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Tesla Co-Founders Settle Suit

September 22, 2009

SAN CARLOS, CA --- Tesla Motors Inc. CEO Elon Musk and former CEO Martin Eberhard have reportedly settled a defamation suit filed by Eberhard against Musk out of court. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, Musk and Eberhard have agreed that they, as well as three others, are officially equals and cofounders of Tesla. The automaker makes the all-electric Tesla Roadster. 

The litigation had largely centered around the right of Musk to call himself the founder of the company. Neither Musk nor Eberhard disclosed details of the settlement. However, a new statement released by the company referred to the men as "two of the co-founders of Tesla." The other co-founders, according to reports, are Chief Technology Officer J.B. Straubel and departed executives Marc Tarpenning and Ian Wright. 

Eberhard, who has sharply criticized Musk in the past, released a statement after the settlement that praised Musk: "Elon's contributions to Tesla have been extraordinary," he said. 

Likewise, Musk released a statement that said: "Without Martin's indispensable efforts, Tesla Motors would not be here today." 

Meanwhile, the company continues to make inroads in the marketing of its all-electric vehicles on a global scale. Tesla last week delivered its 700th vehicle at the Frankfurt Motor Show, where the company unveiled the production version of the Roadster Sport.

Musk handed the keys to an electric blue Roadster Sport to Lennart Hennig, a German law student in Bonn. Tesla has also delivered cars to customers in England, Switzerland, France, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Spain, Monaco and Sweden.

"I am a socially responsible consumer who considers the environmental impact of my purchases," said Hennig, 24. "As soon as I saw the Tesla web site in 2006, I knew I wanted to support a company dedicated to making more and more affordable vehicles so that mainstream people could have cars with a lower carbon footprint. I plan to drive this car every day so that people can see for themselves that the future of mobility is electric."

The 700th delivery came less than a week after Tesla opened a store in Munich (Blumenstr.17) -- its first regional sales and service center in continental Europe. Tesla opened its flagship London store in June and will open a store in Monaco later this year.

"Many of our customers are die-hard European sports car aficionados who switch to Roadsters over concern about climate change and the dangers of foreign oil addiction," Musk said. "And some customers buy the Roadster simply because it will beat the Porsche 911 or Audi R8 off the line every time."

Musk and Tesla Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen unveiled the production version of the second-generation Roadster and the Roadster Sport. The Frankfurt Motor Show also marked the European debut of the Model S, an all-electric, seven-passenger sedan that Tesla plans to begin producing in late 2011.

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