Tesla, Inc. (formerly Tesla Motors, Inc.) is an American electric vehicle and clean energy company based in Palo Alto, California. Tesla's current products include electric cars, battery energy storage from home to grid scale, solar panels and solar roof tiles, as well as other related products and services.

Founded in July 2003 as Tesla Motors, the company's name is a tribute to inventor and electrical engineer Nikola Tesla. Elon Musk, who contributed most of the funding in the early days, has served as CEO since 2008. According to Musk, the purpose of Tesla is to help expedite the move to sustainable transport and energy, obtained through electric vehicles and solar power.[10][11]

Tesla ranked as the world's best-selling plug-in and battery electric passenger car manufacturer in 2019, with a market share of 17% of the plug-in segment and 23% of the battery electric segment. Tesla global vehicle sales were 499,550 units in 2020, a 35.8% increase over the previous year.[12] In 2020, the company surpassed the 1 million mark of electric cars produced.[13] The Model 3 ranks as the world's all-time best-selling plug-in electric car, with more than 500,000 delivered.[14] Through its subsidiary SolarCity, Tesla develops and is a major installer of solar photovoltaic systems in the United States. Tesla is also one of the largest global suppliers of battery energy storage systems, from home-scale to grid-scale. Tesla installed some of the largest battery storage plants in the world and supplied 1.65 GWh of battery storage in 2019.

Tesla has been the subject of numerous lawsuits and controversies, arising from the statements and the conduct of CEO Elon Musk, allegations of whistleblower retaliation, alleged worker rights violations, and allegedly unresolved and dangerous technical problems with their products.

History

The insignia of Tesla Motors as seen on a Tesla Roadster Sport

2003–2004: Founding

Founded as Tesla Motors, Tesla was incorporated on July 1, 2003, by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning.[15] The two founders were influenced to start the company after GM recalled all its EV1 electric cars in 2003 and then destroyed them,[16] and seeing the higher efficiency of battery-electric cars as an opportunity to break the usual correlation between high performance and low mileage.[17] The AC Propulsion tzero also inspired the company's first vehicle, the Roadster.[18][19] Eberhard said he wanted to build "a car manufacturer that is also a technology company", with its core technologies as "the battery, the computer software, and the proprietary motor".[20]

Ian Wright was Tesla's third employee, joining a few months later.[15] The three raised US$7.5 million in Series A funding in February 2004,[15] with Elon Musk contributing $6.5 million.[21][22] Musk became chairman of the board of directors,[15] and appointed Eberhard as CEO.[23] J. B. Straubel joined Tesla in May 2004.[15] A lawsuit settlement agreed to by Eberhard and Tesla in September 2009 allows all five (Eberhard, Tarpenning, Wright, Musk and Straubel) to call themselves co-founders.[24]

2005–2009: Roadster

Musk took an active role within the company and oversaw Roadster product design at a detailed level, but was not deeply involved in day-to-day business operations. From the beginning, Musk consistently maintained that Tesla's long-term strategic goal was to create affordable mass market electric vehicles.[25] Tesla's goal was to start with a premium sports car aimed at early adopters and then moving into more mainstream vehicles, including sedans and affordable compacts.[10]

In February 2006, Musk led Tesla's Series B $13 million investment round which added Valor Equity Partners to the funding team.[26][22] Musk co-led the third, $40 million round in May 2006 along with Technology Partners.[22] This round included investment from prominent entrepreneurs including Google co-founders Sergey Brin & Larry Page, former eBay President Jeff Skoll, Hyatt heir Nick Pritzker and added the VC firms Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Capricorn Management, and The Bay Area Equity Fund managed by JPMorgan Chase.[27][22] Musk led the fourth round in May 2008 which added another $40,167,530 in debt financing, and brought the total investments to over $100 million through private financing.[22]

Prototypes of the Tesla's first car, the Roadster, were officially revealed to the public on July 19, 2006, in Santa Monica, California, at a 350-person invitation-only event held in Barker Hangar at Santa Monica Airport.[28] Tesla began production of the Roadster in 2008.[29]

2010–2015: IPO, Model S and Model X

In January 2010 Tesla received a $465 million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy, which it repaid in 2013.[30]

In May 2010, Tesla purchased what would become the Tesla Factory in Fremont, California, for $42 million,[31] and opened the facility in October 2010 where Model S would be produced.[32]

On June 29, 2010, Tesla Motors launched its initial public offering (IPO) on NASDAQ, the first American car company to do so since the Ford Motor Company had its IPO in 1956.[33]

First deliveries of Model S at the Tesla Factory in Fremont, California

In June 2012, Tesla launched its second car, the Model S luxury sedan,[34] and its first SUV, the Model X, in September 2015.[35]

In April 2015, the company unveiled its Powerwall home and Powerpack industrial battery packs,[36] and received orders valued at $800 million within a week of the unveiling.[37]

2016–present: SolarCity, Model 3, and Model Y

In November 2016, Tesla acquired SolarCity.[38] Few months later, in February 2017, Tesla Motors shortened its name to Tesla, Inc., to better reflect the scope of the expanded business. Tesla began selling the Model 3 sedan in July the same year.[39]

Tesla also started its philanthropic effort. Tesla made multiple contributions of solar power to areas recovering from disasters in 2017.[40][41] In July 2018, the company donated $37.5 million to K-12 STEM education in Nevada.[42] In January 2020, Tesla donated 5 million Yuan ($723,000) to the Chinese CDC to fight the COVID-19 outbreak.[43][44]

In 2018, CEO Elon Musk briefly considered taking Tesla private.[45]

In March 2020, Tesla began deliveries of the Model Y crossover.[46]

On January 10, 2020, Tesla become the most valuable American automaker ever, with a market capitalization of $86 billion.[47] On June 10, 2020, Tesla's market capitalization surpassed those of BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen combined.[48] The next month, Tesla reached a market capitalization of $206 billion, surpassing Toyota's $202 billion to become the world's most valuable automaker by market capitalization.[49] On August 31, 2020, Tesla had a 5-for-1 stock split following the increase in value.[50]

From July 2019 to June 2020, Tesla reported four profitable quarters in a row for the first time, which made it eligible for inclusion in the S&P 500.[51] Tesla was added to the index on December 21 of the same year.[52] Tesla was the largest company ever added, and the sixth-largest company in the index at the time of inclusion.[52] As investors tried to buy more shares as a result of this inclusion, some analysts, such as J.P. Morgan's Ryan Brinkman, suggested investors exercise caution as Tesla was "dramatically" overvalued.[53] In 2020, the share price of Tesla increased 740%,[54] and as of December 2020, its market capitalization was more than the next nine largest automakers combined.[55]

It was announced in January 2021 that the company had hit its goal of building a half-million cars in 2020.[56]

Board of directors

In an April 2017 public letter, an investor group asked Tesla to add two new independent directors to its board "who do not have any ties with chief executive Elon Musk".[57] 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."[58] Tesla's directors at the time included Brad Buss, who served as chief financial officer at SolarCity; Steve Jurvetson, a venture capitalist who also sits on the board of SpaceX; Elon Musk's brother, Kimbal; and Ira Ehrenpreis and Antonio Gracias, both of whom also invested in SpaceX.[59] The letter called for a more independent board that could put a check on groupthink.[58] At first Musk responded on Twitter, writing that the investors "should buy Ford stock" because "their governance is amazing."[58] Two days later, he promised he would add two independent board members.[60]

