Elon Musk and Tesla: On the verge of bankruptcy

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Text comes from: Elon Musk: Wie Elon Musk die Welt verändert – Die Biografie (2015) of Ashlee Vance, published by Münchener Verlagsgruppe (MVG), Reprints by friendly permission of the publisher.
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In the personnel costs Tesla had saved pretty cleverly - not so in technique and material. This soon avenged.

tesla elon-musk-bankrupt

Here writes for you:


Ashlee Vance vanceAshlee Vance is a journalist for New York Times and CNN.


From the author:




Saving and spending money

Instead of seasoned engineers, who probably would not have worked hard enough for 120.000 dollars a year, that did Company fresh Stanford grads for 45.000 dollars.

In terms of technology and material, however, Tesla was frighteningly spendy. No one liked the internal software to capture the material bills, so some people used them and some did not - and those who did it often made serious mistakes.

Costs poorly calibrated

Sometimes they simply took the cost of parts for the prototypes and estimated how much cheaper they would be if they were bought in bulk instead of obtaining specific offers for them.

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Once the software explained, every roadster would cost 68.000 dollars, which would have meant a profit of around 30.000 dollars apiece for Tesla. Everyone knew this number was wrong, but it was still passed on board. About the middle of 2007, Watkins turned his observations to Musk.

He was prepared for bad numbers, but confident that costs would decrease significantly over time through optimization of the production process and increasing sales. "Then Tim had seriously bad news for me," he says. It looked like each roadster would cost up to $ 200.000 to produce - and Tesla wanted to sell it for only around $ 85.000. "Even at full production volume it would have been about $ 170.000 or something insane," says Musk. "Of course it wasn't that important because every third car just fucking didn't work anyway."

The deposition of the CEO

Eberhard and Musk had been discussing some design questions for the car for years, but overall, they had got along very well. Neither of them could stand stupid people, and they certainly shared many visions of battery technology and their importance to the world. However, the costs of the roadster determined by Watkins were too much for their relationship.

For Musk, it looked as if Eberhard had made serious management mistakes by raising the cost of the parts so high. Then, in Musk's eyes, he had tried to conceal the difficult situation in front of the board, which was in principle fraud against the company. On the way to a speech before the Motor Press Guild in Los Angeles, Eberhard received a call from Musk. In a brief, unsuccessful conversation he learned that he would be replaced as CEO.

In August 2007, the Tesla board removed Eberhard as CEO and made him president of technology, which only exacerbated the problems. "Martin was so bitter and annoying," says Straubel. "I remember how he walked around the office and spread dissatisfaction while we were trying to get the car ready, the money was running out and everything was on a knife edge." In Eberhard's eyes, other people at Tesla had accused him of weak financial software that made it difficult to pinpoint the costs.

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The problems are increasing

He also believed that Watkins made the situation worse than it actually was. Startups in Silicon Valley see chaos as a normal mode of operation. “Valor was more used to older companies,” says Eberhard. “They found a mess and couldn't do anything with it. But it was just typical start-up chaos. " Apart from that, Eberhard had already asked the board to replace him as CEO and to find someone with more production experience.

While the year 2007 passed, the problems accumulated at Tesla. The carbon fiber body, which was so nice to look at, proved to be immensely difficult to paint. And Tesla had to try several companies to find one that did this job well. Sometimes there were mistakes in the battery packs and in the engine occasional shorts.

There were visible gaps between the body panels. The company also had to accept the reality that there would be no two-speed gearbox. In order to allow the Roadster to accelerate quickly enough from 0 to 100, the engineers had to redesign the motor and inverter and save some weight. "We basically had to do a complete restart," says Musk, "it was terrible."

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