Tesla untold story, part 2

The creation of the first electric car

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The main provisions of the original business plan for Tesla

Closer to the fall of 2003, Eberhard and Tarpenning decided to consider the main ideas of the company before looking for investors, so as not to scare them with his weird idea. It was decided to work with known investors who would never invest in electric cars. They were interested only in the technology of data transmission via optical fiber and design websites. It was a company with which the founders of Tesla were already familiar in three rounds of investment in NuvoMedia, their first successful company producing devices for reading electronic books.

In the first lines of their business plan promised the construction of high-performance electric sports car, which in itself sounded impossible. Impossible sounded like the idea of building cars, and the part which read that they will be high-performance electric vehicles. But technology allow to create a car company without a large production capacity, and recently achieved the overall level of development of key components makes the project very attractive. All this was explained in a summary of the business plan.

Next were listed the following:

  • 0-97 km/h in less than 3.9 seconds.

  • The international quality standards.

  • The equivalent of 42.5 kilometers per liter of fuel

  • No exhaust.

  • The charge lasts for 480 kilometres.

  • The lack of maintenance of the first 160 000 miles (except tires).

  • The price is two times lower than that of the cheapest sports car with comparable characteristics.

The electric car was described as a "disruptive" technology is an expression of the business plan borrowed from Harvard Professor Clayton Christensen. Roadster is not only cheaper than the expensive sports car, a car from the Tesla does less damage to the planet.

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Comparison chart of energy efficiency of a car and time its acceleration to 97 km/h (60 mph), the material Tesla Motors. Sports cars reach a higher capacity at a loss of efficiency. But the electric car has the same performance, but much greater energy efficiency.

The plan argued that with gasoline engine performance means high cost of fuel. If you need a machine which need quickly accelerate, then it needs more strong and less effective (in relation to the specific mileage of the unit of fuel) the engine. With electric cars it is not so: when doubling power from 100 horsepower to 200 the engine will be the hardest to 11-12 pounds. Cars Tesla as a highly efficient and fast, this is the subversive quality the technology of electric cars. Roadster have less total emissions than the most efficient cars. While its acceleration is at least at the level of sports cars, but the efficiency is six times higher, and emissions ten times less.

Business plan and presentation were honed to perfection on these random organizations that aren't expected real investment. Now everything was ready for this rise of the funds. Here Eberhard and Tarpenning realized that difficulties more than they seemed. For example, they do not fully understand the complexity of the franchise sales model of the automotive industry. Only after talking with several owners of dealer networks spread, it became clear that Tesla is not going to work through them, otherwise it will lose feedback from customers. And yet, thanks to laws lobbied individual States to choose it.

By the way, politics is also worthwhile to consider. Had to develop the attitude of both major parties — Democratic and Republican. From the first conversation had to start reducing the use of fossil fuels, on energy independence.

It became clear that the machine from scratch does not work, you need to take to ready the car and redo it. Such an approach not uncommon in the industry: the same tzero was created on the basis of the car Piontek Sportech kit. And the car had to be small because the battery did not Shine characteristics, and a great weight strongly affected the covered distance in one full charge. The engine decided to put back to balance.

Began the search for a lightweight car with the engine in the center. The choice fell on the tiny Elise, the tiny sports car from the British company Lotus founded in 1952 and have made a name on manufacture of cars for the "Formula-1" and sports cars. The Lotus was financially independent, the division of Lotus Engineering, working with other auto companies. At some point, Eberhard wanted to appeal to Porsche, which had a similar structure, but the Germans and was asked three times more.

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Lotus Elise makes its debut at the Frankfurt motor show, September 12, 1995, photo by Reuters

So the choice fell on the Lotus Elise. It is already used in a similar way: the Vauxhall VX220 (also known as the Opel Speedster in Europe and the Daewoo Speedster in Asia) was created based on the Elise frame. Dec 28, 2003 at the motor show in Los Angeles Eberhard and Tarpenning met with a member of the Lotus team and gave him a ride on tzero. The same winter, Eberhard made the drawing of the agreement on the use of the technology AC Propulsion to build the engine and control system.

2004 marked the beginning of serious attempts to find investors.

Search for investors

In 2004 in the first round Eberhard and Tarpenning collected some money from relatives, friends and a few investors. The one who would have taken them seriously, one who would have made large investments needed for rapid development, was not immediately.

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Peter Thiel and Elon Musk, the beginning of the two thousandth. Photo By Associated Press

Back in the year 2001. Tarpenning interested in the space program, so dragged Eberhard listen to the speech co-founder of PayPal conference of the Mars society at Stanford. The speaker called Elon Musk. There was a familiarity. By 2004, Musk was already lost in SpaceX, although at the time his child while nothing launched into orbit.

The Eberhard was a verbal agreement with AC Propulsion: do not entice investors from each other. Musk refused to Finance AC Propulsion, and that meant a chance for Tesla. March 31, 2004, Eberhard Mask sends an e-mail to discuss investment in the project. Musk agreed, and Eberhard and Ian Wright, the third member of their team, went to the presentation in Los Angeles, where the headquarters of SpaceX.