Tesla board of directors as of December 2020[61]
Joined Name Titles Independent Notes
2014[61] Robyn Denholm Full-time Chairwoman of Tesla, Inc.; former CFO and Head of Strategy of Telstra Yes As of March 2020, Denholm is the only Board member with automotive experience besides Musk.[62] (Denholm served in finance and corporate reporting roles at Toyota Motor Corporation Australia from 1989–1996.)[63]
2004[15] Elon Musk Co-founder, CEO and Product Architect of Tesla; founder, CEO and CTO of SpaceX; former Chairman of Tesla, Inc.; former Chairman of SolarCity No
2004[64] Kimbal Musk Board member, SpaceX[65] No
2007[66] Ira Ehrenpreis General Partner at Technology Partners[61] Disputed[57]
2007[64] Antonio J. Gracias CEO and Chairman of the Investment Committee at Valor Equity Partners[67] Disputed[57] Has agreed not to stand for re-election when his term expires on June 11, 2021.[68]
2017[61] James Murdoch Former CEO of 21st Century Fox Yes
2018[61] Larry Ellison Co-founder, Chairman and CTO of Oracle Corporation Yes
2018[61] Kathleen Wilson-Thompson Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance Yes
2020[69] Hiromichi Mizuno United Nations Special Envoy on Innovative Finance and Sustainable Investments; former executive managing director and chief investment officer of Japan's Government Pension Investment Fund[70] Yes

Previous board members include venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson; businessman Steve Westly; former CFO of SolarCity Brad W. Buss; CEO and Chairman of Johnson Publishing Company Linda Johnson Rice; and Daimler executive Herbert Kohler.[71]

Business strategy

Tesla strategy of starting with low-volume high-priced cars and evolving to higher-volume lower-priced cars.[10]

Tesla's product release strategy is to emulate typical technological-product life cycles and initially target affluent buyers, and then move into larger markets at lower price points.[10][72] The battery and electric drivetrain technology for each model are developed and partially paid for through the sales of earlier models.[10][73] The Roadster was low-volume and priced at $109,000. Model S and Model X target the broader luxury market. Model 3 and the Model Y are aimed at a higher-volume segment.[25][74] This strategy is common in the technology industry.[75]

With the Model S, Tesla's technology strategy was to start with a "clean-sheet" design,[76] and build an integrated computer hardware and software architecture at the center of its vehicles.[77] Doing so enables Tesla to provide online ("over-the-air") software updates to its cars,[78][79] which allows Tesla to improve the functionality and performance of its already-sold cars for free.[77] Tesla also continuously improve the hardware of its cars rather than waiting for a new model year, as opposed to nearly every other car manufacturer.[77]

Robotic manufacturing of the Model S at the Tesla Factory in Fremont, California

Tesla does not advertise. The company aims to educate customers through its showrooms, and sells its vehicles online rather than through a conventional dealer network.[80][81] Tesla has showrooms in malls and other high-traffic areas.[81] Musk believes existing dealerships have a conflict of interest and will not promote electric cars from Tesla or any manufacturer,[82] because they make more money servicing than selling cars, and electric cars have lower servicing costs.[83] Tesla is the first automaker in the United States that sells cars directly to consumers; all others use independently owned dealerships.[84][79]

The Tesla Patent Wall at its headquarters was removed after the company announced its patents are part of the open source movement.[85]

Tesla has a high degree of vertical integration, reaching 80% in 2016.[86] The company produces vehicle components as well as building proprietary stations where customers can charge their vehicles. Vertical integration is rare in the automotive industry, where companies typically outsource 80% of components to suppliers and focus on engine manufacturing and final assembly.[87][86][88]

Tesla generally allows its competitors to license its technology, stating that the purpose of the company is to accelerate sustainable energy.[89] CEO Musk considers manufacturing to be Tesla's long-term competitive advantage.[90] Tesla allows its technology patents to be used by anyone in good faith, in order to promote the electric car industry in general, which Tesla believes will be good for itself.[91] Licensing agreements include provisions whereby the recipient agrees not to file patent suits against Tesla, or to copy its designs directly.[92] Tesla retains control of its other intellectual property, such as trademarks and trade secrets to prevent direct copying of its technology.[93]

Technology

As a vertically integrated manufacturer, Tesla has had to research and develop components in multiple technology domains, including batteries, motors, sensors, glass, and artificial intelligence.

Vehicle batteries

Tesla was the first automaker to use batteries containing thousands of small, cylindrical, lithium-ion commodity cells like those used in consumer electronics.[94][95][96] Tesla 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.[97]

Tesla vehicle chassis used in Model S and X, with the battery visible

The batteries are placed under the vehicle floor. This saves interior and trunk (boot) space but increases the risk of battery damage by debris or impact (see #Crashes and fires). After two vehicle fires in 2013 due to road debris, the Model S was retrofitted with a multi-part aluminum and titanium protection system to reduce the possibility of damage.[98]

In 2016, former Tesla CTO J.B. Straubel expected batteries to last 10–15 years,[99] and discounted using electric cars to charge the grid with vehicle-to-grid (V2G) because the related battery wear outweighs economic benefit.[100] He also preferred recycling over re-use for grid once they reach the end of their useful life for vehicles.[100][101] As of April 2019, Tesla has filed paperwork to recycle vehicle and test batteries using its own facilities at Giga Nevada.[102]

Starting in 2016, Tesla established a 5-year battery research and development partnership at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada, featuring lead researcher Jeff Dahn.[103][104][105] Tesla acquired two battery companies in 2019: Hibar Systems and Maxwell Technologies. All three are expected to play an important role in Tesla's battery strategy.[106][107]

Panasonic is the sole supplier of the cells in the United States, and cooperates with Tesla in producing 2170 batteries at Giga Nevada.[108] As of August 2020, Panasonic produces 35GWh per year of the 2170 batteries at Giga Nevada.[109] Tesla's battery cells in China are supplied by Panasonic and CATL, and are the more traditional prismatic cells used by other automakers.[110]

Some analysts believe that Tesla had a $42 ($158 versus $200) per kWh advantage over other vehicle battery manufacturers in 2019 due to its advanced engineering and scale of the Giga Nevada battery manufacturing.[94]

Next generation batteries

During Tesla's Battery Day event on September 22, 2020, Tesla announced the next generation of their batteries, featuring a tabless battery design that will increase the range and decrease the price of Tesla vehicles.[111] The new battery is named the "4680" in reference to its dimensions: 46 mm (1.8 in) wide by 80 mm (3.1 in) tall.[112]

Musk announced plans to manufacture the 4680 batteries in the Tesla Fremont Factory.[113][114] Tesla expects to produce 10 GWh of the 4680 batteries per year "in about a year", 100 GWh by 2023, and 3,000 GWh by 2030.[112]

Tesla expects the new batteries will be 56% cheaper and allow the cars to travel 54% more miles.[115] This would be achieved by a more efficient production process, new battery design, cheaper resources for the anode and cathode, and better integration into the vehicle.[116]

BloombergNEF estimates Tesla's battery pack (not cell) price in 2019 at $128 per kWh, so that would mean a price of $56 per kWh in 3 years, if Tesla is able to achieve its goals.[117][118] Many analysts believe that a battery pack price of $100 per kWh is the point at which the purchase price of electric cars is likely to be lower than comparable gasoline-powered cars, which will be an important milestone.[119][120][121]

