The Hidden History of Tesla, part 1/3

The work of the invention, inspiration, betrayal and the creation of electric vehicles

The reaction of Elon Musk (center) at the first public offering, AP Photo / Mark Lennihan em>

Tesla unnatural existence. The last successful startup American car that stunned the world with its new technologies, founded 111 years ago and called it «Ford».

The company, whose age barely exceeds 10 years, worth more than $ 30 billion. Yes, the stock market, it silently adore everything from green energy enthusiasts and fans of artificial intelligence to ordinary motorists. Bank holding company "Morgan Stanley» назвал Major car company Tesla and Tesla Model S become the most beloved car in the United States in 2014.

But in fact, nothing new has happened: first saw the light of electric vehicles in the XIX century . Before the advent of Tesla were just boring cars with electric traction, get behind the wheel of which were resolved except that violent fans of "green" technologies.

Elon Musk, seems unable to inspire the idea and bring new content received in life, when in fact the public often mistakenly associated his efforts with success. The real authors - a group of engineers who are faced with a young billionaire. There will be discussed only on the period of Tesla, which many people forget.

On the basis of in-depth interviews with a variety of participants in the history of real and rare leak of documents in the public network's website Business Insider published a unique story about the formation of the company. This post is entirely based on its materials.

In summer 2004, product designer Malcolm Smith called his former colleague - engineer Martin Eberhard - and asked to look at his car. In a small office in Menlo Park, California Eberhard and his business partner Mark Tarpenning showed Smith a rough sketch of a business plan and some exemplary technical specifications of the future product. They wanted to build a car.

And it was not just a car: it was electric. Of course, Smith treated the idea as a curiosity, and with mockery and skepticism. He understood that to create a new product does not need to reinvent everything from scratch, it is only necessary to bring together existing technologies.

tzero from AC Propulsion. Wikimedia Commons, GNU Free Documentation License. Em>

Eberhard offered Smith a ride on a two-seater. It was a small yellow machine with a logo tzero on board. The name was a reference to the physical marking of the original reference point of time: T 0 sub>. The car left the feeling of manual assembly - he really was assembled by hand. They drove through the Сэнд-Хилл-роуд, Street, today known by set of venture capital , and only slightly tzero roared. Sitting behind the wheel, Eberharard slowed to 15 kilometers per hour, and asked Smith to reach the dashboard of the car.

Smith reached out to her, and Martin drowned gas pedal. Smith's hand has not reached its goal: the car to accelerate to 97 kilometers per hour (60 miles per hour) in less than 4 seconds. Overloading pressed the body of a passenger in the seat.

The best thing this video shows what happened with the participation of Tesla P85D em>

It was this demonstration changed Smith's subsequent attitude, he realized that this was not some kind of fun, and high-tech project. This is not a golf cart or a toy car for fans of green technologies. Only the electric vehicle is able immediately to give full torque. Smith was one of the first 20 employees of the company as vice president of engineering. And Eberhard kept the habit to perform for beginners of this spectacular demonstration of power electric cars.

The first machine Tesla, which has caused interest in the company was Roadster. The electric car was released in 2008. His называли not a simple machine, and one of the most powerful applications of automobile on the road. Sedan Model S стал one of the hottest cars of 2013. In the same year, Tesla Motors in terms of sales превысила Mercedes Benz S Class, BMW 7 other luxury cars.

But it all started in the 90s and not with electric cars. Marc Tarpenning worked at Textron in Saudi Arabia. Once, during a visit home to California, he met an old friend Greg Renda, while the employed in Wyse Technology in San Jose. Greg had insisted that Marc jumped to his office to look at the new terminals, the work of Wyse. There he met with Mark Martin Eberhard.

Energy, talkativeness and personal charm Martin were visible at once: he dominated the room. Generally, the lanky and beard Eberhard forced to compare him to Abraham Lincoln. Tarpenning was from another test: modest, smaller and quieter, with a very low-key sense of humor.

