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Tesla history articles for those writing a book

Discussion in 'Tesla Motors' started by TEG, May 29, 2007.

  1. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Tidbits to track down for someone's research:

    JB Li-Ion explosion party. (Testing cells in the early days to see how easy they are to blow up)

    Martin meets Ian Wright on a plane to Tokyo.
    http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_19/b3983077.htm
    "The year was 1998, and Ian M. Wright had just settled into his business-class seat for an 11-hour flight from San Francisco to Tokyo. As he delved into a book on experimental aircraft, he noticed the thirty-something man next to him reading over his shoulder. Right away he suspected he was in familiar company -- another Silicon Valley computer geek with a secret passion for gears and propulsion.
    ...
    Wright, then a 42-year-old senior director of engineering at Network Equipment Technologies Inc. and an amateur race car builder and driver, struck up a conversation with Martin Eberhard, founder of electronic-book company NuvoMedia Inc. By the time they landed at Narita International, they had discovered not only a shared interest in alternative vehicles but also that they lived a quarter-mile from each other in Woodside, Calif. Four years later they would be working together, having launched the Valley's first bid to build a high-performance electric car, Tesla Motors Inc."
    http://money.cnn.com/2006/05/04/technology/business2_wrightspeed/index.htm

    Martin's time spent trying to get AC Propulsion to build what he ultimately decided to do on his own (with Elon's help)

    JB meets with Elon to talk EVs:
    http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/05/tesla200705?currentPage=2
    "One day, Elon Musk had lunch in L.A. with an impassioned young engineer named JB Straubel to gossip about new technologies. At his private company, SpaceX, in the industrial suburb of El Segundo, by the Los Angeles airport, Musk was building manned spaceships, to be test-launched from his own Pacific atoll.
    ...
    But Straubel could top that: his friends at Alan Cocconi's shop had just put a lithium-ion pack into a T Zero with amazing results. Musk's eyes lit up. At Stanford, before he'd dropped out to join the Internet revolution, he'd intended to study the potential of high-energy-density capacitors. He wanted to see this car.
    ...
    A month later, Cocconi brought his T Zero over to SpaceX. As soon as Musk climbed into it, he realized it was acutely uncomfortable, very likely a death trap, and hopelessly unmarketable. "I want to buy it," he said.
    ...
    Cocconi shook his head. "It's not for sale," he said.
    ...
    "Then put a lithium-ion pack in my car," Musk proposed. "I have a Porsche. You can take the guts out of it and make it an electric. I'd be willing to pay you up to a quarter-million dollars."
    ...
    "Maybe you ought to talk to this guy named Eberhard," Cocconi suggested. "He thinks the way you do."
     
  2. CEOswife

    CEOswife Member

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    Re: More

    Not quite a totally accurate history. It was Martin and Marc who started Tesla Motors. Ian was not in the picture in the very beginning. Six months after the company was founded, Ian asked Martin's advice for his presentation for an optical networking product company he was starting. Ian was getting no traction with the VCs, and Martin agreed to review and comment on his presentation. As a result, Martin offered to show Ian his presentation as an example VC pitch. Ian liked the presentation, but he also liked Tesla more than his own idea. Within a very short time, he shut his own company down and joined Tesla with Martin and Marc. So while Ian was an early employee, he was not a founder.
     
  3. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Re: More

    Thanks for the clarification.

    Care to give any insight on why Ian decided to leave?

    Was he impatient to get a car out sooner, and decided to "home brew" the X1 rather than wait for the Roadster to get designed?
    Did he think the Roadster approach was too much of a compromise from his idea of what he wanted to see get built?

    Did he leave before the Roadster was even underway? The X1 seems to use many ACP off-the-shelf components, so I would have thought Ian would want to stick around if he had seen what Tesla was going to do with the motor and ESS.
     
  4. CEOswife

    CEOswife Member

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    I think I will let the historians answer this one.
     
  5. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Re: More

    Well, the Vanity Fair article offers some version of the history:
    http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/05/tesla200705?currentPage=5

    ""
    For all their success, not everyone at Tesla felt the car was on the right course. Ian Wright, 51, Tesla's first head of vehicle development, is a New Zealand–born computer engineer and amateur racer who signed on almost as soon as the company was founded. He'd even helped make the original pitch to Elon Musk, joining Eberhard on that fateful trip to SpaceX. Wright loved the Roadster. He just didn't feel that Musk's grand scheme of producing cheaper follow-ons made sense. "I didn't want to go the route of family cars," Wright explains. "I want even higher performance."

    Wright's point is that most Americans spend no more than $2,000 on gas a year. How much of a premium would they pay for an E.V. that saved them $1,000 a year in fuel costs? Would they buy a $30,000 car, let alone a $50,000 one, that did that? Perhaps some would, he concedes. But wouldn't they be the ones who would have bought a Prius hybrid instead? And if so, what was the difference between a Prius that got 50 miles per gallon and an E.V. that got the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon? A mere doubling of the efficiency of a modest number of cars. "So replacing the Prius with an E.V.," Wright argued, "doesn't solve the problem."

