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Tesla claims founder's lawsuit is 'fiction'

Opening broadsides in electrocar kingpin wrangle

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Spokespersons for electrocar company Tesla Motors - makers of the renowned Roadster li-ion battery sports car - have roundly disparaged a lawsuit mounted against the company and its helmsman, colourful space-rocket kingpin and PayPal hecamillionaire Elon Musk.

Tesla co-founder Martin Eberhard, ousted as CEO of the firm in 2007, alleges that he has been slandered and libelled by Musk since his departure. He adds that financial and production problems with the Roadster were not his doing but Musk's, and further contends that his promised "Founder's Series" Roadster was not supplied. Rather he was given an ordinary Roadster which had been "wrecked" in a collision by a company employee.

Eberhard has mounted suit for unspecified damages against Musk and Tesla in California's superior court.

A Tesla spokesperson, contacted yesterday for comment by the Reg, supplied us with this statement:

This lawsuit is a fictionalized account of Tesla's early years - it's twisted and wrong, and we welcome the opportunity to set the record straight. As the media have already covered exhaustively, Tesla’s full board of directors unanimously fired Martin shortly after discovering that the cost of the car was more than twice what Martin portrayed it to be at the time. Incidentally, Tesla will likely be filing counterclaims and in the process present an accurate account of the company's history.

Tesla says that Roadster production is now secure, following financial troubles remedied by cash injections from unnamed investors and then from Daimler, which now has a ten per cent stake in the company. Tesla also says it has profitable work supplying batteries and drivetrain tech to other makers.

It's possible to criticise the Roadster on certain aspects of its performance - mainly the lengthy charging period required after the battery runs down - and for its $100k price, which means it will never change the driving preferences of nations on its own. However it's one of very very few advanced-tech, new generation electric vehicles which are actually on the road in customers' hands, and for now Tesla's Roadster order book seems solid.

Whether or not Tesla can secure funds to build its planned Model S electrocar for everyman - the next stage of its and Musk's plan for an electrically propelled future - it now appears a safe bet that the firm will be around for the foreseeable future, and will have enough cash to make it worth suing.

Viewed in this way, Eberhard's lawsuit might actually be seen as a vote of confidence. ®

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