Motors

Tesla makes two kinds of electric motors. Their oldest currently-produced design is a three-phase four-pole AC induction motor with a copper rotor[122] (which inspired the Tesla logo), which is used as the rear motor in the Model S and Model X. Newer, higher-efficiency permanent magnet motors are used in the Model 3, Model Y, the front motor of 2019-onward versions of the Model S and X, and is expected to be used in the Semi.[123] The permanent magnet motors increase efficiency, especially in stop-start driving.[124]

Autopilot

Tesla Autopilot in operation

Autopilot is an advanced driver-assistance system developed by Tesla. Tesla states that Autopilot is "designed to assist drivers with the most burdensome parts of driving" in order to make Tesla cars "safer and more capable over time."[125] Tesla states that current (as of July 2020) Autopilot features require active driver supervision[126] and do not make the vehicle autonomous.[125][127]

Starting in September 2014, all Tesla cars are shipped with sensors and software to support Autopilot (initially hardware version 1 or "HW1").[128] Tesla upgraded its sensors and software in October 2016 ("HW2") to support full self-driving in the future.[127][129] HW2 includes eight cameras, twelve ultrasonic sensors, and forward-facing radar.[127][129] HW2.5 was released in mid-2017, and it upgraded HW2 with a second graphics process unit (GPU) and, for the Model 3 only, a driver-facing camera.[130] HW3 was released in early 2019.[131]

In April 2019, Tesla announced that all of its cars will include Autopilot software (defined as just Traffic-Aware Cruise Control and Autosteer (Beta)) as a standard feature moving forward.[125][132] Full self-driving software (Autopark, Navigate on Autopilot (Beta), Auto Lane Change (Beta), Summon (Beta), Smart Summon (Beta) and future abilities) is an extra cost option.[125]

On April 24, 2020, Tesla released a software update to Autopilot. With this update, cars recognize and automatically stop at stop signs. The cars also automatically slow down and eventually stop at traffic lights (even if they are green), and the driver indicates that it is safe to proceed through the traffic light.[133] Tesla acknowledges that the software is still in a beta test phase and far from being finished.[134]

Full self-driving

Full self-driving (FSD) is an optional upcoming extension of Autopilot to enable fully autonomous driving. At the end of 2016, Tesla expected to demonstrate full autonomy by the end of 2017.[135] The first beta version of the software was released on October 22, 2020 to a small group of testers.[136] The release of beta FSD has renewed concern regarding whether the technology is ready for testing on public roads.[137][138]

Tesla's approach to achieve full autonomy is different from that of other companies.[139] Whereas Waymo, Cruise, and other companies are relying on Lidar, highly detailed (centimeter-scale) three-dimensional maps, and cameras (as well as radar and ultrasonic sensors) in their autonomous vehicles, Tesla's approach is to use coarse-grained two-dimensional maps and cameras in addition to radar and ultrasonic sensors.[140][141] Tesla claims that although its approach is much more difficult, it will ultimately be more useful, because its vehicles will be able to self-drive without geofencing concerns.[142] Tesla's self-driving software has been trained based on 3 billion miles driven by Tesla vehicles, as of April 2020.[143][144] In terms of computing hardware, Tesla designed a self-driving computer chip that has been installed in its cars since March 2019.[145]

Most experts believe that Tesla's approach of trying to achieve full self-driving by eschewing Lidar and high-definition maps is not feasible.[146][147] In a March 2020 study by Navigant Research, Tesla was ranked last for both strategy and execution in the autonomous driving sector.[148]

Glass

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 the roof tiles announced in October 2016.[149] The roof tiles contain an embedded solar collector, and are one-third lighter than standard roof tiles.[150]

Vehicle models

Comparison of EPA-rated range for model year 2020 electric cars rated up until January 2020.[151]

As of March 2020, Tesla offers four car models: the Model S, Model 3, Model X and Model Y. The firm's first vehicle, the first-generation Tesla Roadster, is no longer sold.

Production

Model S

The Model S is a five-door liftback sedan. Deliveries began on June 22, 2012.[152] The Model S was the best-selling plug-in electric car worldwide for the years 2015 and 2016, selling an estimated 50,931 units in 2016.[153] As of September 2018, it listed as the world's second best selling plug-in electric car in history after the Nissan Leaf, with global sales of 250,000 units.[154][155][156][157]

Norway is the Model S' largest European market[when?] due to the country's incentives for the adoption of pure electric cars (see also Plug-in electric vehicles in Norway).

The Tesla Model S became the first electric car to top the monthly sales ranking in any country, when the electric car achieved first place in the Norwegian new car sales list in September 2013.[158][159]

Among other awards, the Model S won the 2019 Motor Trend "Ultimate Car of the Year",[160] 2013 "Motor Trend Car of the Year",[161] the 2013 "World Green Car",[162] Automobile magazine's 2013 "Car of the Year",[163] and Time magazine's Best 25 Inventions of the Year 2012 award.[164]

In June 2020, Tesla announced that the Model S Long Range Plus had an EPA range of 402 miles (647 km), the highest of any battery electric car.[165]

Model 3

The Model 3 is a four-door fastback sedan. Tesla unveiled the Model 3 on March 31, 2016.[166] Potential customers began to reserve spots on March 31 with a refundable deposit. One week after the unveiling, Tesla reported over 325,000 reservations.[167] Bloomberg News claimed "the Model 3's unveiling was unique in the 100-year history of the mass-market automobile."[168]

First production Tesla Model 3 cars ready for the delivery event on July 28, 2017. By early 2019, the Tesla Model 3 became the world's all-time best selling plug-in electric car.[14]

Limited vehicle production began in July 2017,[169] and in June 2018 production reached 5,000 vehicles per week.[170] Global deliveries passed the 100,000 unit milestone in October 2018.[171] The Tesla Model 3 ranked as the world's best selling plug-in electric car in 2018, with 146,000 units delivered.

In January 2019, the Model 3 passed the Model S to become the top selling all-electric car in the United States ever,[172] and, the next month, also passed the Chevrolet Volt to become the all-time best-selling plug-in electric car in the country.[173] On February 28, 2019, Tesla announced that they would begin to roll out the Standard Range base model starting at $35,000.[174]

The Tesla Model 3 ended 2019 as the world's best selling plug-in electric car for the second consecutive year, with just over 300,000 units delivered. The Model 3 also set records in Norway and the Netherlands, listing in both countries not only as the top selling plug-in car but also as the best selling passenger car model in the overall market in 2019.[175][176] The Model 3 surpassed the Nissan Leaf in early 2020 to become the world's all-time best selling electric car, with more than 500,000 sold by March 2020.[14]

As of April 2020, the Tesla Model 3 has four trims: Standard Range Plus RWD, Dual Motor AWD Long Range, Performance and the off-the-menu $35,000 standard range.[177]

Model X

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

The Tesla Model X is a mid-size crossover SUV. Model X deliveries started in September 2015.[178] It is offered in 5-, 6- and 7-passenger configurations. The passenger doors are articulating "falcon-wing" designs that open vertically.

