[240] and Time Magazine Best 25 Inventions of the Year 2012 award.[241]

Model X[edit]

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

The Tesla Model X is a full-size crossover SUV with a lightweight aluminum body.[242] Model X deliveries started in September 2015.[45] It is offered in 5-, 6- and 7-passenger configurations. Notably, the passenger doors are articulating "falcon-wing" designs that open vertically.

Production was rescheduled several times, from 2013 to late 2014,[243] to the second quarter of 2015,[244] to the third quarter of 2015.[245] In August 2015, user groups estimated around 30,000 X pre-orders, compared to 12,000 for the S.[246]

Deliveries of the Model X Signature series began on September 29, 2015. Model X sales totaled 2,400 units during the first quarter of 2016, rising to 4,638 in the second quarter of 2016. Global deliveries totaled 25,312 units in 2016,[145] and 46,535 in 2017.[108][109][111][112][145]

In September 2016, the Model X ranked as the top selling plug-in electric car in Norway.[247][248] Previously, the Model S had been the top selling new car four times.[247] Cumulative sales since inception totaled 106,689 units through September 2018.[108][109][111][112][114][115][117][145] The United States is its main market with an estimated 57,327 units sold through September 2018.[225]

Model 3[edit]

Tesla Model 3 production model.

The Model 3 (originally stylized as "☰") is Tesla's third-generation car.[123] The car was originally intended to be called the Model E, but after a lawsuit from Ford that holds the trademark on "Model E",[249] Musk announced on July 16, 2014 that the car would be called "Model 3" instead. The standard Model 3 delivers an EPA-rated all-electric range of 220 miles (350 km) and the long range model delivers 310 miles (500 km).[219]

On March 31, 2016, Tesla unveiled the car.[250] Potential customers began to reserve spots on March 31 with a refundable deposit.[251] Tens of thousands were reported waiting to reserve their spot.[252] As of April 7, 2016, one week after the unveiling, Tesla reported over 325,000 reservations,[253][254] representing sales of over US$14 billion.[64] As of July 2017, Tesla reported about 500,000 reservations.[255] Bloomberg News claimed "the Model 3's unveiling was unique in the 100-year history of the mass-market automobile." Bloomberg compared it to the 1955 Citroën DS that took in 80,000 deposits over 10-days at the Paris Auto Show.[256]

First production Tesla Model 3 cars ready for the delivery event on July 28, 2017.

Tesla expected to invest between US$2 billion and US$2.5 billion in capital expenditures to support Model 3 production.[107] Limited vehicle production began in July 2017.[107] The first 30 units were delivered at a special event on July 28, 2017.[219] Customer deliveries totaled 1,764 units in the U.S. in 2017.[96][113] In June 2018 production reached 5,000 per week.[257] Since January 2018, the Model 3 has remained the top-selling plug-in passenger car in the U.S. each month, with an estimated 78,132 units delivered through September 2018.[225] During the first half of 2018, the Model 3 was also the top selling alternative powertrain vehicle in California with 12,674 units, followed by the Toyota Prius coventional hybrid (10,043).[258]

In August 2018, the Model 3 surpassed the Nissan Leaf as world's best selling plug-in car during 2018, with a record of about 17,895 units delivered, a monthly sales record for plug-in cars previously held by the BAIC EC-Series.[259] Global Model 3 sales passed the 100,000 unit milestone in October 2018.[146]

2020 Roadster[edit]

Tesla Roadster 2020 prototype at the launch event in November 2017.

Through a surprise reveal at the end of the event that introduced the Semi on November 16, 2017, Tesla unveiled the 2020 Roadster. Musk said that the new model will have a range of 620 mi (1,000 km) on the 200 kWh battery pack and will achieve 0–60 mph in 1.9 seconds; it also will achieve 0–100 mph in 4.2 seconds,[260] and the top speed will be over 250 mph (400 km/h). The vehicle will have three electric motors allowing for all-wheel drive, and torque vectoring during cornering.[261]

At the time, the base price was set at US$200,000 while the first 1,000 units, the Founder's series, would sell for US$250,000.[261] Reservations required a deposit of US$50,000, and those who ordered the Founder's series paid the US$250,000 in full upon ordering. Those who made a reservation at the event were allowed a test drive with a driver in the prototype.[262]

Tesla Semi[edit]

The Tesla Semi is an all-electric Class 8 semi-trailer truck first mentioned in the 2016 Tesla Master plan.[263] Production is slated to begin in 2019.

