Electric vehicle startup Tesla has dealt with its share of hurdles. Most recently, estranged founder Martin Eberhard filed a 146-page complaint against the company, claiming that Tesla CEO Elon Musk libeled and slandered him, broke agreements over severance, stock options and the purchase of a Roadster vehicle, and caused him emotional distress. Perhaps most damningly, Eberhard wrote that Musk “has set out to rewrite history by falsely claiming that he was the founder or creator of Tesla Motors.” Not one to remain mum in the face of such allegations, Musk responded to the lawsuit in a lengthy blog post today.
Musk writes, among other things, that Eberhard’s portrayal of himself as the noble inventor usurped by the rich and powerful businessman is false, and that when Eberhard left Tesla, “most of the work that he had been paid to do had to be redone.” Tesla had to redesign, retool, or find new suppliers for the Roadster’s body, HVAC, motor, power electronics, transmission, and battery pack, leading to a production cost of $140 million that went above and beyond original plans to bring the Roadster to market for $25 million. Eberhard’s chosen body supplier, for example, supposedly designed incorrect body tooling and could only deliver one body per week to boot. As a result, Tesla had to find a new supplier and spend $5 million on new body tooling.
Musk’s diatribe isn’t limited to comments on the lawsuit, mentioning public accusations of Tesla’s vehicles being only for rich people. The entrepreneur defends his company’s strategy, claiming that “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.”
And in case anyone thinks that Musk has problems with the Chevy Volt or other plug-in hybrids, he’s cleared that up as well. Musk says, “Let me be clear that I wish the Volt and any other semi-electric or
electric cars well. Whether you care about national security, balance
of payments, the high long term cost of oil or the environment, the
answer is still that the car industry needs to make the transition and
sooner is better.” True enough. Now can everyone stop arguing and get back to saving us from our dependence on oil?