Solar company Cogenra is suing Elon Musk’s SolarCity over the use of shingling technology the company alleges SolarCity took from Cogenra and used to create a world-record breaking solar panel.
Cogenra says it shared its “most precious and confidential trade secrets, manufacturing processes, and other intellectual property with Silevo and SolarCity” between 2010 and 2014.
Silevo is a subsidiary of SolarCity and the complaint alleges these trade secrets gave SolarCity a leg up in manufacturing its own solar cells.
“It was only by misappropriating Cogenra’s proprietary technology, including its trade secrets and other intellectual property, that SolarCity and Silevo were later able to announce a claim that they set a new world record for solar panel energy efficiency,” Cogenra said in the suit.
The complaint also says Cogenra began shopping itself around to bigger solar companies in 2014 and, according to sources who spoke to Bloomberg, one of those companies considered a potential buyer was SolarCity. The possible acquisition allegedly gave SolarCity access to classified information.
However, SolarCity calls the lawsuit “meritless” and says the whole thing began after it alerted SunPower to an ex-SolarCity employee who had unlawfully downloaded confidential information from the company and recently joined SunPower, Cogenra’s parent company, as a senior sales manager.
“Instead of taking responsibility and ensuring the return of our misappropriated trade secrets, SunPower subsidiary Cogenra raced to court to divert attention from its conduct by filing a meritless lawsuit,” SolarCity told TechCrunch. “Cogenra’s complaint fails to identify any actual trade secret that Cogenra owns, much less that SolarCity supposedly misappropriated. We are confident the court ultimately will reject Cogenra’s claims, which are factually and legally baseless.”
Read more "SolarCity accused of misappropriating solar company Cogenra’s trade secrets"
Tesla hasn’t historically been bad at capital discipline; over the course of a year, it has a fraction of what a GM or Ford or Toyota might spend in a quarter, so it has to watch every penny. But CEO Elon Musk and his team are now in triple-secret double-down mode — I know that doesn’t make any sense, but Tesla future investment requirement are almost comically ambitious — and from the perspective of leadership, it would be dumb to let the stock slip before heading back to the markets to raise money. Musk wants to produce 500,000 vehicles annually by 2018, and getting there ain’t gonna be cheap.
The bottom line is that Tesla sees its stock price as a means to an end. The company’s own investment thesis, such as it is, asks investors to take a long-term view: Tesla will be a major player in the future of transportation. Whatever happens with the stock price day-to-day is a distraction. All that matters is that Tesla shares be considered valuable when it’s time to create a new cash pile.
Tesla is right on the edge of crossing a river when it comes to how it spends money. As it gets bigger and has to manage more lines of business, capital efficiency will become vastly more important. But for now, Tesla’s capital exists to be spent, and that’s clearly freaking out the analysts who cover the company.
Read more "Why the market is freaking out about Tesla"
Der Spiegel says the Transport Ministry called the feature a “considerable traffic hazard.”
The Autopilot function on Tesla’s Model S car represents a “considerable traffic hazard,” according to an internal report for Germany’s Transport Ministry seen by magazineDer Spiegel.
Experts in the Federal Highway Research Institute carried out tests on the electric car and criticized it on a number of points, the magazine reported on Friday.
For example, drivers are not alerted by the Autopilot system when the vehicle gets into a situation that the computer cannot solve, Spiegel cited the report as saying.
In addition, the car’s sensors do not detect far back enough during an overtaking maneuver, while the emergency brake also performs inadequately, according to the report.
Spiegel said Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt was aware of the report but did not want to take the model out of service.
The ministry told Reuters a final evaluation had not yet been taken and further tests were being conducted.
Read more "German Government Report Critical of Tesla Autopilot"
While many commentators have expressed disbelief that a CEO is not aware of the Company’s discounting practices, let’s give Mr. Musk the benefit of doubt. It is not that difficult to see that this unfocussed CEO does not know what is going on in his Company. Life is too busy contemplating life on Mars and trying to force the wrongheaded acquisition of SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY).