The vehicle's official announcement was at a November 16, 2017 press conference where two prototypes were shown. Musk confirmed that the range would be 500 miles and that the zero to 60 mph time would be 5 seconds versus 15 seconds for a similar truck with a diesel engine.[264] The Semi will be powered by four electric motors of the type used in the Tesla Model 3 and will include an extensive set of hardware sensors to enable it to stay in its own lane, a safe distance away from other vehicles, and later, when software and regulatory conditions allow, provide autonomous operation on highways.[265] Musk also announced that the company would be involved in installing a solar-powered global network of the Tesla Megacharger devices to make the Semi more attractive to potential long-haul customers. A 30-minute charge would provide 400 miles of range.[266][267]

Model Y[edit]

In October 2015, Musk described a future "Model Y" that would be a full-sized SUV aimed for families.[268] Tesla had trademarked the name "Model Y" in 2013.[269] In August 2017, Tesla announced that the Model Y would use the Model 3 platform.[270]

In February 2018, Tesla announced that they would unveil Model Y production plans within the next 3–6 months[271] and posted open positions for Model Y production and design. The job description on the Tesla website states: "The new Programs Engineering, Design Engineer is responsible for designing, developing, and delivering prototype level components and systems for the Tesla Model Y as well as future Tesla product programs."[272] In May 2018, Musk said that the Model Y will be built on a platform that shares many components with the Model 3, and that the Model Y will be in production at the earliest in early 2020.[273] Musk revealed that the Model Y will be unveiled in March 2019.[274]

Planned models[edit]

In 2016, Musk indicated he hoped to one day produce a car cheaper than the Model 3:[275][276]

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 "SEX", but Ford owns the trademark to "Model E",[277] so settled for "S3XY" by making the Model Y.[278]

On July 20, 2016, Musk detailed his new master plan for Tesla. It includes more affordable cars produced in higher volume, solar-power roofs, mid-size vehicles, SUVs and pickup trucks, as well as the refinement of autonomous vehicles and the creation of a sharing economy, in which cars can be active while the owner is not using them.[279] A Tesla Minibus would be built on the Model X platform.[280] In May 2017, Musk indicated that he might favor a 10–12-passenger version of the Model X over a dedicated minibus design.[281]

At the company's annual shareholder meeting in June 2018, Musk revealed Tesla's intention to enter a new market segment, offering a compact hatchback in "less than five years".[282][283] He provided no details, and dodged a question about also producing a subcompact. Musk also put to rest hopes for a Tesla motorcycle, saying "we’re not going to do motorcycles".[284]

Battery products[edit]

In April 2015, the company unveiled its Powerwall home and Powerpack industrial battery packs,[285][286][287] and quickly received orders valued at US$800 million.[288] The two models included a 7 kilowatt-hour (kWh) wall-mounted unit and 10 kWh unit. The company announced larger-scale configurations for industrial users in units of 100 kWh. The company planned to open source its patents for the entire range.

Initial cells were made by Panasonic. When production shifted to Gigafactory 1,[289] Tesla expected costs to drop by 30%.[285]

In September 2016, Tesla announced it had been chosen "through a competitive process" to supply Southern California Edison (SCE) with 20 MW power (and 80 MWh energy) of battery storage. In May, regulators ordered SCE to invest in utility-scale battery systems after natural gas provider Southern California Gas leaked 1.6 million pounds (730 t) of methane into the atmosphere when a well ruptured at its Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility.[290]

In February 2017, Musk announced plans to build three additional Gigafactories to increase its battery manufacturing.[291]

After Puerto Rico faced a hurricane, Elon Musk offered to work with Puerto Rico's government in rebuilding its solar energy grid. In October 2017, Tesla brought 700 solar panels to the "Hospital del Niño," where the batteries helped bring care back to 3,000 patients who needed constant care.[292]

Charging[edit]

Supercharger network[edit]

Tesla Model S charging at a Supercharger station in Newark, Delaware
Tesla superchargers in Toronto, Canada.
Tesla destination charger in North America

In 2012, Tesla began building a network of 480-volt fast-charging Supercharger stations. As of December 2018, there are 1,375 Supercharger stations operated globally with 11,414 superchargers.[293] The Supercharger is a proprietary direct current (DC) technology that provides up to 120 kW of power, a full charge in around 75 minutes.[293] Tesla cars can recommend the fastest route for long-distance travel, incorporating possible charging delays.[294]

All Tesla cars come standard with Supercharging hardware. Model S and X cars ordered after January 15, 2017 get 400 kWh of free Supercharging credits, which provides a range of roughly 1,600 kilometres or 1,000 miles per year. Cars purchased before that date get free supercharging.[295]

In December 2016, after a complaint sent to Musk via Twitter about abuse, Tesla announced that it will start charging an "idle" fee for vehicles that continue to occupy charging stations after they are fully charged.[296][297]

Destination charging location network[edit]

