5 Ups and Downs at Tesla Motors

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Tesla Motors has been in the news a lot recently, and not entirely for reasons a business should be thrilled about. The company’s entrepreneurial founder, billionaire Elon Musk, has drawn plenty of attention to his electric car company through his own activities, namely developing a private spaceship and designing a radical new method of overland travel called the Hyperloop. But Tesla itself has also drawn headlines. For weeks, those headlines all seemed to be bad news for the carmaker, but suddenly there have been some sunnier reports as well. Perhaps the company is simply experiencing the growing pains associated with a radically new approach to building automobiles.

5 CEO Elon Musk Almost Let the Company Collapse in 2008

In a recently released interview, Elon Musk, founder of both Tesla Motors and the SpaceX Corporation, revealed that he almost had to choose between the two companies he had founded when he was left with barely enough capital to fund both ventures. Musk decided, after much heartache, to split his funds and keep both companies alive, despite knowing it might mean the collapse of both. Ultimately the gamble worked out, but for a while both companies were on the chopping block, first one at a time and then together.

4 The Company’s Stock Prices Have Seesawed This Year

For several years after its founding, share prices of Tesla Motors hovered around the $40 mark. Then, in the spring of 2013, the company began to see its stock price rising. And it did so fast enough that a comparison between a SpaceX rocket ship is not far off the mark. The shares were soon flirting with a $200 price tag. But in the wake of several reported vehicle fires and subsequent investigations, Tesla’s stock price has fallen again, dropping to trade near $120.

3 3 Tesla Model S Cars Have Caught on Fire

In a matter of months, cars from Tesla Motors went from being the futuristic, eco-friendly darlings of the auto industry to being the subject of intense scrutiny and concern. This is due to three separate incidents of the Lithium-Ion battery-powered Model S sedan catching on fire. There were two incidents in the United States and one in Mexico, and all three fires seem to have been caused by road debris impacting with the undercarriage of the moving vehicles. No one was injured by the vehicle fires, but they have nonetheless made Tesla the object of an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

2 Elon Musk Fired Right Back

In response to the sudden outpouring of concern and criticism leveled at Tesla Motors following the recent vehicle fires, CEO Musk was unrelenting in his defense of the company. Musk took to his blog and fired off a few loaded sentences, including the lines: "Since the Model S went into production mid last year, there have been over 400 deaths and 1,200 serious injuries in the United States alone due to gasoline car fires, compared to zero deaths and zero injuries due to Tesla fires anywhere in the world." Perhaps his approach lacks diplomacy, but perhaps he is also right to point out the imbalanced scrutiny applied to his company’s offerings based largely on their simply being new and different.

1 The Tesla Model S Received Stunning Owner Satisfaction Scores

It seems Elon Musk was right to robustly defend his company and its Model S sedans in the face of negative attention following a few incidents of vehicle fires. In a Consumer Reports poll, one of the most trusted surveys in the industry, Model S owners reported overwhelmingly high levels of satisfaction with their vehicles. The Model S received a 99 out of 100 point approval rating on average, a number hardly ever achieved by any vehicle.

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