The story was supposed to last 30 minutes. In reality, it lasted two hours. Eberhard noticed that the Mask was the first who shared his vision of the electric car: make significantly superior to competitors product and not just something that had a little less of the drawbacks. This product was supposed to be buggy, which would have changed the attitude to this class of vehicles. To break into the relatively small market sports cars will be easier. After the Roadster will destroy the myth about the unattractiveness of electric vehicles, Tesla will be able to move in the direction of more affordable cars.

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General and CTO of SpaceX Elon Musk introduces the Dragon V2 at the main office of SpaceX in Hawthorne, California may 29, 2014, photo by Associated Press

Chaslovtsy showed the business plan, and recalls Wright, Musk reacted with skepticism to the cost of designing and manufacturing the car. Elon took the attachment. Only during the final discussion, which was attended by Eberhard, who arrived from Washington Tarpenning, Musk agreed. But then he noticed that you need to do it quickly — his wife bore twins, and after the birth of the sons of time at Tesla Motors he will not. April 23, 2004 part of the paper was ready. Musk invested $ 7.5 million and became Chairman of the Board. Now Tesla had to start to grow.

The Creation Roadster

Ian Wright joined Tesla in 2003 as a special car and went in about a year. If you believe him, the first lesson of ignorance Tesla was the collaboration with Lotus. Wright's task was to establish contact with the British partner, and after the first visit to the Lotus factory, he was struck by two things. First: how Vauxhall 220 and Lotus mixed up on the Assembly line. Second, the complexity of the task, which was decided in Tesla.

A Lotus engineer said that it is easier to redo the engine, than the door and is shocked Wright. Seemingly simple things actually threatened to endless entanglements. The door you need to fit locks, switches, Windows, while protecting the passenger from moisture, rain and wind. And the door should close with this nice cotton. But the most important is technological tolerances, variations of details and dimensions or, for example, resistance. Engineer need to be able to work within these oscillations. Allowable length detail paired with a valid short will not lead to seizure.

It is here that Wright realized that what used to Tesla Motors considered simple, in fact, turned out to be much more difficult. "We didn't know anything about building cars," he said. What's even worse is the fact that Tesla tried to create a new type of vehicle. The frame of the Elise required a bunch of modifications, electrical chassis, and a battery pack.

Wright also established a relationship with AC Propulsion. It was originally planned to acquire the company. But the leadership of the AC Propulsion has expressed unwillingness to go for this deal, so an agreement was reached on licensing. Tesla has built relationships with two key partners and started working on his future car.

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Model Roadster 1:4 clay, photography Martin Eberhard

At the time of the meeting with Eberhard and Wright in England in 2004, Malcolm Powell for 15 years worked as a project Manager at Lotus. In the conversation discussed the construction of the car, and Powell felt explicit skepticism: Lotus have already encountered people who tried to realize their eccentric ideas based on the technology of the company. And the idea of Tesla is almost no different, because at that time nobody was producing attractive electric cars. While Tesla was an unknown startup, and Lotus is a big name in the industry of racing. Powell recalls that Lotus even was afraid to spoil the reputation of your best product. And anyway, what's the avtomagnatami can come from two people who have made a fortune on e-books? However, Eberhard and Tarpenning was well aware that they have no experience, and it was a small plus. In the future, Powell acted as a contact between the two companies. Six months later, he received the position of Vice President of the division build cars in Tesla.

By the way, the Roadster was as new as new can be called a car from any other automaker the size of General Motors or Ford when developing new models, they are also limited to a set of parts from the existing machines. Tesla had to determine how it will look in their future product, how it will feel to the driver. By the next summer, Eberhard had developed an understanding of what he wanted the Roadster. Have created the first sketches of the future of electric cars, and, as Martin says, they were terrible. The design was filled with silly items that loudly said I electric car.

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The late co-founder of IDEO bill Moggridge, which helped to determine the form of the Roadster, photo by Associated Press

In the fall of 2004 bill Moggridge took an old friend Eberhard at his home in suburban San MATEO, California. A native of London Moggridge was known for his work in industrial design. He was determined, should look like the first modern laptop. Two days Moggridge and Eberhard discussed what should be the future car, and the niche it should occupy. Moggridge was intrigued, since he founded IDEO created samples of any consumer products that only saw the light but not the car.

After a few glasses of wine Moggridge invited Eberhard to realize his idea. He drew an axis on a sheet of paper, one end of which was the futuristic, the other retro. "Where would you like to place your product on this axis?"—he asked. Eberhard pointed closer to retro. Future electrocare need to be athletic enough to it was obvious when you first look at it. And futurism could make a Roadster than something like the Prius or Leaf.

"Here's another axis, from masculinity to femininity. Where would you like to put the car here?"Eberhard replied that in the middle, because the Roadster to attract the men, but it's not a Mustang.