In 2014, Tesla discreetly launched the "Destination Charging Location" Network by providing chargers to hotels, restaurants, shopping centers, resorts and other full service stations to provide on-site vehicle charging at twice the power of a typical charging location.[298][299][300] On April 25, 2016, Tesla launched European destination charging, with 150 locations and more to be added later.[301] Chargers are installed free of charge by Tesla-certified contractors. All installed chargers appear in the in-car navigation system.[302]

Facilities[edit]

In addition to its corporate headquarters, the company operates multiple large factories for making vehicles and their components. The company operates[303] showrooms and galleries around the world.[304]

United States[edit]

New Tesla Model S cars at the Tesla Factory in 2012

Tesla was founded in San Carlos, California.[305] Tesla's first retail stores were in Los Angeles,[306] in Menlo Park, California[307] and in Manhattan's Chelsea art district, followed by others in major US cities.[132] In 2010, Tesla moved its corporate headquarters and opened a powertrain development facility in Palo Alto.[308]

Factories[edit]

Tesla's first assembly plant occupies the former NUMMI plant in Fremont, California.[309][310] It is known as the Tesla Factory.[311] As of 2016, the plant was not highly automated—it 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.[312] The 370-acre (16,000,000 sq ft; 1,500,000 m2) site includes a 5,500,000-square-foot (510,000 m2) building complex.[313]

In 2015, Tesla acquired Riviera Tool & Die (with 100 employees in Michigan), one of its suppliers of stamping items.[314][315] In 2017, Tesla acquired Perbix Machine Company, a manufacturer of automated manufacturing equipment, that has been an equipment supplier for over three years.[316]

Tesla occupies a second factory in Fremont. The building is more than 500,000 sq ft (46,500 m2). The location is next to a SolarCity facility, a few miles from the original Fremont plant.[317]

Gigafactory 1[edit]

Gigafactory 1 is located outside Reno, Nevada. As of January 2017, it occupied 1.9 million sq ft (180,000 m2) with 4.9 million sq ft (460,000 m2) of usable area across several floors.[318]

It produces Powerwalls and Powerpacks[319][320] as well as battery cells[321] in partnership with Panasonic. It also produces Model 3 battery packs and drivetrains.[322]

The factory received substantial subsidies from local and state government.[323]

In August 2018, Tesla had a whistleblower problem. Karl Hansen was a former member of the company's security team. He filed a tip with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In the tip, he alleged that Tesla suppressed an internal investigation into various criminal activities at the Nevada Gigafactory. Hansen said that the company refused to tell the DEA about several employees who were allegedly moving cocaine and crystal methamphetamine on behalf of a Mexican drug cartel. He also said that the company tried to get him to not report a $37 million theft of raw materials. Additionally, he said the company fired an employee who reported the theft for the reason that the employee was "not a Tesla team player."[324]

Gigafactory 2[edit]

The Gigafactory 2 is located in Buffalo, New York on the site of a former Republic Steel plant. It is operated by Tesla's SolarCity unit. The factory is a $750 million, 1.2 million square foot facility that directly employs 500 workers. Tesla partners with Panasonic to assemble photovoltaic panel modules, with plans to assemble full panels and solar roofs in 2018. Tesla received incentives to locate the factory in Buffalo through the Buffalo Billion program.[325][326][327][328] As of August 2017, the factory added production of tiles for the Tesla Solar Roof.[329] In January 2018, Tesla announced, after testing on employees' roofs, that it would begin installing the Tesla Solar Roof on commercial customers' homes "within the next few months".[330]

Canada[edit]

Tesla store in Toronto.

Tesla's first "new design" store opened on November 16, 2012 in the Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto, Ontario. As of May 2017, eight Tesla stores/galleries operated in Montreal, Quebec City, Calgary, Toronto and in Vancouver.[331]

Europe[edit]

Tesla showroom in Munich, Germany

Tesla opened its first European store in June 2009 in London.[332][333] Tesla's European headquarters are in Amsterdam.[334] A 62,000 sq ft (5,800 m2) European service center operates in Tilburg, Netherlands along with a 77,650 m2 (835,800 sq ft) assembly facility that adds drivetrain, battery and software to the (imported) car body to reduce EU import tax,[335][336][337] Musk confirmed in June 2014[338] and November 2016 its long-term plans to build a car and battery gigafactory in Europe,[339] which several countries have campaigned to host.[340]

In late 2016, Tesla acquired German engineering firm Grohmann Engineering in Prüm as a new division dedicated to helping Tesla increase the automation and effectiveness of its manufacturing process.[341] After winding down existing contracts with other auto manufacturers, Grohmann works exclusively on Tesla projects.[342]

As of February 2018, Tesla is building a small research and development office in Athens, Greece.[343][344]

In July 2018, it was reported that Tesla was exploring building its first major European factory in Germany or the Netherlands.[345]

Asia[edit]

Tesla Motor's Japanese showroom in Aoyama, Tokyo, which was the first showroom opened in the country