However, if Mr. Musk did not know the sales practices at Tesla, it brings forth a whole different set of questions:
- How can a competent CEO not know the sales practices at his Company? If the argument is that Mr. Musk does not have the time, then we suggest that the Company’s board is once again asleep at the wheel.
- What was Mr. Musk expecting that his sales teams would do when he sent a company-wide email to push hard to get strong Q3 results ahead of capital raise?
- Does Mr. Musk not discuss sales and promotional strategies with his sales and finance teams?
- Is Mr. Musk not aware that Tesla builds spec cars (also called “inventory”) which are not build-to-suit?
Read more "Musk’s Tweet Fails To Recognize That Tesla Has Crossed The Rubicon With The Inventory Model"
Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder and chief executive, has called the failure “the most difficult and complex” the company has ever had. About a week after the explosion, he pleaded with the public to turn in video or audio recordings of the blast and said that the company has not ruled out sabotage as a factor.
“Particularly trying to understand the quieter bang sound a few seconds before the fireball goes off,” he wrote on Twitter. “May come from rocket or something else.”
Since then, SpaceX, which is leading the investigation with help from the Air Force, NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration, said it is narrowing down on the cause of the explosion, focusing on a breach in a second-stage helium system.
At a conference in Mexico this week, Musk said that finding out what went wrong is the company’s “absolute top priority,” but he said what caused the explosion is still unknown.
“We’ve eliminated all of the obvious possibilities for what occurred there,” he said. “So what remains are the less probable answers.”
He didn’t say what those might be.
The Air Force’s 45th Space Wing, which is helping SpaceX with the investigation, declined to comment because the investigation is ongoing.
Read more "Implication of sabotage adds intrigue to SpaceX investigation"
California regulators, it turns out, take a dim view of Tesla Motors’ Autopilot — not the self-steering system itself, but the name.
In draft regulations released late Friday, the state Department of Motor Vehicles said car companies should not use the terms “self-driving,” “automated” or “auto-pilot” in advertising unless their cars are capable of driving themselves without human passengers paying attention.
For Palo Alto’s Tesla, that could pose a problem.
The company’s Autopilot system, available in both the Model S electric sedan and Model X SUV, can steer on its own and change lanes. But the human driver is supposed to remain ready to take the wheel whenever needed.
The fatal crash in May of a Tesla driver who appeared to be watching a Harry Potter video while Autopilot drove his car made the need for that requirement clear.
Read more "California to Tesla: Don’t call it ‘Autopilot’"
A group of 10 Republican members of Congress wrote Thursday that they are increasingly concerned about SpaceX’s ability to safely fly NASA astronauts and national security satellites after the company recently suffered its second rocket explosion in just over a year.
In a letter to the Air Force, NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration, the group said SpaceX should not be leading the investigation into its most recent failure, and that authority should be turned over to the federal government “to ensure that proper investigative engineering rigor is applied.”
Last year, an unmanned Falcon 9 rocket exploded a couple minutes after it launched a resupply mission to the International Space Station, destroying $118 million worth of cargo. Then, earlier this month, another Falcon 9 rocket blew up as it was being fueled ahead of an engine test. A $195 million commercial satellite sitting on top of the rocket was lost in the fireball.
“These failures could have spelled disaster, even loss of life, had critical national security payloads or NASA crew been aboard those rockets,” wrote the members, many of whom represent states where SpaceX’s chief competitor, the United Launch Alliance, has a strong presence.
SpaceX declined to comment. After the Sept. 1 explosion, SpaceX founder Elon Musk said on Twitter that the Dragon capsule would have been able to abort in time, ferrying the astronauts on board to safety.
The company has said it is narrowing down the cause of the explosion, pinpointing a breach in a second-stage helium system. Earlier this week, Musk said the investigation was “vexing and difficult.” He stressed that finding out what went wrong is the company’s “absolute top priority” but said what actually caused the explosion was still unknown.
Read more "Business House Republicans cite concerns over SpaceX explosion"