In September 2016, the Model X ranked as the top selling plug-in electric car in Norway.[179] Previously, the Model S had been the top selling new car four times.[179] Cumulative sales since inception totaled 106,689 units through September 2018.[156] The United States is its main market with an estimated 57,327 units sold through September 2018.[180]

Model Y

The Model Y is compact crossover utility vehicle. The Model Y is built on a platform that shares many components with the Model 3.[181] The car has up to three rows of seats (up to 7 people), 66 cu ft (2 m3) of cargo space with the second and third rows folded, and will have a range of up to 300 miles (480 km).[182]

The Model Y unveiling occurred on March 14, 2019.[182] As of January 2020, the Tesla Model Y is being manufactured at Tesla Factory in Fremont, California.[183] Deliveries for the Model Y started on March 13, 2020. In the future, the Model Y is also planned to be built at Giga Shanghai (late 2020),[184] and the yet-to-be-built Giga Berlin.[185]

Unveiled

Roadster (second generation)

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 miles (1,000 km) on the 200 kWh (720 MJ) battery pack and will achieve 0–60 mph in 1.9 seconds; it also will achieve 0–100 mph in 4.2 seconds,[186] 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 and the SpaceX Package which will include SpaceX cold air thrusters that will increase the speed even more.[187]

At the time, the base price was set at $200,000 while the first 1,000 units, the Founder's series, would sell for $250,000.[187] Reservations required a deposit of $50,000, and those who ordered the Founder's series paid the $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.[188]

Tesla Semi

Tesla Semi truck

The Tesla Semi is an all-electric Class 8 semi-trailer truck first mentioned in the 2016 Tesla Master plan[189] and officially announced in November 2017. Musk confirmed that two variants would be available: one with 300 miles (480 km) and one with 500 miles (800 km) of range.[190] 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 self-driving operation on highways.[191] Musk also announced that the company would be involved in installing a solar-powered global network of Tesla Megacharger to make the Semi more attractive to potential long-haul customers. A 30-minute charge would provide 400 miles (640 km) of range.[192][193]

Musk initially said in 2017 that Semi deliveries would start in 2019 and selling 100,000 trucks a year, but deliveries were later delayed to 2021. Part of the reason for this delay, according to Musk, is that the Semi includes five times more battery cells than their passenger cars, and the battery supply is not yet sufficient for both Tesla cars and the Semi.[194][195]

Cybertruck

The Cybertruck is a light duty truck unveiled on November 21, 2019, with production set for late 2021.[196] On September 22, 2020, Musk revealed roughly 600,000 Cybertruck preorders.[197]

Many online critics made fun of the truck's angular design, and questioned whether pickup truck buyers will have interest in the Cybertruck.[198][199][200] James Goodwin, chief executive of an Australian car safety organization, says that the angular design and steel construction of the Cybertruck may pose safety risks.[201] The Cybertruck prototype that was unveiled lacked features such as side mirrors, windshield wipers, headlights, and brake lights that are needed to be street legal.[202] Musk announced he will reveal a redesign of the Cybertruck in approximately December 2020.[203][204]

On Tesla's 2020 Battery Day Event, Musk announced that the Tesla Cyberquad, an electric four-wheel all-terrain vehicle originally unveiled in 2019, would be an optional accessory for Cybertruck buyers in 2021.[205]

Discontinued

The only discontinued Tesla vehicle model is the original Tesla Roadster. The Roadster is a battery electric vehicle (BEV) sports car, evolved from the Lotus Elise chassis,[206] that was produced by Tesla Motors (now Tesla, Inc.) in California from 2008 to 2012. The Roadster was the first highway legal serial production all-electric car to use lithium-ion battery cells and the first production all-electric car to travel more than 320 km (200 miles) per charge. It is also the first production car to be launched into orbit, carried by a Falcon Heavy rocket in a test flight on February 6, 2018.[207]

Other concepts

On July 20, 2016, Musk detailed his new master plan for Tesla. It includes more affordable cars produced in higher volume, solar 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.[208] Tesla intended to build a minibus on the Model X platform.[209] In May 2017, Musk indicated that he might favor a 10–12 passenger version of the Model X over a dedicated minibus design.[210] Musk put to rest hopes for a Tesla motorcycle, saying "we're not going to do motorcycles".[211]

In 2016, Musk revealed Tesla's intention to produce a car cheaper than the Model 3.[212] In 2018, Musk indicated a plan to enter a new market segment, offering a compact hatchback in "less than five years".[213][214] He provided no details, and dodged a question about also producing a subcompact. At Battery Day in 2020, Musk said Tesla expects to have a $25,000 electric car within 3 years, which "will basically be on-par or slightly better than a comparable gasoline car".[215] Having the purchase price of an electric car be comparable to a gasoline-powered car will be an important milestone because most experts consider the annual energy and maintenance costs of electric cars to be less than gasoline-powered cars.[216][217]

In April 2019, Musk announced Tesla's intention to launch an autonomous taxi service by the end of 2020 using more than 1 million Tesla vehicles.[218] A year later, in April 2020, Musk stated Tesla would not make the end of 2020 deadline but said, "we'll have the functionality necessary for full self-driving by the end of the year [2020]."[219]

Vehicle service

Tesla receives service revenue from customers after the initial vehicle purchase and reached almost $500 million in 2020 Q2.[220] As of August 2020, those services include: vehicle servicing, charging, insurance, software upgrades, and improved connectivity.

Future services which have been discussed include: Tesla network, Autopilot as a subscription,[221] paying for a WiFi hotspot in the car,[222] and the Tesla app store.[223]

Charging

Supercharger network

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 November 2020, Tesla operates over 20,000 Superchargers[224] in over 2,000 stations worldwide.[225] The Supercharger is a proprietary direct current (DC) technology that provides up to 250 kW of power.[226] The navigation software in Tesla cars can recommend the fastest route for long-distance travel, incorporating possible charging delays.[227]

Almost all Tesla cars come standard with Supercharging hardware. Model S and X cars ordered before January 15, 2017 received free unlimited supercharging. Model S and X cars ordered between January 15, 2017 and August 3, 2019 got 400 kWh (1,400 MJ) of free Supercharging credits per year, which provides a range of roughly 1,000 miles per year (1,600 km/a).[228] Between August 3, 2019[229] and May 26, 2020,[230] all Tesla Model S and X cars ordered came with free unlimited supercharging again. Model 3 cars do not come with free unlimited supercharging.[231]

Destination charging location network

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 home charging station.[232] On April 25, 2016, Tesla launched European destination charging, with 150 locations and more to be added later.[233] Destination chargers worldwide totaled over 23,900 in mid 2019.[234]

Destination chargers are installed free of charge by Tesla-certified contractors; the locations must provide the electricity at no cost to their customers.[235] All installed chargers appear in the in-car navigation system.[236]

Software updates and upgrades

Tesla vehicles' software is continuously updated over-the-air when new software and firmware versions are released. This allows the cars to remain up to date and improve after purchase.[237]

Tesla also offers the option to unlock features in the car through over-the-air software upgrades after purchase. Available upgrades include: basic Autopilot,[238] Full Self Driving,[239] acceleration boost (for Model 3 owners),[240] and rear-heated seats (for Model 3 owners).[241]

Connectivity

All Tesla cars come with "Standard Connectivity" which provides navigation using a cellular connection, and video streaming, internet browsing, and music streaming (with a paid subscription) only over WiFi and/or Bluetooth.[242] "Premium Connectivity" adds cellular access to live traffic, satellite maps, and music streaming, as well as video streaming, browsing the internet and "caraoke" when parked.[243]

Vehicle servicing

For most vehicle manufacturers, only dealers can service (and sell) the cars, and the manufacturer receives no revenue from servicing cars.[244] Tesla service strategy is to service its vehicles through remote diagnosis and repair,[245] mobile technicians,[246] and Tesla-owned service centers.

