Anyone looking to start a new auto company in the US will soon be reminded that the last successful start-up in this Industry Chrysler was founded in 1925.

Factory hall

Where did the know-how come from?

Even the design and construction of a completely new car entails plenty of challenges, but it is even more difficult, enough Money and know-how for mass production – this is precisely what has prevented all recent attempts.

The Tesla founders were aware of these realities. They considered that Tesla had produced an electric motor a century ago and that it seemed entirely possible to develop a drive that would transfer the power of such a motor to the wheels.

The really scary part of their venture was building the factory to make the car and its parts. But the more the Tesla men learned about the industry, the more it became clear to them that even the big manufacturers were no longer actually producing their cars themselves.

How is Tesla organized?

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Long gone were the days when Henry Ford had raw materials delivered to one end of his Michigan factory and finished cars at the other end. “BMW produced its windshields or seat cushions or rearspiegel no longer himself,” says Tarpenning. “The only thing the big car companies were still doing in-house was internal combustion engine research, sales and Marketing and the finishing. We naively thought that we could just use the same suppliers for our parts.”

The plan of the TeslaFounder was, part of Technology to license what AC Propulsion had developed for the tzero; they wanted to use the Lotus Elise as the chassis for their car. British automaker Lotus launched the two-door Elise in 1996, and it certainly looked sleek and low enough to appeal to high-end car buyers. After discussions with some people from the car dealership industry, the TeslaTeamto forego such partners and prefer to go directly sell. With these basic considerations in mind, the three men went looking for venture capital for her in January 2004 Projects.

The investors

In order to give investors something to touch, the founders lent a tzero of AC Propulsion and drove into Sandhill Road in Menlo Park, the venture capital mile of Silicon Valley. The car accelerated faster than a Ferrari, which caused instinctive interest among the financiers.

On the other hand, these people often lacked imagination and they did not manage to ignore the modest plastic work of the mop-up kit car. The only venture capital providers to bite were Compass Technology Partners and SD Ventures. And not even the ones were really enthusiastic.

The right attitude: why not?

The main partner at Compass had earned a lot of money with NuvoMedia and felt obliged to Eberhard and Tarpenning. “He said: 'It's stupid, but I've invested in every automotive start-up over the past 40 years, so why not,'” reports Eberhard. But Tesla still needed a lead investor who was to raise the majority of the $ 7 million with which a so-called mule was to be built. This prototype should be the first milestone and that Corporate serve as a physically presentable argument for the next round of financing.

From the start, Eberhard and Tarpenning had Musk in mind as a potential lead investor. A few years earlier, at a Mars Society conference in Stanford, the two had one Rede heard from him talking about his vision of sending mice into space.

This is how Elon Musk came to Tesla

This gave them the impression that he thought differently than others and was perhaps open to them Idea of an electric car would be. The idea of ​​trying to get Musk an investor in Tesla Motors became more concrete when AC Propulsion's Tom Gage called Eberhard and told him that Musk was looking for financing opportunities in electric cars. On a Friday, Eberhard and Wright flew to Los Angeles to meet Musk.

The following weekend, Musk holed Tarpenning, who couldn't make it Ask to the business model. “I just remember answering, answering, answering,” says Tarpenning. "On Monday Martin and I flew to him again and he said, 'Okay, I'm in.'"

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