On the sheet there is another axle, now she was describing the limits of curvature and angularity. The electric car could become something of a classic Ferrari, full of curves, or as a modern Lamborghini, very angular. Here Eberhard chose something in between, but closer to the bends. Of course, the Roadster gravitated toward the future, but its shape was supposed to be timeless.

After this discussion Moggridge did some sketches, and Eberhard was amazed. Magically, the designer has translated his language engineer that could understand ordinary people. On the basis of these plans was created as a separate appearance options, and Martin knew the way to choose the right. At Christmas, Eberhard invited the 15 members of the company, consultants and their families in their home County of San MATEO. With the exception of Elon musk were present, all who meant something to Tesla Motors. The walls in the guest bedrooms were naked, then they hung up sketches and renderings of the four variants of the finalists.

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Each guest received three samples of adhesive red paper for notes and three of the same piece of green. Red meant that the option was bad, green for approval. Voting could have a paper as they wanted. All evening guests several times came into the room, saw the images and voted. At the end of one of the options was plastered with green stickers: it was Barney Hatta, the designer of the Lotus. So the Roadster found its form.

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The first steps of the Roadster

By November 2004 was created the first sample of the frame Elise stuffed with Tesla technology. Malcolm Smith remembers that the first trip there was a little dispute of who should get behind the wheel. Some have suggested Eberhard, but the head of the company felt that it should be Jay-Bee Strobel, now technical Director of the company. In an interview with other employees often describe Strobele as a child Prodigy. He built an electric Golf cart at the age of 14 years. He then co-founded aerospace firm Volacom. The MIT Tech Review wrote that the impressive acceleration of the electric vehicle need to give thanks to Strobes because he created an electronic control system, motor and battery.

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The construction of the Mule, of the first sample, picture of Martin Eberhard

The car still had some of the external panels on the body, but he already had battery, software, and electronics. Strobel got behind the wheel and drowned the gas pedal. Mule rushed. As Smith recalls, it was an emotional moment, as the Mule was the first test model, and no one knew whether it would work. And Mule helped to bring in more money. In the second round of investment was raised 13 million, mainly from Valor Equity Partners and Elon musk.

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Frame Roadster, June 2006

By the spring of 2006, Tesla Motors and remained unknown to anyone company. Recently was created the film "Who killed the electric car", Tesla was mentioned only in passing. And it's hard to hold back, if you remember how productive the vehicle is in the process of creation. As said Mike Harrigan, at that time Vice-President of Department of work with clients, he realized that the time to hide in the shadows is over. The company had to declare about its existence.

Began developing plans for public relations, Tesla hired a PR Agency for the organization of the event and another event with the participation of Hollywood stars. 19 Jun Roadster debuted at the Barker Hangar, Santa Monica. Answered and Hollywood. The guest list was 350 people, among them was ed Begley, Michael Eisner, and at that time the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger. All visitors are asked to bring a checkbook. Tesla took pre-orders for what was called "the Signature of the first hundred" — 100 cars for 100 thousand each with the signature of the company's management on the label inside.

In the center of the hangar was the scene, and the path inside was out the door, passed through the runway, and then came back. Guests acted as passengers, was driving the engineers at Tesla that had long trained.

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July 19, 2006, ori/Flickr

Towards the end of both of the electric car began to make strange noises. At the time of the set speed, the drivers heard a thumping from the rear of the car. The top mount for the engine was made of magnesium alloy, and it broke. But, says Eberhard, the cars performed from the point of view of visitors. Everyone who had been inside, dramatically changed their minds about electric cars.

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July 19, 2006, ori/Flickr

Like Eberhard and Musk were on the scene. Eberhard made more of an impression than an unknown Musk. And this is not surprising: at that time the head of SpaceX was not now existing cult. Musk was visibly nervous, his behavior was not natural. Against this background, Eberhard looked much more spectacular, stronger than he's been able to get people to be interested and believe in the trend, remembers friend Martin Stephen Kasner. As a result, Eberhard was interviewed for the interview and talked to him dozens of representatives of television, radio and print. So with Tesla Motors associated figure of Martin Eberhard.

Attempt to reach buyers were successful. Two weeks later, Tesla had 127 orders.

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It looked like the card received by each of the one hundred first customers. It is the signature of Eberhard, Tarpenning and Mask.

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Successful also was working with the press. Harrigan remembers that he had accumulated clippings in three full paper clamp. The company did not limit its attention to the publications related to the automotive industry, active work was conducted with financial logs level Fortune. Tesla also took a huge colorful spread in Wired. The media was satisfied. CNET wrote: "as soon As the driver slams the gas pedal, throwing passengers to the back seat". The Washington Post described not as a Roadster electric car from the past, but as a sports car, which is more Ferrari than Prius. The New York Times wrote that Tesla produces a very specialized, very expensive and very fast car. published 


P. S. And remember, only by changing their consumption — together we change the world! ©


Source: geektimes.ru/post/251022/


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