In 2016, Tesla recommended to have any Tesla car inspected every 12,500 miles or once a year, whichever comes first. In early 2019, the manual was changed to say: "your Tesla does not require annual maintenance and regular fluid changes," and instead it recommends periodic servicing of the brake fluid, air conditioning, tires and air filters.[247]

Insurance

Tesla partnered with Liberty Mutual Insurance Company to offer an insurance plan designed specifically for its electric cars. The plan was made available to US customers In October 2017.[248][249] In August 2019, this partnership was superseded by a partnership with designed specifically for its electric cars.[250][251] It was initially only available to Tesla owners in California.[250] In July 2020, Musk, relying on data obtained through their partnership with State National Insurance, announced that Tesla was creating its own major insurance company. The insurance will use individual vehicle date to offer personalized pricing.[252]

On June 4, 2017, the American Automobile Association raised insurance rates for Tesla owners following a report from the . 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.[253] 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".[254][255] The following year, an analysis of claim frequency and insurance cost data by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted by financial research provider 24/7 Wall St. found that the Tesla Model S and Model X were the two most expensive vehicles to insure.[256] Musk hopes that these insurance rates will greatly decrease once driver-assist and self-driving technology become commonplace.[256]

Battery products

The Powerwall 2

Tesla battery products include: the Powerwall 2, a home battery system with 5 kW (6.7 hp) continuous power and 13.5 kWh (49 MJ) capacity;[257] the Powerpack, a larger industrial battery system; and the Megapack, a containerized battery product for utility-scale projects, each with up to 3 MWh (11 GJ) of storage and 1.5 MW (2,000 hp) of inverter capacity.[258]

Tesla Powerpack batteries used at a Supercharger station.

Initial cells for the battery products were made by Panasonic. In 2017, production was shifted to Giga Nevada,[259] where Tesla expected costs to drop by 30%.[36]

Deployments

In 2017 Tesla supplied Southern California Edison (SCE) with a 20MW/80MWh battery storage system.[260] In May 2016, regulators had ordered SCE to invest in utility-scale battery systems to compensate local power supply after the closure of natural gas facilities.[261]

In November 2016, the island of Ta‘ū in the American Samoa, with a population of approximately 600, was converted to a solar and battery microgrid from diesel-based energy generation.[262] In 2018, two microgrid projects were built in Samoa on the main island of Upolu: one at the Fiaga power station and one at the Faleolo International Airport.[263]

After Hurricane Maria in September 2017, Elon Musk offered to work with the Government of Puerto Rico in rebuilding the island's electrical 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.[264]

In June 2017, Hawaii's Kauai island received a 13 MW solar and 52 MWh battery installation.[265] In July 2017, Tesla won a contract to install the world's biggest grid-scale lithium battery in South Australia by promising installation within 100 days.[266] The 100MW/129MWh Hornsdale Power Reserve was connected to the grid in December 2017.[267]

In February 2020, Pacific Gas and Electric Company received approval to deploy 449 Megapacks at the Moss Landing substation in Monterey County, California, to provide 182.5 MW of power and 730 MWh of energy storage capacity. When operational in 2021, it will be the world's largest battery storage installation by a significant margin.[268]

Facilities

In addition to its corporate headquarters, the company operates multiple large factories for making vehicles and their components. The company operates[269] showrooms and galleries around the world.[270]

Summary of main facilities operated by Tesla
Opened Name City Country Employees Products Notes
2010 Tesla Factory Fremont, California  United States 10,000 Model S, Model 3, Model X, Model Y, Roadster (2020) Previously a NUMMI factory.
2013 Tesla facilities in Tilburg Tilburg  Netherlands Model S, Model X Tesla's first factory outside of the United States. Final EU assembly of major components from US.
2016 Giga Nevada Storey County, Nevada  United States 7,000 Lithium-ion batteries, Powerwall, Powerpack, Megapack Also known as Gigafactory 1.
2017 Giga New York Buffalo, New York  United States 1,500 Photovoltaic cells, Solar panels, Solar shingles, Supercharger equipment Also known as Gigafactory 2.
2019 Giga Shanghai Shanghai  China 2,000[271] Model 3, Model Y Also known as Gigafactory 3. Tesla's first Gigafactory outside of the United States.
2021 Giga Berlin Grünheide, Brandenburg  Germany 10,000[272] Lithium-ion batteries, Model 3, Model Y Also known as Gigafactory 4. Tesla's first Gigafactory in Europe.
2021 Giga Texas Austin, Texas  United States 5,000[273] Cybertruck, Model 3, Model Y, Semi[274] Also known as Gigafactory 5.
Key
Films that have not yet been released Denotes factories that have not yet opened

United States

New Tesla Model S cars at the Tesla Factory in 2012

Tesla was founded in San Carlos, California.[275] In 2010, Tesla moved its corporate headquarters and opened a powertrain development facility in Palo Alto.[276] In May 2020, after California's government had refused to let the Tesla factory reopen after a COVID-19 lockdown, Elon Musk said that he is going to move the company's headquarters from California to Texas or Nevada.[277]

Tesla's first retail store was opened in 2008 in Los Angeles,[278] followed by others in major U.S. cities.[279] As of 2018, Tesla has service centers in 25 states.[280]

Tesla's first assembly plant occupies the former NUMMI plant in Fremont, California, known as the Tesla Factory.[281] By 2015, Tesla also occupied a second factory in Fremont a few miles from the original Fremont plant.[282]

Giga Nevada in 2019

The first major battery production facility was opened in Nevada in 2016. The Giga Nevada (originally Gigafactory 1) produces Powerwalls and Powerpacks,[283] battery cells in partnership with Panasonic,[284] and Model 3 battery packs and drivetrains.[285] The factory received substantial subsidies from the local and state governments.[286]

As part of the acquisition of SolarCity, Tesla acquired the Giga New York located in Buffalo, New York, on the site of a former Republic Steel plant. The company partnered with Panasonic to assemble photovoltaic modules there. Tesla received incentives to locate the factory in Buffalo through the Buffalo Billion program.[287][288] In 2017 the factory added production of solar tiles for the Tesla Solar Roof.[289]

On July 23, 2020, Tesla picked Austin, Texas, as the site of Gigafactory 5. Tesla aims to have up and running by the end of 2021. The factory is planned to be the main factory for the Tesla Cybertruck and the Tesla Semi; it will also produce Model 3 and Model Y cars for the Eastern United States.[290][274]

Europe

Tesla showroom in Munich, Germany

Tesla opened its first European store in June 2009 in London.[291] Tesla's European headquarters are in Amsterdam.[292] 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.[293]

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.[294] After winding down existing contracts with other auto manufacturers, Grohmann works exclusively on Tesla projects.[295] As of February 2018, Tesla is building a small research and development office in Athens, Greece.[296]

Tesla confirmed its long-term plans to build a car and battery Gigafactory in Europe in 2016.[297] Several countries have campaigned to host.[298] A location and plans to begin construction near Berlin were announced in November 2019.[299]

Asia

Tesla Motor's showroom in Aoyama, Tokyo, which was the first showroom opened in Japan.