Tesla opened its first Japanese showroom in Aoyama, Japan, in October 2010.[346]

Showrooms and service centers operate in Hong Kong,[347] Beijing and Shanghai.[348]

It also opened two showrooms in March 2017[349] and a service center in South Korea in late 2017.[citation needed]

In July 2018, Tesla has signed an agreement with Chinese authorities to build a factory in Shanghai, China and will be Tesla's first Gigafactory outside of the United States.[350]

Australia[edit]

Tesla opened a showroom in Sydney in 2010.[351][352] followed by a showroom and service center in Melbourne in 2015.[353]

In July 2017, Tesla won a contract to install the world's biggest grid-scale battery in South Australia by promising installation within 100 days.[354] The Hornsdale Power Reserve with total capacity of 100 megawatts was connected to the grid on December 1, 2017.

Partners[edit]

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 with Panasonic as a partner in battery and solar panel research and development. The company supplies battery packs for Freightliner Trucks' Custom Chassis electric van.[355]

Daimler AG[edit]

Starting in late 2007, Daimler AG and Tesla began working together. On May 19, 2009, Daimler bought a stake of less than 10% in Tesla for a reported US$50 million.[31][356] As part of the collaboration, Herbert Kohler, Vice-President of E-Drive and Future Mobility at Daimler, took a Tesla board seat.[357] On July 13, 2009, Daimler AG sold 40% of its May acquisition to Aabar Investments PJSC. Aabar is an Abu Dhabi government investment vehicle.[358][359] In October 2014, Daimler sold its remaining holding.[360]

Mercedes-Benz A-Class[edit]

The Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive uses a battery pack developed by Tesla.[361]

Tesla builds electric-powertrain components for the Mercedes-Benz A-Class E-Cell, an electric car with a range of 120 mi (200 km) and 214 ft⋅lbf (290 N⋅m) of torque. The 36 kWh battery contains approximately 4,000 lithium-ion cells.[362] 500 cars would be built for trial in Europe beginning in September 2011.[363][364]

Mercedes-Benz B-Class ED[edit]

The electric motor was rated 136 PS (100 kW; 134 hp) and 310 N⋅m (229 lb⋅ft), with a 36 kWh battery. The vehicle has a driving range of 200 km (124 mi) with a top speed of 150 km/h (93 mph).[365]

Smart cars[edit]

Smart ED2s have a 14 kilowatt-hours (50 MJ) lithium-ion battery and a powertrain from Tesla.[366]

Toyota[edit]

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[367] in Tesla and Tesla's US$42 million purchase of a portion of the former NUMMI factory.[32][233][235][368] Tesla cooperated on the development of electric vehicles, parts, and production system and engineering support.

On June 5, 2017, Toyota announced that it had sold all of its shares in Tesla and halted co-operation, as Toyota created their own electric car division.[369]

Toyota RAV4 EV[edit]

Tesla and Toyota announced in July 2010 an agreement to develop a second generation of the compact Toyota RAV4 EV.[370] 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.[371][372] 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 Roadster.[373][374]

The RAV4 EV had a limited production run which resulted in just under 3,000 vehicles being produced.[375] The RAV4 EV hasn't been on the market since 2014 and there aren't any known plans to revive the model in the near term.[376]

Freightliner electric van[edit]

The company supplies battery packs for Freightliner Trucks' Custom Chassis electric van.[355]

Panasonic[edit]

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-ku, Osaka, 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 would be used for Tesla's "current and next-generation EV battery pack."[377] The partnership was part of Panasonic's US$1 billion investment over three years in facilities for lithium-ion cell research, development and production.[378]

Beginning in 2010 Panasonic invested US$30 million for a multi-year collaboration on next generation cells designed specifically for electric vehicles.[379]

In July 2014, Panasonic reached a basic agreement with Tesla to participate in Gigafactory 1.[380]

Tesla and Panasonic also collaborate on the manufacturing and production of photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules in Buffalo, New York.[329][381]

Airbnb[edit]

In August 2015, Tesla partnered with Airbnb to provide destination chargers at certain host houses, initially in California.[382]

Liberty Mutual[edit]

Tesla partnered with Liberty Mutual Insurance Company to offer an auto-insurance plan designed specifically for its electric cars. The plan was made available to US customers In October 2017.[383]

Lawsuits and controversies[edit]

Fisker Automotive[edit]

On April 14, 2008, Tesla 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. Tesla had hired Fisker Coachbuild to design the WhiteStar sedan, but rejected the design that Musk considered "substandard".[384][385] 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.[386]

Founder dispute[edit]

