In a lengthy rebuke on Tesla’s website, Elon Musk writes that estranged Tesla co-founder Martin Eberhard is a liar.
While Eberhard tries to paint himself as the wronged founder of Tesla, Musk says Eberhard was an inept executive who did little to make the Roadster a reality.
Musk: “The facts are that when I requested through AC Propulsion to meet Eberhard, he had no technology of his own, he did not have a prototype car and he owned no intellectual property relating to electric cars. All he had was a business plan to commercialize the AC Propulsion Tzero electric sports car concept. Three years later, when Eberhard was asked to leave Tesla, most of the work that he had been paid to do had to be redone.”
One of the biggest beefs in Eberhard’s lawsuit is that Musk pretends to be a founder of Tesla, when in fact, he’s just an investor who took over the company. Musk disagrees. “Tesla hadn’t even registered or obtained the trademark to its name and had no formal offices or assets,” before Musk arrived. For this reason, amongst others, “by any reasonable definition of the word” Musk thinks he should be considered a founder.
On Eberhard’s claim that, “Musk took persistent and distracting interest in random details of marginal importance.” Musk says:
There were several smaller items I suggested, such as the touchpad door latch that Eberhard tries to use as an excuse for why it cost over $140M to bring the Roadster to market instead of the $25M that he estimated in the 2004 business plan. That would have to be one hell of door latch!
In fact, Musk details a number Eberhard decisions that drove the cost of the car through the roof:
- Eberhard had made production commitments to Lotus, but couldn’t use them and was hit with a $4M penalty.
- Eberhard’s first choice for body supplier ultimately ended up costing Tesla $5M.
- Eberhard’s went through numerous transmission designs which cost Tesla several million dollars and didn’t work.
- There were also a host of smaller pre-production problems that each cost several hundred thousand to a million dollars to solve, such as switching to an HVAC system that worked consistently and getting rid of an obsolete stereo/navigation head unit.
This isn’t the last we’re going to hear from either Musk or Eberhard on this story. Musk says this is just a partial response, “We will be responding fully in court soon.”
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