By 2013, showrooms and service centers operated in Hong Kong,[300] Beijing and Shanghai.[301] Tesla opened its first Japanese showroom in Tokyo, Japan, in October 2010.[302] In South Korea, it opened two showrooms in March 2017[303] and a service center in late 2017.[304] In August 2017, Taiwan opened its first service center and showroom.[305]

In July 2018, Tesla signed an agreement with Chinese authorities to build a factory in Shanghai, China, which is Tesla's first Gigafactory outside of the United States.[306] The groundbreaking ceremony was held on January 7, 2019.[307] The factory building was finished in August 2019, and the initial Tesla Model 3s were in production from Giga Shanghai in October 2019.[308]

In January 8, 2021 Tesla incorporated Tesla India Motors and Energy Private Limited in Bangalore, India.[309]

Rest of the world

Tesla store in Toronto

Tesla opened the first showroom in Australia in Sydney's Martin Place in 2010,[310] followed by a showroom and service center in Melbourne in 2015.[311] By 2019, Tesla had opened 4 service centers in Australia.[312] In 2012, Tesla opened its first "new design" store in Canada in Toronto, Ontario. As of March 2019, a total of nine Tesla stores/galleries operated in Montreal, Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver.

The first expansion of Tesla in the Middle East was with the opening of a showroom and a service center in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in 2017. Five ultra-fast superchargers were also built between cities with a planned 50 destination chargers in the United Arab Emirates by the end of 2017.[313] One of the first Tesla customers was Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority which ordered 200 Tesla Model S and Model X vehicles that were added to 's fleet.[314] In May 2017 the service center and store in Amman, Jordan was opened.[315] In January 2020 a "pop-up" store in Tel Aviv, Israel was opened and an R&D center.[316]

In February 2020, several news sites reported that Tesla was negotiating with the Brazilian Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Marcos Pontes to build a Gigafactory in the state of Santa Catarina, Brazil.[317][318] The rumours were later confirmed by the Brazilian government.[319] Brazil wants to have Tesla in the country, not only selling its cars but also producing them there. Tesla vehicles could then be exported to other nearby markets, such as Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Colombia, the Caribbean region, and even Mexico, a country with which Brazil has a free trade agreement.

Partners

Tesla's major partner is Panasonic, which is the main developer of battery cells for the company. Tesla also has a range of minor partnerships, for instance working with Airbnb and hotel chains to install destination chargers at selected locations.[320]

Panasonic

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."[321] The partnership was part of Panasonic's $1 billion investment over three years in facilities for lithium-ion cell research, development and production.[322]

Panasonic Energy Company President Naoto Noguchi presented Tesla CTO JB Straubel with the first lithium-ion cells from Panasonic's facility in Suminoe-ku, Osaka, Japan.

Beginning in 2010, Panasonic invested $30 million for a multi-year collaboration on next generation cells designed specifically for electric vehicles.[323] In July 2014, Panasonic reached a basic agreement with Tesla to participate in Giga Nevada.[324] Tesla and Panasonic also collaborate on the manufacturing and production of photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules at Giga New York in Buffalo, New York.[289]

Former partners

Unlike many traditional manufacturers, Tesla operates as an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), manufacturing powertrain components for other automakers. Tesla has had partnerships with other auto manufacturers, such as Daimler and Toyota.

Daimler AG

Daimler AG and Tesla began working together in late 2007. On May 19, 2009, Daimler bought a stake of less than 10% in Tesla for a reported $50 million.[325][326] As part of the collaboration, Herbert Kohler, Vice-President of E-Drive and Future Mobility at Daimler, took a Tesla board seat.[71] On July 13, 2009, Daimler AG sold 40% of its May acquisition to Aabar Investments PJSC. Aabar is an Abu Dhabi government investment vehicle.[327][328] In October 2014, Daimler sold its remaining holdings for a reported $780 million.[329]

Tesla supplied battery packs for Freightliner Trucks' Custom Chassis electric van in 2010.[330][331]

The Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive uses a battery pack developed by Tesla.[332]

Tesla built electric-powertrain components for the Mercedes-Benz A-Class E-Cell, an electric car with a range of 120 mi (200 km) and 214 lbf⋅ft (290 N⋅m) of torque. The 36 kWh (130 MJ) battery contained approximately 4,000 lithium-ion cells.[333] 500 cars were planned to be built for trial in Europe beginning in September 2011.[334][335]

Tesla produced and co-developed the Mercedes-Benz B250e's powertrain, which ended production in 2017.[336] The electric motor was rated 134 hp (100 kW) and 230 pound force-feet (310 N⋅m), with a 36 kWh (130 MJ) battery. The vehicle had a driving range of 200 km (124 mi) with a top speed of 150 km/h (93 mph).[337]

Smart electric drive cars had a 14-kilowatt-hour (50 MJ) lithium-ion battery and a powertrain from Tesla.[338]

Mobileye

Initial versions of Autopilot on HW1 were developed in partnership with Mobileye beginning around February 2014.[339] Mobileye ended the partnership on July 26, 2016.[340]

Toyota

On May 20, 2010, Tesla and Toyota announced a partnership to work on electric vehicle development, which included Toyota's $50 million future conditional investment[341] in Tesla and Tesla's $42 million purchase of a portion of the former NUMMI factory.[31] Tesla cooperated on the development of electric vehicles, parts, and production system and engineering support.

In July 2010, the companies announced an agreement to develop a second generation compact Toyota RAV4 EV.[342] A demonstrator vehicle 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. Tesla supplied the lithium metal-oxide battery and other powertrain components[343][344] based on components from the Roadster.[15][345] In August 2012, the production version was unveiled, with some battery pack, electronics and powertrain components being those used in the Tesla Model S sedan (also launched in 2012),[346] The RAV4 EV had a limited production run which resulted in just under 3,000 vehicles being produced.[347] The RAV4 EV left the market in 2014 and there are no known plans to revive the model.[348]

According to Bloomberg News, the partnership between Tesla and Toyota was "marred by clashes between engineers".[349] Toyota engineers rejected designs that Tesla had proposed for an enclosure to protect the RAV4 EV's battery pack; Tesla used a similar design in its Model S sedan, which led to cars catching fire due to punctured battery packs.[349] On June 5, 2017, Toyota announced that it had sold all of its shares in Tesla and halted co-operation, as Toyota had created their own electric car division.[350]

Lawsuits and controversies

Ongoing lawsuits

According to the legal advocacy website PlainSite, Tesla has been party to 620 lawsuits as of June 2019.[351] Ongoing cases include Musk's "Funding secured" tweet, CEO performance award, the acquisition of SolarCity, and allegations of whistleblower retaliation.