    Better, Wright said, to make even higher-performance E.V.'s to replace ever higher-performance gas cars. If Wright could replace 10,000 high-performance gas cars that got 10 miles per gallon with high-performance E.V.'s that got 100 miles per gallon, that would be meaningful. "It's certainly true that gas will get more expensive and batteries will get cheaper, and eventually you'll get a mass market," Wright argued. "But in the meantime the answer is high performance."

    So Wright left to design his own two-seat racecar, the Wrightspeed X1. He says it accelerates from 0 to 60 in three seconds. But it's still a concept car in search of an angel. "We were very lucky finding Elon at Tesla," Wright says. "You can't always get that kind of luck, and in fact I haven't."
    ""
     
  6. CEOswife

    CEOswife Member

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    Please be aware that I took so many exceptions to the Vanity Fair article that I would not let Martin read it. I would certainly hate to quote that article as accurate history. Those of us who have "taken the Tesla ride" all have our own versions of the story. ;)
     
  7. Michael

    Michael Member

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    It seems as though Tesla is going down a path of providing vehicles with higher performance when compared to equivalent ICE vehicles. I'm certainly expecting that the White Star will outperform any other sedan that it will be compared to and at the same time provide an equivalent level of luxury. The added bonus of it's being electric should make it a no brainer.
     
  8. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Re: More

    Yeah. I am sorry to be on the "outside looking in". It sure seems like a fun ride so far!
     
  9. malcolm

    malcolm Active Member

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    Can't really believe the Vanity fair article is accurate. Even Mr Wright must be aware that gas prices are creeping up, making them an increasingly greater component in overall running costs.

    Methinks he doth protest too much. ;)
     
  10. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Re: More

    I don't find a lot of quotes from Marc on the web. Is he "press shy" and wants to stay out of the limelight?

    Or am I looking in the wrong places?
     
  11. CEOswife

    CEOswife Member

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    I should not speak for Marc, but that man is incredibly busy! He is currently CFO --AND-- VP of Electrical Engineering. Not to mention, he has a wife and kids with whom he enjoys spending time. Cut him some slack for not engaging with the press as much as Martin and others.
     
  12. DaveDen

    DaveDen Guest

    Re: More

    CEOswife, I have a request that I'd like you to consider.  It seems to me that there should be a history written about Tesla.  I think you're in an excellent position to be the one that writes, or at least documents, that history.  You seem to have a little time on your hands, according to one or two of your posts.  You're in the position to get the inside scoop on the real story.  No matter what happens to Tesla, whether it is wildly successful (I certainly hope it is; I'm all signed up to get a Roadster early next year), or a failure, or somewhere in between, I suspect that there will be many people that will want to know "what happened?".  The few biography and history books that I've read have always pointed to the high value of documents and writings of the people involved in the making of the history.  Tesla has the potential of leaving an indelible mark on our society.  It would be a shame if there wasn't a good collection of source material from which to write its story. So, would you please consider taking on the role of historian, official or not? It would be good to read an article or a book a few years from now that will tell me the "real" story, apart from the distortions that the press and outsiders will surely put out about it.
     
  13. W8MM

    W8MM R1.5 #325 + Mdl S #01380

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    Re: More

    That's a great idea.  But, it's a tall order.

    It is easier said than done to write the "real" story about an entrepreneurial venture.  Each member of the team (with requisite strong ego) will have their unique point of view as to "why" some event occurred or "who" came up with a pivotal idea.  Once the ball gets rolling down the hill, some ideas will prove to have merit while others will prove inconsequential, or even detrimental.  If things are going well, credit for success will be spread around every which way in a spontaneous reciprocation that keeps spirits high.  If things don't go as planned, there will be a temptation to blame a downturn on someone or some unfortunate decision.  It's been said, "Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan."   How does one do a paternity test of important events in a dynamic, fast moving enterprise?  The only opportunity for clarity would be those ideas that were opposed by absolutely everybody (apart from the idea's champion) which turned out to be advantageous.  Few opportunities for such clarity are available.  How would an idea with a single, lonely proponent ever be pushed uphill to fruition in the first place?  Maybe it's the CEO's idea?

    The above may seem tediously obvious.  Nevertheless, it makes getting the "true" story more than elusive because there is really no way around the situation.  History is said to be written by the winners.  Do the winners have a better perspective on the "real" story than anybody else?   Journalists and fashionable writers get beat up for having short attention spans, jumping to unwarranted conclusions and writing from positions of preconceived notions or thinly-veiled agendas.  It's hard to judge whether outsiders or insiders have a more balanced perspective.  Outsiders bring an ability to compare events across a broad scope, but can't know everything about their subject.  Insiders have more details and are closer to the facts, but are partial to a particular point of view about the value of contributions by various factions within the organization. It is truly difficult to separate the story from the story teller.

    How the story is gathered and told would be just as fascinating to me as the published result.  Both would be a great read.
     
  14. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Re: More

    Well said. When you are too close to something you can lose perspective.
     
