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Report: Elon Musk Almost Sold Tesla to Google in 2013

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 4/21/2015 Kelly Pleskot
Report: Elon Musk Almost Sold Tesla to Google in 2013 elon-musk-in-2012-tesla-model-s© Provided by MotorTrend elon-musk-in-2012-tesla-model-s

Despite all the hype surrounding the Tesla Model S P85D First Test" target="_blank">Model S since its introduction in June 2012, Tesla faced serious struggles for a long time. At one point, some people expected Tesla to join the ranks of Aptera, A123 Systems, and other failed EV ventures when customers complained of unruly door handles and other glitches, causing sales to plummet. This period of time was when Elon Musk reportedly approached Google about selling Tesla, and it makes us wonder, what would Tesla have been like under the tech giant's ownership?

Bloomberg reporter Ashlee Vance, author of Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, writes about the tragedy that was almost Tesla. In early 2013, customers who had pre-ordered Model S cars failed to follow through, and Musk discreetly shut down Tesla's factory. In a heated meeting, he reportedly said to employees from every department, “If we don’t deliver these cars, we are f---ed. So I don’t care what job you were doing. Your new job is delivering cars.”

Enter Google. Not only did Musk discuss selling Tesla with his friend and Google co-founder Larry Page, but the two were close to making it happen. Musk proposed that Google spend an estimated $6 billion to buy Tesla in its entirety as well as another $5 billion for factory expansions. He also wanted control of Tesla for at least 8 years, or until the company could push out a third-generation small electric car. They shook on the general proposal, but small details delayed the process. During the talks, Tesla's sales started pouring in and Musk cut off negotiations with Google. Later that year, Tesla posted its first quarterly profit.

Just what would a Google-run Tesla look like? As Quartz points out, Google could have blended its existing driverless car technology with Tesla's design and EV prowess, making a super vehicle for the ages. Maybe Tesla could have rolled out technologies a lot faster -- including a new Gigafactory and that elusive mass-market Model 3 sedan -- with Google's huge injections of cash. It looks like we'll never know for sure, and neither Tesla nor Google would confirm what happened long ago. But it's interesting considering recent rumors that suggest Apple has also been courting the EV company.

Source: Bloomberg Business, Quartz

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