Some of Tesla's major legal problems regards a statement from CEO Elon Musk. On August 7, 2018, Musk tweeted, "Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured."[352] The tweet caused a furor on social media and in Tesla's investment circle, causing the stock to rise initially but then plummet when it was revealed to be false.[353][354][355] Musk settled fraud charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission over his false statements in September 2018. According to the terms of the settlement: Musk was removed from his chairman role at Tesla temporarily; Tesla and Musk paid civil penalties of $20 million each; two new independent directors were appointed to the company's board; and Musk agreed to have his tweets reviewed by Tesla's in-house counsel.[356] A civil class-action shareholder lawsuit over Musk's statements is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.[357] Other derivative lawsuits were also filed against Musk and the members of Tesla's board of directors as then constituted in relation to statements made and actions connected to a potential going-private transaction.[358]

In 2018 a class action was filed against Musk and the members of Tesla's board of directors alleging they breached their fiduciary duties by approving Musk's stock-based compensation plan.[358] Musk received the first portion of his stock options payout, worth more than $700 million, in May 2020.[359]

Other legal cases involve the acquisition of SolarCity. In 2016, Musk urged investors to approve the acquisition despite publicly recusing himself from involvement in the deal.[360] Shareholders filed seven lawsuits challenging the acquisition. The consolidated lawsuit alleges that Musk knew SolarCity was going broke before the acquisition, that he and the board of directors overpaid for SolarCity, ignored their conflicts of interest and breached their fiduciary duties in connection with the deal, and failed to disclose “troubling facts” essential to an analysis of the proposed acquisition.[361]

Several legal cases have revolved around alleged whistleblower retaliation. These include the firing of Tesla safety official Carlos Ramirez[362][363] and former Tesla security employee Karl Hansen.[364] In January 2019, another former Tesla security manager and Hansen's supervisor Sean Gouthro filed a whistleblower complaint alleging that the company illegally hacked employees' phones and spied on them while also failing to report illegal activities to the authorities and shareholders.[365][366][367]

Over 100 dissatisfied Dutch Tesla owners have formed a foundation in order to sue Tesla over difficulty getting service for their vehicles.[368]

Resolved lawsuits

In September 2018, Tesla disclosed that it was under investigation by the FBI regarding its Model 3 production figures.[369] Authorities were investigating whether the company misled investors and made projections about its Model 3 production that it knew would be impossible to meet.[369] A stockholder class action lawsuit related to Model 3 production numbers was dismissed in Tesla's favor in March 2019.[370]

In August 2019, Walmart filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Tesla, claiming that Tesla's "negligent installation and maintenance" of solar panels caused fires at seven Walmart stores going back to 2012.[371] Walmart reached a settlement with Tesla in November 2019, although the terms of the settlement were not disclosed.[372]

In June 2018, a Tesla employee named Martin Tripp leaked information that Tesla was scrapping or reworking up to 40% of its raw materials at the Nevada Gigafactory.[373] After Tesla fired him for the leak, Tripp filed a lawsuit and claimed Tesla’s Security team gave police a false tip that he was planning a mass shooting at the Nevada factory.[374][365] The court ruled in Tesla's favor on September 17, 2020.[375][376]

In September 2019, a California judge ruled that Musk and other Tesla executives have been illegally sabotaging employee efforts to form a union.[377]

Controversies

Outside of the courts, Tesla has been the subject of other public controversies, ranging from accounting issues to workers' safety complaints. Slate ranked Tesla number 14 on their "Evil List" of most dangerous tech companies in 2020.[378]

Accounting issues

In September 2019, the SEC questioned Tesla CFO Zach Kirkhorn about Tesla's warranty reserves and lease accounting.[379] Analysts have expressed concerns over Tesla's accounts receivable balance.[380] Hedge fund manager David Einhorn has accused Elon Musk of "significant fraud",[381] and publicly questioned Tesla's accounting practices, telling Musk in November 2019 that he was "beginning to wonder whether your accounts receivable exist."[382] Tesla has used many "fancy accounting gimmicks" to show positive cash flow and quarterly profits,[383][384] and Bloomberg has questioned whether Tesla's financial reporting violates Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) reporting standards.[383]

Battery swap technology

From 2012 to 2014, Tesla earned more than $295 million in Zero Emission Vehicle credits for a battery-swapping technology that was never made available to customers.[385][386][387] Staff at California Air Resources Board were concerned that Tesla was "gaming" the battery swap subsidies and recommended eliminating the credits in 2013.[388][389]

COVID-19 pandemic in the United States

Much controversy surrounds Tesla's management of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. At the onset of and during the pandemic, CEO Elon Musk repeatedly downplayed its risks. Later in May 2020, while Alameda County officials were negotiating with the company to reopen the Fremont factory on the 18th, Musk defied local government orders by restarting production at the factory on the 11th.[390] This act was in non-compliance with the governor's order for the state of California during the crisis.[391][392] Tesla also filed a lawsuit against Alameda County but later rescinded it after the Fremont factory was given approval to reopen.[393][394] Tesla published its detailed plan for bringing employees back to work and keeping them safe,[395] but CNBC reported some employees continued to express concern over lax coronavirus precautions.[396] In June 2020, Tesla fired an employee who criticized the company for taking inadequate safety measures to protect workers from the coronavirus at the Fremont factory.[397] Three more employees at Tesla's Fremont factory also say they were fired for staying home out of fear of catching COVID-19, despite Musk telling workers in May that they could stay home if they feel uncomfortable coming back to work.[398]

Environmental violations

Environmental violations and permit deviations at Tesla's Fremont factory increased dramatically from 2018 to 2019 with the production ramp of the Model 3.[399] In June 2019, Tesla began negotiating penalties for 19 environmental violations from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.[400] The violations centered on Tesla Fremont's paint shop, where there have been frequent fires since 2014.[401] The United States Environmental Protection Agency also investigated Tesla for violations of the Clean Air Act,[402] and fined Tesla for hazardous waste violations in April 2019.[403]

Flawed battery design and fires

In June 2012, Tesla knew the battery cooling system in its Model S cars had a flawed design that made it susceptible to leaks, which could short the battery or cause a fire.[404] Tesla continued to sell Model S cars with this flawed cooling system through late 2012, even as employees found these parts leaking on the production line.[404]

In October 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began investigating Tesla's Model S and X vehicles for potential battery defects that could cause "non-crash" fires.[404][405]

Giga New York

Tesla's Giga New York factory, which was built and equipped using nearly $1 billion in New York taxpayer money, has faced criticism and legal actions regarding allegations of inflated job promises, cost overruns, construction delays, bid rigging, a perceived lack of effort from Musk, and claims that the deal was, in effect, a bailout of Musk's cousins Peter and Lyndon Rive.[406][407][408][409] The New York state comptroller released a "scathing" audit of the project, concluding that it presented many red flags, lacked basic due diligence, and produced only 54 cents in economic benefits for every $1 spent by the state (compared to the benchmark set for these types of projects of $30 in economic benefits for every $1 spent).[410]

Short sellers

As of January 15, 2020, Tesla stock was the most-shorted in U.S. equity markets. Over 20% of its stock was shorted at that time, with many shorters losing large amounts of money as the stock price climbed much higher later in the year.[411] TSLAQ is an informal and largely anonymous group of Tesla shorters and critics, mainly organized online.