The company founding was the subject of a lawsuit that was later dropped after an out-of-court settlement.[387][388] On May 26, 2009, Eberhard filed suit against Tesla and Musk for slander, libel and breach of contract.[389] Musk wrote a lengthy blog post that included original source documents, including emails between senior executives and other artifacts attempting to demonstrate that Eberhard was fired by Tesla's unanimous board of directors.[126] A judge struck down Eberhard's claim that he was one of only two company founders.[390] 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."[391] Eberhard withdrew the case[392] and the parties reached a final settlement. One public provision said that the parties will consider Eberhard, Musk, Straubel, Tarpenning and Wright to be the five co-founders. Eberhard 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."[393]

Ecotricity[edit]

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 and tried to "blacken Ecotricity's name with politicians and the media".[394] Ecotricity replied by taking an injunction against them.[395][396] The dispute was resolved out of court.[397]

Top Gear review[edit]

Tesla unsuccessfully sued British television show Top Gear for its 2008 review of the Tesla Roadster (2008) in which Jeremy Clarkson could be seen driving one around the Top Gear test track, complaining about a range of only 55 mi (89 km) (a figure that was provided to Top Gear by Tesla itself[398]), 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 said that neither car ever dropped below 25% charge, and that the scene was staged.[399][400][401][402] The High Court in London rejected Tesla's libel claim.[403] The falsehood claims were later struck out.[404] The Top Gear website posted a favorable review of the Model S in 2015[405] and featured the Model X favorably in 2016.[406]

New York Times test drive[edit]

In early 2013, Tesla approached the New York Times to publish a story "Focused on future advancements in our Supercharger technology".[407] In February 2013, the Times published an account on the newly installed Supercharger network on freeway between Boston and New York City. 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. At one point the vehicle died completely and needed to be towed to a charging station.[408]

After the story was published, Tesla stock dipped 3%.[409] Three days later, Musk responded with a series of tweets, calling the article "fake",[410] and followed up with a lengthy blog post disputing several of the article's claims. 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 had fabricated much of the story.[407]

[...] 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".[410] Author John Broder quickly issued a rebuttal in which he clarified and rejected many of the accusations made by Musk.[411]

[...] 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

During further investigation by the media, Musk said "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."[412] In his follow-up blog post, Broder said "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."[413] No legal action was pursued.

Singapore tax surcharge[edit]

In early March 2016, a report by Stuff magazine said 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 Wh/km (0.715 kW⋅h/mi),[414][415] which was greater than the 236 watt-hours per kilometre (0.38 kW⋅h/mi) reported by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)[416] and the 181 watt-hours per kilometre (0.291 kW⋅h/mi) reported by Tesla.[417] 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.[418] 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",[419] however Tesla 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.[417]

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 review the test,[420] and a Tesla statement indicated that the discussions were "positive" and that they were confident of a quick resolution.[417]

SEC investigations[edit]

The July 11, 2016 Wall Street Journal reported that Tesla was 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 shares in May 2016.[421] A separate SEC investigation closed "without further action" in October 2016 about Tesla's use of non-GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) reporting; Tesla switched to GAAP-reporting in October 2016.[422]

SolarCity acquisition shareholder litigation[edit]

In September and October 2016, seven Delaware lawsuits were filed by Tesla stockholders seeking to block the proposed SolarCity acquisition. In October 2016, the Court consolidated the actions and appointed a lead plaintiff. The plaintiffs alleged, 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.[423] The acquisition was approved by Tesla and SolarCity's stockholders on November 17, 2016[424] and the merger closed on November 21, 2016.

Autopilot 2 class-action lawsuit[edit]

On April 19, 2017, Tesla owners filed a class-action lawsuit due to Tesla exaggerating the capabilities of its Autopilot 2 to consumers.[425] The lawsuit claimed that "buyers of the affected vehicles have become beta testers of half-baked software that renders Tesla vehicles dangerous if engaged"[426] Tesla attacked the lawsuit as a "disingenuous attempt to secure attorney's fees posing as a legitimate legal action".[427]

Labor practices[edit]

On April 19, 2017, Tesla factory workers filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging that Tesla uses "illegal surveillance, coercion, intimidation and prevention of worker communications [...] in an effort to prevent or otherwise hinder unionization of the Fremont factory."[428][429]

According to CNBC, "the United Automobile Workers (UAW) union filed four separate charges with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that [Tesla] has illegally surveilled and coerced workers attempting to distribute information about the union drive."[430] On February 10, 2017, three Tesla employees allegedly were passing out literature to initiate organizing union efforts. The literature pointed to working conditions, the company's confidentiality agreement and employee rights under the National Labor Relations Act. The UAW's charges allege that Tesla illegally told employees that they could not pass out any literature unless it was approved by the company.[430]

In an attempt to unionize Tesla's Fremont plant, the UAW has paid organizers on the ground since 2016. The UAW is renting from a Fremont landlord, Sreenivasa Munukutla, who has been accused of wage and labor violations.[431] The UAW continued to lease from Munukutla even as the Department of Labor investigation was ongoing.[431]