These two opposites quickly became friends. Every few weeks, they, along with a group of other geeks playing Magic: The Gathering. Mark recalls Eberhard liked to experiment with different thought-out strategies, which are either led him to success or fails miserably. At about the same, and he was engaged in business.

Some time later, Eberhard and Tarpenning started working together. They provide consulting services to companies engaged in hard drives of data. Very often, they worked out of the cafe, using early representatives of mobile technology: cell phones, laptops, PDAs, PalmPilot.

Duration of portable devices strongly dependent on the amount of battery life, and while she was not very good. Generally, the battery capacity is growing slowly, Marc Tarpenning even called the pace of its growth "slow Moore's Law." The original law of exponential growth predicted twofold increase in CPU power for 18 or 24 months. This empirical observation maintained that the battery capacity will increase only twice in 10 years.


Martin Eberhard and Rocket eBook from NuvoMedia. Photo Associated Press em>

And it made me think: what product can be better with a decent battery? We stopped at the electronic book. In those years, "Amazon" has been selling paper books via the Internet, but you can download them by modem page 9, 6 kb / s.

April 15, 1997, Eberhard and Tarpenning founded the company NuvoMedia. In late 1998, they released a device for reading electronic books Rocket eBook. In 1999, it sold 20 thousand. Units. In 2000, the company is interested company Gemstar-TV Guide. Sensing the impending fall, they sold their offspring for 187 million dollars. And by the end of 2000, they again wanted to venture something.

Around the same time, Eberhard divorced. Happy bachelor decided to buy a sports car, but he could not bring myself to buy a car that eats a liter for every 8 kilometers. He was also frightened of the war in the Middle East and becoming apparent global warming. A normal high-performance electric vehicles did not exist.

Martin was a sign of all the sources of energy that he could think of: Hydrogen Power Cell, various types of gasoline and diesel fuel, natural gas, several varieties of batteries. In one of the columns was the specific value of the distance of movement of the car, which is this type of energy can give. As he recalls Eberhard, the results were a bit shocking. First, the hydrogen fuel cell terrible efficiency is not higher than that of the gas. Second, electric cars is much better than the rest, even if the electricity for powering their extracted from coal.

He became interested in the communities of electric fans and bumped into AC Propulsion, a consulting automakers that they needed in connection with the intentions of the heads of California in respect of ecology - the program Zero Emission Vehicle. Company name can be translated as "set in motion due to the AC." It is at this artisanal producer of electric vehicles has been available sports car tzero.


tzero. 24208255 @ N07 / flickr em>

Behind the wheel of the electric vehicle, Eberhard immediately realized that was not wrong in the calculations: the machine was accelerating at Lamborghini, and this clearly shows that the electric car can be sporty and fast. Well, in the rain it is impossible to drive - the water will cause a short-circuit in the on-board computer, but she kept herself is not like a typical electric transport.

Here is an excerpt from the original business plan of Tesla Motors. Here Ian Wright (the first vice-president of development and one of the co-founders of the company) crumbles to praise tzero.

«When I first got behind the wheel tzero from AC Propulsion, I was immediately struck by how the energy is not extinguished by the acceleration of the electric vehicle movement - was the feeling that you go in first gear, but it does not end, and goes up to 100 miles per hour [161 km / hr].
The second discovery was addictive to decrease power wherever I want to, without any thoughts about changing gear. Speed ​​control has become as instinctive as the basic steering system.
Third, the end of the test drive, I was amazed how smooth and easy speed control for parking speeds. I'm on the same program, as well as at 100 miles per hour, and it works perfectly! How this is possible? But it is real. » Blockquote> At some stage Eberhard invested in AC Propulsion, hoping to get your electric car, and even thought about working in the company. Perhaps his skills could help in making the car enthusiast in the industrial design of the electric vehicle. But he soon realized that both the existing culture of the company contrary to his ambitions.

