Herein Lies The Story Of Launching And Building Tesla

AUG 7 2018 BY EVANNEX 10


2003 was the year when GM recalled their EV1 electric cars and destroyed them — at the same time Marc Tarpenning and Martin Eberhard were brainstorming about the possibility of bringing electric cars to the mainstream.

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Iqtidar Ali. The opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily our own at InsideEVs.

Tesla Founders Marc Tarpenning and Martin Eberhard

Above: Marc Tarpenning (left) and Martin Eberhard (right) with Tesla Roadster (Image: Astrum People)

Marc Tarpenning tells the story of conceptualizing and building Tesla Motors in a new video (below) published via Startup Grind. Tarpenning and Eberhard rented a small office in San Carlos, CA in 2003 and discussed the impact and opportunities EVs could create in the automotive market.

According to Marc Tarpenning, this was a time when global warming and clean tech initiatives weren’t as prominent in the public sphere — Tesla was one of the first companies to push for a greener future by undertaking this unique electric vehicle venture.

Also, this was a time when venture capitalists were mostly considering web-based business ideas as the most lucrative investing opportunities — getting VCs interested in an electric car company was a challenge at the time. However, Tesla was able to get some funding in early 2004 to launch their mission.

In response to a question about self-driving cars, Tarpenning replied that in those early Tesla years the concept of self-driving cars was not (yet) on their radar as they were deeply invested in creating the first production-ready electric sports car, the ‘Tesla Roadster’.

Above: Roadster being tested in 2010 (Flicker: Argonne National Laboratory)

Tarpenning also told a couple of stories from the early days of Tesla — at one time when they were stress-testing the lithium-ion battery packs in the back parking lot of the company, they heard an explosion and ran outside to check it out. They witnessed not only the battery pack that had disassembled but it also launched itself and landed on the roof burning — fortunately they had safety measures in place to handle the situation.

Another tale involved buying a Lotus Elise and taking out the engine and replacing it with an electric drivetrain, which made the car significantly faster (0 – 60 mph in around 4 seconds). The electric Lotus Elise was presented to a group of VCs on Sand Hill Road, CA. One of the VCs just disappeared with the car only to reveal later that he was happily drag racing another venture capitalist.

Tarpenning notes in the interview that it was relatively easy convincing Elon Musk as an investor to get involved with electric cars. It only took about 5 minutes to seal the deal and Musk quickly became the largest investor in Tesla Motors. Tarpenning thinks this was because Elon Musk was already building rockets at SpaceX and EVs may have appeared to be an easier engineering task to him.

When asked what it was like to work with Elon Musk, Tarpenning said that Musk is extremely smart but tends to micromanage things. For example, if you’re working on something and he comes up and asks pointed questions, you’d better have a good explanation of what you’re doing otherwise you’re in some hot water. Musk knew how to drill down and ask probing questions until you’ve met his exacting requirements.

Source: Startup Grind

Tarpenning also mentioned that he wouldn’t have left Tesla’s Board if Musk had taken the reins as CEO of the company 6-9 months earlier. Relatively soon after this transition, it turns out that Musk saved both Tesla and SpaceX in the global economic crisis of 2008.

In any event, with so many questions surrounding Model 3 pre-orders, an interesting fact (relayed by Tarpenning) was that a lot of first generation Roadster customers paid the full amount upfront and no one cancelled their reservation — these were the original investors, customers and early adopters who believed in Tesla’s mission to build a sustainable future.


Written by: Iqtidar Ali; Source: Startup Grind

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers, free of charge. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX. Check out the site here.

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10 Comments on "Herein Lies The Story Of Launching And Building Tesla"

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Really cool story. It’s refreshing to have examples like Tesla to remind us that disruption is still possible in this world of Good Old Boy cronyism.

Try getting money to start a new company, good luck with that.

Happens every day, that’s the reason VCs exist.

You mean thousands are rejected everyday.
Any VC will tell you they reject FAR more good plans than fund.

Article title: Herein Lies The Story Of Launching And Building Tesla

Soon to follow article title: Herein Lies the Story of The Fall of Shorter King Jim Chanos

Predictive future Chanos quote… post Fall of Chanos:

“…it was impossible to account for irrational investors continued support of Tesla… Tesla in a normal market would not at this point exist because they are by all traditional measure worthless… Tesla is not a leader…”

I wonder what Chanos’s excuses will be for his massive loss shorting Dunkin Donuts?

While on topic of Dunkin Donuts….

Reminder: Project Dunkin Chanos:

All Tesla owners and Tesla reservation holders….

Every Monday on way to work purchase a dozen Dunkin’ Donuts for the office coffee break-room in honor of Jim Chanos… each purchase hurts Jim where it counts… his Kynikos Associates fund’s reputation… which is heading towards WORTHLESS.

Can we PLEASE stop this obsession on this site with Chanos and short sellers? Believe it or not, there is no legal requirement that every single bloody article about Tesla and/or Musk include some form of victory laps around Chanos’ smoldering corpse.

@Lou Grinzo said: “…no legal requirement that every single bloody article about Tesla and/or Musk include some form of victory laps around Chanos’ smoldering corpse.”

Just some payback where due…

For a very long while every positive post about Tesla was constantly bombarded by the Chanos’s ant-Tesla wolfpack posting comments to discredit Tesla in an attempt to pull down public and investor opinion of Tesla for Chano’s own financial gain.

It’s OK to vent once or twice I guess; but at this point, you repetitive Chanos posts are just more noise.

Lou — Actually the legal requirement for mocking Chanos comes under binding case law under the 1963 US Supreme Court ruling for Rational Folks v. Dumbarsezz, where the required penalty for being a fool in public is mocking shame. The courts ruled that this penalty is to be dolled out in direct proportion to the Dumbarsezz’s original trolling.

In other words, if the trolls don’t come here and post, then there is no reason to mock them and the people they blindly parrot. If you don’t like it, take it up with the trolls.

And no, ignoring trolls doesn’t work. They simply respond to each other patting each other’s backsides for how good a job they do at parroting Chanos and others.

The text is misleading: it sounds like Marc was complaining about Elon micro-managing things — whereas watching the interview it’s clear that he was actually describing his propensity to drill down and question stuff as a *good* thing.

On a somewhat related note, other descriptions I’ve seen in the past suggested that Marc left Tesla because he was frustrated about Elon & Co. ousting Martin as CEO and installing Elon instead: but here he clearly says that he was actually frustrated with the interim CEOs that were in charge between Martin being removed and Elon being installed — that he thinks Elon rather should have taken over directly…