You may remember him from his suggestions to build a Mars colony or a hyperloop connecting New York and Washington, DC. Elon Musk is nearly synonymous with Tesla. Today’s story isn’t about Elon. Instead, it’s about an obscure man who was key to the company’s success. Name? Martin Eberhard. Martin, not Nikola, founded Tesla, and his story is the topic of today’s show.
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How can ebook readers become electric sports cars? Distinction. Like any affluent guy in his forties having a midlife crisis, Martin divorced in 2000 and decided he wanted a sports car. He couldn’t buy one of those rude gas guzzlers. He offered to his old buddy Marc that they build an electric sports car. They created Tesla in 2003 and developed the Roadster that year. Martin and Marc came up with the innovative idea of employing lithium-ion batteries instead of a combustion engine. Creating everything from scratch was impossible. Instead, they partnered with AC Propulsion and Lotus. AC Propulsion produced the tzero in 2004. It was electric and could go from 0 to 60 mph in 4 seconds, faster than any other #automobile at the time. Martin licensed AC Propulsion’s motor technology but lacked a vehicle to put it in. Then Lotus joined.
The Lotus Elise was tiny, fast, and attractive. Martin and Marc visited the Lotus stand at the Los Angeles Auto Show and harassed “a really lovely British guy” until they got an answer. Our friends across the pond say we’re incredibly nice….and where did we leave off? Tesla Motors’ development began when it obtained a functional car and cutting-edge technology. By mid-2004, the company was broke. Martin and Marc bootstrapped and received a few minor VC investments for the first year, but they needed considerably more to produce the Roadster. A carmaker having trouble getting off the ground? Unbelievable! #elonmusk, the myth, the mythos. Musk met with Martin and Marc after selling PayPal to eBay and invested $7.5 million in #tesla . Tesla’s renowned staff was still in command in 2008, despite Musk’s $70 million investment. Musk’s first funding helped Tesla produce its first prototype, a modified Lotus Elise using AC Propulsion technology, in November 2004. The ‘Mule’ surprised engineers with its perfect performance. Tesla finished creating the Roadster two years later. On July 19, 2006, Santa Monica showcased everyone’s work. Customers were willing to pay $100,000 for Tesla’s Roadster. 127 Roadsters were sold within two weeks of their availability.
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