The Fremont plant has been unionized in the past, both when owned by General Motors (GM), and later by the NUMMI partnership of GM and Toyota. While under UAW oversight, the plant closed once in 1982 (GM) and again in 2010 (NUMMI partnership) .[432][433]

In May 2018, the United Auto Workers union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, seeking a federal investigation against Tesla for CEO Elon Musk's tweet apparently threatening worker stock options if they joined a union. Tesla responded that other car makers don't offer such stock options to union workers.[434][435] Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison chastised Musk for "threats" of unlawful retaliation and presented a list of questions on union activities and worker safety records, asking for a response by June 15.[436]

Working conditions and injury policies[edit]

Employees describe working at Tesla as stressful and meaningful. In 2016, Tesla's employees averaged 30 years age, and 20% were female.[437]

On May 14, 2017, Tesla said that Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR, a measure of employee safety)[438] was higher for the previous years, and stated a TRIR of 4.6 for Q1 2017.[439] On May 18, 2017 The Guardian published a story about working conditions at Tesla Factory,[440] relayed by CNBC.[441]

Former and current Tesla employees publicly expressed concerns about worker treatment. Between 2014 and 2017, ambulances went to Tesla's Fremont, California factory over 100 times to provide emergency services to workers exhibiting symptoms including fainting, dizziness, abnormal breathing and chest pains resulting from the physically demanding tasks associated with their positions. At the end of that period, Tesla Factory employed over 10,000 workers.[440]

Working conditions are in part a result of the company's ambitious production figures. The 2018 goal is to manufacture 500,000 automobiles, a 495% increase from 2016.[relevant? ][440] Tesla has acknowledged that its recordable incident rate (TRIR), which measures work-related injuries and illnesses that have been reported to regulators, exceeded the industry average between 2013 and 2016.[439] Exact data was not released by Tesla over that period, because the company says the data is not representative of the factory's current operations.[440] In a statement, Tesla emphasized it is "building entirely new vehicles from the ground up, using entirely new technology, production, and manufacturing methods, and ramping them at high volume."[442]

Musk strongly defended Tesla's safety record and argued that the company had made significant improvement. In 2017, however, when The Guardian reached out to 15 current and/or former workers, each contradicted Musk's viewpoint. Jonathan Galescu, a production technician for the company, said, “I’ve seen people pass out, hit the floor like a pancake and smash their face open. They just send us to work around him while he’s still laying on the floor.”[440] In February 2017, Jose Moran, a Tesla worker, blogged about the company's practices of mandatory overtime, frequent worker injuries and low wages.[440] Both workers are involved with the UAW's current organizing campaign.[443][444]

Tesla's policies for dealing with injured employees were also criticized. In 2017, workers alleged that Tesla's policies got in the way of workers reporting injuries. At Tesla, workers who reported injuries were moved to lighter work and given access to supplemental insurance benefits. One injured worker reported that his pay went from $22 an hour to $10 an hour. To protect their incomes, many workers choose to work during their recovery from injury, in some cases inciting further damage and pain.[440]

In 2017, Tesla added extra shifts and safety teams to improve conditions. According to the company, "the average amount of hours worked by production team members has dropped to about 42 hours per week, and the level of overtime decreased by more than 60 percent" after improvements were made.[445] When CNBC requested comment about the issues, Tesla responded, “Tesla’s safety record is much better than the industry average, but it is not enough. Our goal is to have as close to zero injuries as humanly possible and to become the safest factory in the auto industry.”[441][439]

On May 24, 2017, California Worksafe responded to Tesla's TRIR numbers, showing higher rates (8.8) than industry average (6.7) for 2015.[446] OSHA reports that the incident rate at UAW-represented Ford plants has also exceeded the industry average in recent years.[447] In some cases, UAW-represented plants' incident rates were three or four times higher than the industry average.[447]

In April 2018, CIR's Reveal published an investigation concluding that Tesla under-counted worker injuries to make its safety record appear better. It included findings such as the factory floor not having have clearly marked pedestrian lanes and instead having lanes painted different shades of gray because Elon Musk does not like the color yellow. In addition, other safety signals (such as signs and warning beeps) were lowered in order to please Musk's esthetic preferences.[448] Susan Rigmaiden, former environmental compliance manager, commented: “If someone said, ‘Elon doesn’t like something,’ you were concerned because you could lose your job.”[448] Tesla called Reveal's investigation an "ideologically motivated attack by an extremist organization working directly with union supporters to create a calculated disinformation campaign against Tesla."[449] Reveal responded by publishing the details of their investigation, which included interviews of more than three dozen current and former employees and managers as well as the review of hundreds of pages of documents.[448] Additionally, many of the interviewed safety professionals had no involvement in a unionization effort.[448] Tesla made no further response.