The era before Tesla
If the electric car is so good and has so many wonderful advantages in addition to its environmental friendliness and lack of emissions, why they did not use the existing auto giants?


Recycled EV-1. Plug In America, Wikimedia Commons em>

The answer is simple: big companies have tried a new direction, but made mistakes. In the two years before the release of the first production cars Tesla in 2006 released a documentary film «Кто Killed the Electric Car? »( Who Killed the Electric Car? ), which tells of the attempts of big players . The film is almost entirely devoted to electric cars EV-1 from General Motors and contains a lot of speculation about who was favorable failure of this product. < br />
GM claimed that the EV-1 was their best attempt. According to Washington Post , the company had spent $ 1 billion to develop. EV-1 was impossible to advance beyond the circle of violent environmentalists and enthusiasts of electric cars, at least as discussed in General Motors. Almost all of the EV-1 had been withdrawn, most of them It was destroyed .

For Tarpenninga was obvious that the potential of electric motors, which did not use the car industry:

«One of the recurring leitmotifs with which we faced in those articles, read, reason, which never allow electric vehicles to be successful - is the lack of development of battery technology over the last hundred years. The media talked just like that, and this is true for lead-acid batteries. » Blockquote> But for lithium-ion. Due to innovations in the chemistry of electrolytes, according Tarpenning, they become better at 7% per year and is constantly getting cheaper. If there are no unexpected obstacles, it should be expected that within a decade will be available to all, it is easier to design, cheaper, more profitable and more efficient. The electrical nature of their future offspring, as shown by research and spectacular demonstrations with the request to reach the instrument panel, allows not only to receive a lot more torque immediately after pressing the gas pedal, but also to regenerative braking, you have to use the energy normally lost to recharge the car battery .

By the summer of 2003, Eberhard and Tarpenning already knew that they wanted to establish a company for the production of electric vehicles and they will start with two-seater sports car with a lithium-ion battery and an induction motor, and then moving towards greater affordability. This could prevent even the complete absence of any knowledge of the automotive industry. Co-founder of the company were well aware how much they have to learn. They had nothing to fear for the future of the electronic machines - it was strong and Silicon Valley. They were afraid they were only for the fact that they have done in Detroit for its iron component.


DeLorean liked everything, but the company is bent. rjshade / flickr em>

Gradually it became clear that the last 20-30 years have become much more condusive to car startup. Yes, previously I had to live the smallest details of your future offspring, for example, form wipers and door handles, and produce their own, as does DeLorean.

But the industry has changed a lot: automotive company has long been engaged in the development of the windshield, buy it from another individual manufacturer windscreens. The side and rear windows are already taking other companies. Outsourcing is not only small parts, but even electronics and exterior design. Basically auto giants are working on the engine, assembly, sales, marketing, and consumer credit. And the money they хватает.

Partner companies are willing to cooperate, they just need to find. Let the price will not be as beneficial as it could be in the size of deliveries as at Ford, but is largely due to this specialization in automotive Tesla has a real chance to become part of the automotive world. Following these revelations Tarpenning decided it was time for the electric company.


The registration documents Tesla em>

The company name must have meant something else, other than the names of manufacturers of electric cars, the pre-startup Eberhard: no "V", "eco", "pulse" or other greenness. In addition, like any name, it should have been a resounding and memorable, and, of course, point out that this car company, not a manufacturer of some other high-tech electronics.

Eberhard for months racked his future wife, offering a variety of names. He also wanted to honor the memory of the man who invented the induction motor, which became the core of their main product. The name was found in August 2003, Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning moved into their first office. The plate bore the last name of the tenant, something like Bushtracks African Expeditions. Plate turned and brought her back to the name of the new company: Tesla Motors. Prior to that, on April 23, Martin has registered the domain name  code>  pre>. The first of July is the procedure of legal registration. 

[Continued in Part 2/3]



See also

New and interesting