Worker safety and rights

According to former employees at Tesla's Fremont factory, Tesla has systematically denied medical care to injured workers, forced injured workers to return to the production line without relief, and insisted that seriously injured workers be sent to the emergency room in a Lyft rather than call 911.[412] An investigation by Reveal found that Tesla "failed to report some of its serious injuries on legally mandated reports, making the company's injury numbers look better than they actually are."[413] Their factory injury rates are worse than the industry average, despite Musk claiming otherwise.[413][414] From 2014 to 2018, Tesla's Fremont factory had three times as many Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violations as the ten largest U.S. auto plants combined.[415]

Vehicle product issues

Tesla earned the worst score among the 32 major vehicle brands in J.D. Power's 2020 Initial Quality Study due to various problems reported by owners.[416] The first units for each new Tesla model revealed design and manufacturing flaws, including the Model S and the Model X.[417][418] As the Tesla vehicle fleet grew, the number of service centers resulted in waiting periods for some owners.[419] Automotive research company Kelley Blue Book view the service delays as insignificant, as owners accept the challenges of servicing a new type of car.[419] Other issues with vehicles included recalls, crashes and fires, delays, and software hacking.

Recalls

As of March 2018, Tesla had issued two product recalls for the Roadster, six for the Model S and two for the Model X.[420]

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 which could become stuck and "prevent the vehicles from moving".[421][422]

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, which could fail and require the driver to use "increased force" to control the vehicle.[423]

In June 2016, the NHTSA announced that it was reviewing reports of suspension problems in Tesla Model S sedans.[424] The NHTSA also said they were aware that Tesla had entered into a "troublesome" non-disclosure agreement with one Model S owner regarding the suspension issue.[424][425] Journalist and author Ed Niedermeyer called this type of agreement "unheard of in the auto industry", and noted that a policy of demanding non-disclosure agreements for "goodwill" repairs would limit the number of defects Tesla owners reported to the NHTSA.[425] Cases of the "whompy wheel" phenomenon, which also included Model X and the occasional Model 3 cars,[426] have been documented through 2020.[427] In October 2020, Tesla initiated a recall of nearly 50,000 Model X and Y vehicles throughout China[428] and in November the NHTSA announced it had "opened an investigation into about 115,0000 Tesla vehicles over front suspension safety issues," citing 2015 - 2017 Model S and 2016 - 2017 Model X vehicles.[429]

In January 2021, NHTSA again asked for the recall of 158,000 vehicles (Model S vehicles built from 2012 to 2018 and Model X vehicles built between 2016 and 2018) over touchscreen failures that could possibly affect the rear-view camera, safety systems, Autopilot and other functions.[430][431]

Crashes and fires

Tesla vehicles have been involved in a number of controversial fires and crashes. Some of these crashes involve the use of the Autopilot driver assistance system.

In 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 impact of an object.[432] As a result of this and other incidents, Tesla announced its decision to extend its current vehicle warranty to cover fire damage.[433] On March 28, 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (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.[434] All Model S cars manufactured after March 6, 2014, have had the 0.25-inch (6.4 mm) aluminum shield over the battery pack replaced with a new three-layer shield.[435]

A Model S driver died in a collision with a tractor-trailer in 2016, 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.[436][437] The NHTSA investigated the accident but found no safety-related defect trend.[438] In March 2018, an Apple engineer was killed in a crash in a Tesla Model X. Investigators say that the driver of the vehicle had his car in ‘self-driving’ mode and was using his phone to play games when the vehicle collided with the barrier in the middle of the freeway. Through investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board found that the Tesla malfunctioned due to the system being confused by an exit on the freeway.[439]

Delays

Tesla has been criticized for repeatedly over-promising and under-delivering. Delivery dates for new vehicles and new vehicle features slipped on the Roadster, Model S, Model X and Model 3. Advanced technologies like the prospect of a large network of solar-powered supercharger stations (first installation was in 2012; only a few were solar-powered as of mid 2019)[440] also lagged projections.[441]

In early October 2017, Musk had predicted that Model 3 production would be up to 5,000 units per week by December.[442] 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.[443] An analyst with Cowan and Company, a public relations firm, made this comment: "Elon Musk needs to stop over promising and under delivering".[444]

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.[445] 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.[446]

Hacking

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.[447] The hack required the researchers to physically access the car.[448] Tesla issued a security update for the Model S the day after the exploit was announced.[449]

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.[450] 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[451] and patched within 10 days, before the exploit was made public.[452] Tencent also hacked the doors of a Model X in 2017.[453]

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 responded by securing the compromised system, rewarding the security researchers financially via their bug bounty program, and stating that the compromise did not violate customer privacy, nor vehicle safety or security.[454][455]

In 2019, Tesla awarded a car and $375,000 to ethical hackers during a Pwn2Own Model 3 Hacking Event.[456]

Vehicle sales

Tesla reported 2020 vehicle deliveries of 499,550, which was better than analysts' estimates but shy of the company's goal of 500,000.[457] At the end of 2019, Tesla's global sales since 2012 totaled over 891,000 units.[458][459][460] As of October 2018, Tesla's sales represented about 20% of the all-electric cars on the world's roads, according to Navigant Consulting.[461] By November 2018, Tesla vehicles had traveled 10 billion miles (16 billion km).[462]

Cumulative global sales (deliveries) of Tesla's electric vehicles by model through March 31, 2020 (total: 985,154 vehicles)
Model (launch year) Units delivered
Roadster (2008)
2,450
Model S+X (2012, 2015)
460,441
Model 3+Y (2017, 2020)
524,713
(In Q1 2019, Tesla began combining sales figures for the Model S and Model X. In Q1 2020, Tesla began combining sales figures for the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y.)

Production and sales by quarter

50,000
100,000
150,000
200,000
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
Q4
Q1
Q2 2019
Q3
Q4
Q1
Q2 2020
Q3
Q4
  •   Model S
  •   Model X
  •   Model S/X
  •   Model 3
  •   Model 3/Y

Tesla deliveries vary significantly by month due to regional issues such as availability of car carriers and registration. The company does not report sales monthly.[463] On March 9, 2020, the company produced its 1 millionth electric car, becoming the first auto manufacturer to achieve such a milestone.[13]

Dealership disputes in the United States

Tesla gallery in Austin, Texas

Tesla operates stores and galleries—usually located in shopping malls—in many U.S. states. However, customers buy vehicles only from the Tesla website.[464] 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 prices or financing, or providing test drives, as well as other restrictions. Forty-eight states have laws that limit or ban manufacturers from selling vehicles directly to consumers,[465] and although Tesla has no independent dealerships, dealership associations in multiple states have filed lawsuits over Tesla's sales practices. In response, Tesla has lobbied in several states for the right to sell cars.

Countries other than United States do not protect dealers.[466][467][468] The Federal Trade Commission recommends allowing direct manufacturer sales,[469][470] which government analysts believe would save consumers 8% in average vehicle price.[471]

Finances

Financial performance

For the fiscal year 2019, Tesla reported losses of US$862 million, with an annual revenue of US$24.578 billion, an increase of 14.5% over the previous fiscal cycle. Since 2008 sales increased from 14.7 million to 24.578 billion, thanks to continued business expansion.[472]

Year Revenue
(mil. USD)
Net income
(mil. USD)
Total assets
(mil. USD)
Employees
2009[473] 112 −56 130
2010[473] 117 −154 386 899
2011[474] 204 −254 713 1,417
2012[475] 413 −396 1,114 2,914
2013[476] 2,013 −74 2,417 5,859
2014[477] 3,198 −294 5,831 10,161
2015[478] 4,046 −889 8,068 13,058
2016[479] 7,000 −675 22,664 17,782
2017[480] 11,759 −1,962 28,655 37,543
2018[481] 21,461 −976 29,740 48,817
2019[4] 24,578 −862 34,309 48,016

See also

References

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Further reading

External links