  15. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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  16. CEOswife

    CEOswife Member

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    Oh my! How did I leave anyone with the impression I have free time? I have two small children who are busy in their own right (school, gymnastics, horseback riding, and soon to add swimming. Not to mention, they have busy social lives.). I also run two households which are 400 miles apart. I am trying to do a fairly extensive remodel on our primary residence, plus some work at the other one. This includes installing solar panels on both houses this summer. Just to mix it up, I am heavily involved in one of our local organizations that frequently takes large chunks of my time. When you add in Martin’s travel schedule, plus the fact that we have a commuter marriage to begin with, I am quite busy keeping our family life running. In fact, over the next few weeks Martin is home just a few hours between trips (This means when anything breaks, I own it and have to get it fixed, usually before Martin finds out and I have to explain in EXCRUCIATING detail what happened, what broke, mode of failure, and how I fixed it. I must also find a way to dispose of any trash that might reveal my activities.). As proof of my schedule, I typically post late at night after the kids are in bed.

    As for my complaint with the Vanity Fair article, the author did not interview Martin. Did you notice that he was not quoted? The reporter obviously talked to Elon, Marc, and JB, which was great, but how can you write an article on the history of Tesla without talking to Martin? I mean, come on, the reporter even talked to Ian Wright, but not Martin? When the reporter described Martin as a “slight and mild mannered man,” I knew that he did not meet him. For those of you have not met Martin, he is 6-foot, 2-inches tall with a very strong personality that ensures that he usually gets his way. How else could he have gotten Tesla this far? By being meek and mild mannered? Also, I felt the article in general made Martin sound like a dolt. It also seemed to stress conflict between Martin and Elon. Granted, they are both very intelligent, strongly opinionated men, but there is really very little conflict between them. In fact, they have the same vision for Tesla, and get along amazingly well. In my opinion, the cooperation between the two of them is what has allowed Tesla to go from an idea in Martin’s head to getting very close to a production car in 4 years. I have heard that GM and Ford take 5 years to get an all new car out the door, and they have a corporate structure, staff designers, engineers, factories, supply chain, and distribution system in place already. Martin and Marc started from NOTHING. They were just two guys in an office in Menlo Park with no money. Please remember, Tesla is building a company while they build a car. I think that fact is frequently lost as people look at Tesla.

    I must confess that I keep a file of press clippings and other bits of info that I hope Martin will someday be able to use if I ever get him to retire enough to write his autobiography. There is no way I could do the story justice. Plus, I do not write with Martin’s flair. In case you did not notice, I write like an engineer: dull, boring, and to the point. Also, there are just so many stories with which I am not involved. The good news for you guys is that Martin has no plans to retire anytime soon!
     
  17. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    Re: More

    Wow, that last note from CEOswife almost makes me believe the poster actually knows Martin.

    I mean, has CEOswife actually said anything that is true Tesla news or something that is not public knowledge or just plain made up?

    On the Tesla blog there is a Carolyn (SP?) that also claims to be "Mrs. Tesla". How can we know that just because someone says they are a person in this cyber world that they actually are? I supposed a Martin blog or editor comment in the Tesla pages could confirm it ---but it's more fun keeping the mystery!

    Really I'm just kidding. It's like we at teslamotorsclub have our own private window that looks into the greatest company in the world.

    As long as the kids are sleeping.
     
  18. CEOswife

    CEOswife Member

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    Sigh, how does one prove they really exist? :-\
     
  19. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Don't worry - I believe you!

    I too have two little ones in tow. They sure are fun though. I hope Martin finds enough time to be with his family. He seems to be everywhere at once, so I imagine he is constantly on the road, being interviewed, conducting interviews, attending meetings, and all that. Those kids grow up fast so you have to make the time to be with them while you can.

    Now on the other hand I don't want to suggest anything that will slow Martin down. His aspirations could lead to a better future for all of our kids.

    I want to thank Martin for pursuing his dream. Because of him I can toss out all those old notes and drawings I had been collecting as I dreamt of someday building something like the Roadster... Now that it is here, I needn't bother.... (Just need to save a lot of $) I can also toss out a lot of old car magazines with dream cars of days past. They are all passé now that the Roadster takes their place.

    Back in the 80's I used to ride my motorcycle up to Skyline with the Alice's restaurant crowd. In the 90's I was driving the MR2 up there. Around 2000 I wanted to buy a house there, but my wife refused saying the endless days fighting traffic on the twisty roads were just not worth it. Driving hwy 35/84//9 makes one yearn for a car like the Roadster. I bet if your family didn't live in those hills the Roadster dream wouldn't have taken flight.

    Of course we have to give Elon the big thumbs up. He stepped firmly on the dream accelerator pedal. ;D
     
  20. malcolm

    malcolm Active Member

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    Stop hyperventilating ;D

    Er....this is just starting to make me feel uneasy. Private window? Inside scoop? All very interesting, but in the end the posting traffic will only be one way.

    CEOswife, please could you start an Off Topic thread on your progress with the solar panel installation? Will there be battery systems and if so how are you planning to integrate them into the house electrics?

    (And before anyone asks, no this isn't Martin checking up on progress :) )
     

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