Welcome to Round 2 of the latest Tesla Motors feud. The electric car startup’s CEO, Elon Musk, has just written a post on the official company blog countering the claims of founder Martin Eberhard, who alleges that Musk has libeled and slandered him, and that Tesla has breached several agreements over severance, stock options and his Roadster purchase — and Musk makes a few claims of his own about Eberhard’s role in founding Tesla. Musk stops short of a countersuit, but he says Tesla will respond “fully in court soon.”
In addition to announcing that Tesla’s Roadster material costs have dropped to $80,000 per vehicle this month and that the company expects production of the Roadster to “cross over into profitability next month,” Musk has plenty to say about the specific allegations in Eberhard’s lawsuit — mostly centered on his belief that Eberhard “had no technology of his own…and he owned no intellectual property relating to electric cars” when Musk first became involved with Tesla. “Three years later,” Musk writes, “when Martin was asked to leave Tesla, most of the work that he had been paid to do had to be redone.”
This is the same argument that Musk has used to explain some of the delays and cost overruns of the Roadster. But today he also goes a step further, lobbing fuel into the fiery question of who really deserves the title of “founder” of the startup. Referring to Tesla CTO JB Straubel, Ian Wright and Marc Tarpenning, Musk writes (emphasis added):
JB was recognized as 2008 innovator of the year by MIT for his work on the Roadster and, by any reasonable definition of the word, should certainly be considered a member of the founding team of Tesla, along with Eberhard, Tarpenning, Wright and me.
This is only the beginning, and we’ll be watching for Tesla and Musk’s legal response. Stay tuned.
Photo courtesy Tesla Motors