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Tesla Motors, new electric sportscar company, raises $40M from Google guys, others

Updated

TeslaMotors.gif
Tesla Motors, the Silicon Valley start-up building a mass-market electric sportscar, has raised $40 million in a third round of venture capital from a bunch of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and other gearheads you'd expect in this sort of deal.

They include the wealthy co-founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who have owned Prius', but who are now probably looking to upgrade. The news was reported this morning by VentureWire (subscription required).

The news is significant because alternative energy cars -- like the Prius -- until now have lacked flash, and some of the wealthy yet environmentally-conscious set have been hankering for something cooler -- a little more like a Ferrari.

We reported last month that PayPal co-founder Elon Musk had made an early major investment, and that Woodside resident Martin Eberhard had co-founded San Carlos-based Tesla. It has 70 employees.

And BusinessWeek reported Tesla had earlier raised $25M, had hired design firm IDEO to help with appearance, and suggested Tesla is customizing the chassis of the sporty Lotus Elise. (Update: Folks, sorry about this, but we've since been able to interview company founder Martin Eberhard, and he says BW got the IDEO and Lotus Elise stuff wrong -- no truth to them at all, he says. We'll be updating tomorrow with a link to our upcoming Mercury News story)

In this latest round, VantagePoint Venture Partners co-led the round, again with Musk. Musk is chief executive of SpaceX, a southern California company which is building space launch vehicles.

Other investors included Draper Fisher Jurvetson, another firm known for investing in early, risky technology, and the JP Morgan Bay Area Equity Fund. Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Nick Pritzker (through his investment partnership, Tao LLC), and Jeff Skoll, the first employee at eBay (through his investment company, Capricorn Management LLC), also invested, according to a company announcement cited by VentureWire.

loremo2.jpg
Loremo
Further details out in July, apparently. Sorry, no pictures. For now, we'll leave you with shots from the only real competitor that we're aware of, the Loremo, which is making two versions, a low-end zippy car, and a high-end one, but these will only be hitting the market in 2009.

Update: Here's Friday's Mercury News story about this.

Here's the official Tesla announcement.



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Comments

This is a very exciting product, but i can't help wondering how big the market is for such a vehicle. The Venturi Fetish is a similar car and costs $500,000 a piece. Although it has Porsche-like acceleration (the power of the electric engine torque) and interior quality, its top speed is 100 mph and I'm still amazed that they have lined up buyers ready to pay three times the price of a Ferrari. I'm sure Larry and Sergey can afford to make that kind of political statement, but who else?

Vincent on June 2, 2006 10:07 PM
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Tesla will be releasing their first production cars in Q4 to the "inside list" people, somewhere in the $100k arena. Then market the vehicles auction style, on eBay, starting at X.
Jeez, they outlawed incest in kentucky ;)

Rick Wagonner on June 5, 2006 2:55 PM
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All any of these electric vehicle companies need is a continuous charge electrical power source for car & home use which has just been patented..No more limitations on 250 to 300 miles of traveling then to charge up by pluging in....NO MORE

D Wallen on July 8, 2006 2:02 PM
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All any of these electric vehicle companies need is a continuous charge electrical power source for car & home use which has just been patented..No more limitations on 250 to 300 miles of traveling then to charge up by pluging in....NO MORE

D Wallen on July 8, 2006 2:02 PM
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All any of these electric vehicle companies need is a continuous charge electrical power source for car & home use which has just been patented..No more limitations on 250 to 300 miles of traveling then to charge up by pluging in....NO MORE

D Wallen on July 8, 2006 2:02 PM
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Why there are not technical information?

Without information I remember : http://www.mdi.lu/?newlang=eng

Elio on July 14, 2006 3:03 AM
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I just saw the news story on CNBC on the new Telsa Roadster. Too bad it's only for the wealthy instead of the everyday person. It's a sharp car.

Bob on July 19, 2006 2:20 PM
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Why not use a motor from UQM and avoid the complication of a gear box?

John Sved on July 20, 2006 2:26 PM
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So what is the price of this car? I wana buy one.

Bertran on July 21, 2006 4:46 AM
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where do i buy stock in this comany?

M/sandor on July 24, 2006 1:56 AM
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You can't. It is a private company, and will contineu to be private for some time -- unless it gets scooped up by GM or someone.

Matt Marshall on July 24, 2006 6:17 AM
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I'm waiting for the Model T version priced at $20K. An electric Jeep. Unless GM buys the company and we never hear of them again. Remember in the late 40s when GM, thru a front company, bought up all the electric streeet car companies, burned the cars and tore up the tracks so they could sell all those buses? Hopefully Tesla won't sell out.

Sparky on August 20, 2006 7:49 PM
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