The bitter lawsuit between Tesla Motors and estranged founder Martin Eberhard continues to be a distraction from the company's record of real accomplishment. The company's announcement of a new showroom in Manhattan was followed by a court date for tomorrow in California's San Mateo County Superior Court.
Tesla's Elon Musk wants to put the lawsuit behind him, and he's seeking to have it tossed out of court. He calls it "a fictionalized, inaccurate account of Tesla's early years." Musk maintains he put up 98% of the money for the company ($6.35 million) compared to Eberhard's $75,000. And he says, "Eberhard has simultaneously implied that I had nothing to do with the creation of the Roadster and that I micro-managed the design and thus caused the cost overruns. Obviously, those claims are mutually exclusive."
In the lawsuit, Eberhard says he "led the development of the Roadster from its inception and design through the safety and performance testing that validated the Roadster's ability to achieve zero to 60 mph in less than four seconds, as well as its breakthrough 250-mile range per charge."
Musk says costs ballooned because every major system had to be redesigned, and "we essentially had to spend the development money twice. Eberhard wants Musk to stop referring to himself as a founder of Tesla. But Musk maintains that his "two years of 100-hour work-weeks" rebuilding the company gives him that right.
I don't care who founded Tesla, only that it ramp up production and get more EVs on the road. There are a lot of positive signs, including a $465 million infusion of federal Department of Energy money to build a factory for the four-door Model S sedan in Southern California, and a second battery plant near San Francisco. Tesla was the only independent thus honored, with Ford and Nissan. And then there's the Daimler investment--the German carmaker now owns "nearly 10%" of the company, and I'm sure the Germans would want to see the lawsuit go away, too. Don't be all that surprised if it all gets settled quietly.
In the photo is Elon Musk (center), the author (right) and Remy C.
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