Illegal workers suit[edit]

The Mercury News in 2016 investigated the use of foreign construction workers to build Tesla's paint shop at Tesla Factory. A whistleblower federal lawsuit was filed, which was unsealed in the summer of 2017. The suit alleged that Tesla and other major automakers such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Volkswagen illegally used foreign construction workers to build their U.S. factories. Court documents and the journalistic investigation showed that at least 140 foreign workers worked on the factory expansion, some of whom had questionable work visas, for as little as five dollars per hour. The workers came mainly from Eastern Europe on “suspect visas hired through subcontractors.”[450]

Ludicrous limited power output[edit]

Certain Tesla vehicles equipped with its Ludicrous performance mode had limited power output, as discovered by some Tesla owners in 2017. The power limits were connected to how frequently the drivers used Launch Mode; if a driver used it too much, the car's power output was restricted to prevent excessive wear and tear on components. Customers complained and the company removed the limiter.[451]

Software copyright infringement[edit]

In May 2018, it was reported that Tesla had for five[452] or six[453] years been using other people's copyrighted software unlawfully, specifically engaging in GPL violations. The Software Freedom Conservancy reportedly alerted Tesla to the issue repeatedly, but only in 2018 did Tesla begin to remedy its non-compliance with the software's license terms.[453][454][452]

Lawsuit alleging sabotage[edit]

On June 20, 2018, Tesla filed a civil lawsuit in Nevada against a former Tesla employee, who a few days before had been dismissed after allegedly confessing to hacking Tesla's Manufacturing Operating System and to transferring gigabytes of confidential, proprietary data to external, unknown entities.[455] By June 27, Tesla had been granted subpoenas compelling several companies that may be storing data for the former employee, including Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Dropbox to surrender any such data.[456] Also in late June, the ex-employee reacted by attempting to crowd-fund US$500,000 for his legal defense and counter-suit.[457] As of mid-August, Tripp had retained legal counsel, and had either taken down, on advice of his lawyer, or been hacked, on each of his social media accounts.[458]

Musk Twitter investigation[edit]

In September 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice began investigating Tesla based on a tweet sent out by Elon Musk. In the tweet, Musk stated that he was considering taking the company private, and that he had "funding secured" to complete the deal. DOJ investigators requested company documents in September related to Musk's announcement, and the company complied with the requests.[459] The Securities and Exchange Commission launched its own investigation into Tesla and Musk as well. Musk's announcement came as a surprise to shareholders, and consequently the company's stock price rose by almost 11 percent; 17 days later, Musk said the proposal was dead. The volatile stock price movement resulted in multiple shareholder lawsuits.[459]

According to multiple sources, Musk will step down as chairman within 45 days and will be replaced by an independent chairman; he will remain the CEO of the company. He and Tesla also agreed to pay $20 million each in fines that will be distributed to "harmed investors".[460][461]

Product issues[edit]

Recalls[edit]

As of March 2018, Tesla had issued six product recalls for the Model S, two for the Roadster, and two for the Model X.[462]

On April 20, 2017, Tesla issued a worldwide recall of 53,000 (~70%) of the 76,000 vehicles it sold in 2016 due to faulty parking brakes that could become stuck and "prevent the vehicles from moving."[463][464]

On March 29, 2018, Tesla issued a worldwide recall of 123,000 Model S cars built before April 2016 due to corrosion-susceptible power steering bolts that could fail and require the driver to use "increased force" to control the vehicle.[465]

Crashes and fires[edit]

On October 1, 2013, a Model S caught fire after the vehicle hit metal debris on a highway in Kent, Washington. Tesla 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."[466] 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 said that it would conduct its own investigation,[467] and as a result of these incidents, announced its decision to extend its current vehicle warranty to cover fire damage.[468]

On January 4, 2014, a Tesla Model S in Norway caught fire while charging at one of Tesla's supercharger stations and was completely destroyed. No one was injured.[469]

On March 28, 2014, NHTSA announced that it had closed the investigation into whether the Model S was prone to catch fire, after the automaker said it would provide more protection to its battery packs.[470] 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.[471]

A Model S driver died in a collision with a tractor-trailer on May 7, 2016, in Williston, Florida, while the vehicle was in autopilot mode. The driver is believed to be the first person to have died in a Tesla vehicle in autopilot mode.[472][473] The NHTSA investigated the accident and concluded: "A safety-related defect trend has not been identified at this time and further examination of this issue does not appear to be warranted."[474]

On May 8, 2018, two 18-year olds died in a fire in Fort Lauderdale, Florida that ensued after crashing a Tesla Model S into a wall. The car was limited to a top speed of 85 mph. The cause has not been identified yet.[475][476]

Maintenance costs, crash rates, and insurance costs[edit]

On June 4, 2017, the American Automobile Association raised insurance rates for Tesla owners following a report from the Highway Loss Data Institute. The report concluded that the Model S crashes 46% more often and is 50% more expensive to repair than comparable vehicles. Similarly, the Model X was concluded to crash 41% more often and to be 89% more expensive to repair than similar vehicles. As a result, AAA raised insurance rates on Tesla cars by 30%. Tesla said that the analysis is "severely flawed and not reflective of reality", however, Tesla failed to provide any contradictory numbers.[477] Shortly thereafter, Russ Rader, the spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, confirmed the AAA's analysis and that "Teslas get into a lot of crashes and are costly to repair afterward".[478][479] Tesla has not made further statements on this topic.

Delays[edit]

Tesla has been criticized for repeatedly overpromising and underdelivering. Delivery dates for new vehicles and new vehicle features 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 were solar-powered as of late 2014) also lagged projections.[480]

In early October 2017, Musk had predicted that Model 3 production would be up to 5,000 units per week by December.[481] A month later, he revised that target to "sometime in March" 2018 due in part to difficulties with robots on the assembly line, but primarily due to problems with the battery module.[77] An analyst with Cowan and Company, a public relations firm, made this comment: "Elon Musk needs to stop over promising and under delivering".[482]

On September 24, 2018, Musk revealed on Twitter that Tesla will be building its own car carriers as the company is facing challenges due to logistics. Tesla is running into an acute shortage of car carrier trailers leading to a delay in the delivery.[483] In mid-November, with end-of-year buyer tax credits expiring in a little more than six weeks, Musk announced that the company was aggressively ramping up delivery capabilities with trucking contracts and even outright purchase of some trucking firms to deliver as many cars as possible before the deadline.[484]

Hacking[edit]

In August 2015, two researchers said they were able to take control of a Tesla Model S by hacking into the car's entertainment system.[485] The hack required the researchers to physically access the car.[486] Tesla issued a security update for the Model S the day after the exploit was announced.[487]

In September 2016, researchers at Tencent's Keen Security Lab demonstrated a remote attack on a Tesla Model S and controlled the vehicle in both Parking and Driving Mode without physical access. They were able to compromise the automotive networking bus (CAN bus) when the vehicle's web browser was used while the vehicle was connected to a malicious Wi-Fi hotspot.[488] This was the first case of a remote control exploit demonstrated on a Tesla. The vulnerability was disclosed to Tesla under their bug bounty program and patched within 10 days, before the exploit was made public.[489] Tencent hacked the doors of a Model X in 2017.[490]

In January 2018, security researchers informed Tesla that an Amazon Web Services account of theirs could be accessed directly from the Internet and that the account had been exploited for cryptocurrency mining. Tesla reacted by securing the compromised system and by rewarding the security researchers financially via their bug bounty program and stated that the compromise did not violate customer privacy, nor vehicle safety or security.[491][492]

Servicing[edit]

Tesla offers service at their service centers, or if a center is not available, mobile technicians 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.[493] The first units for each new model revealed design and manufacturing flaws, including the Model S and the Model X.[494][495] As the Tesla vehicle fleet grew, limited service centers resulted in waiting periods for some owners.[496] Auto experts view the service delays as insignificant, as owners are more accepting of the challenges of servicing a new type of car.[496]

Tesla does not provide service manuals except in jurisdictions that required them to do so.[497]

At the June 2018 shareholder meeting, Elon Musk confirmed that Tesla will soon start to open its first body shops in the top ten U.S. metro areas, stocking some body parts, potentially allowing for same-day service.[498]

Lobbying activity[edit]

In June 2017, Tesla made a "last-minute push near the end of the Albany legislative session to expand its sales force in New York."[499] However, Tesla and the legislature got pushback from the auto dealers. A New York State Legislature bill (A.8248/S.6600) would allow Tesla to operate 20 sales locations in the state, up from its current 5. The dealers attacked the bill, arguing that it would hurt their business because Tesla does not sell through dealers. According to the New York Law Journal, "Tesla . . . has its own in-house lobbyists, according to disclosures filed with the state's lobbying entity."[499]

Board of directors[edit]

As of June 2018, the Tesla board of directors consists of:[500]

A group of investors asked Tesla in a 2017 public letter to add two new independent directors to its board “who do not have any ties with chief executive Elon Musk”.[501] The investors wrote that “five of six current non-executive directors have professional or personal ties to Mr. Musk that could put at risk their ability to exercise independent judgement.”[502] The letter called for a more independent board that could put a check on groupthink.[502] At first Musk responded on Twitter, writing that the investors "should buy Ford stock" because "their governance is amazing.”[502] Two days later, he promised he would add two independent board members.[503]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

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