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*UPDATED* Three Tesla Employees Perish in Plane Crash

*UPDATED* Three Tesla Employees Perish in Plane Crash

A twin-engine aircraft crashed into power lines outside of Palo Alto, California, today, killing all three occupants — reportedly employees of Tesla Motors.

KTVU reports that the Cessna 310 plane, which was headed south, took off in extremely foggy conditions, and crashed shortly after takeoff. Witnesses described hearing two loud booms. One of the aircraft’s wings broke off and hit the back of a nearby house. The crash has reportedly also taken out power within a radius of the site.

Sources tell the TV station that the three men on board the plane were employees with Tesla, with the pilot reportedly being a “high-ranking official” at the company. The San Francisco Chronicle says the plane was owned by Doug Bourn, a senior electrical engineer at the EV company. It is still unknown at this point if he was flying the plane, or if he was even on board. A witness told KTVU that Tesla Chief Technical Officer JB Straubel, who is himself an accomplished pilot, was onboard, but the FAA has not confirmed who the passengers were. Contrary to some speculation based on his ownership of a plane, CEO Elon Musk was not onboard.

According to reports released on Thursday, February 18, the three Tesla employees on board the plane were senior electrical engineer Doug Bourn, electrical engineer Andrew Ingram, and Brian M. Finn, a senior interactive electronics manager, but Tesla and authorities have not confirmed these reports yet.

“Three Tesla employees were on board a plane that crashed in East Palo Alto early this morning,” Musk wrote in a statement. “We are withholding their identities as we work with the relevant authorities to notify the families. Our thoughts and prayers are with them. Tesla is a small, tightly-knit company, and this is a tragic day for us.”

Tesla representatives won’t comment on the accident until more information is known, only confirming that the three passengers were in fact Tesla employees. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is currently investigating the scene and cause of the accident.

Anonymous sources are now telling various news outlets that the passengers aboard the plane were two engineers and a manager, not the executives previously reported. Their plane was headed for Hawthorne, California, near Los Angeles where Tesla rents space from Musk’s company Space X, though they may have been traveling to review a possibly location for the Model S sedan assembly plant.

We’ll continue to update this post as we get further details.

Source: KTVU, San Francisco Chronicle


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We Hear: Tesla Sets Up Roadster-to-Model S Trade-In Program

We Hear: Tesla Sets Up Roadster-to-Model S Trade-In Program

Tesla is ready to help out those owners who feel that their Roadsters aren’t new and shiny enough. According to a new report, the electric car maker will be giving owners a credit when they trade in a Roadster for a new Model S.

2012 Tesla Model S rear three quarter 2 300x187 imageThe San Francisco Chronicle reports that Tesla has created a buyback program for current Roadster owners who are looking to move into a new Model S. Tesla’s program works just as any other trade-in deal would work, and has been created to help simplify the process for Model S/Roadster customers, according to Tesla representative Christina Ra. Since some Model S variants are actually priced well below the Roadster, it is possible for an owner to receive more on a trade than the cost of the new car. “In that case, we’d write you a check,” Tom vonReichbauer, Tesla’s director of finance, told the Chronicle.

Pricing for the Model S hatchback starts at $57,400 for the 40 kWh battery, steps up to $67,400 for the 60 kWh car, and $77,400 for the 85 kWh model (all prices are before any government tax rebates). The EPA has already rated the 85-kWh Model S at 89 MPGe and a range of 265 miles. Currently, the only Model S versions being built are the top-spec Signature Performance models that use the 85-kWh battery; an upgraded interior, suspension, and wheels; and the exclusivity of being just one of 1000 units built. Once all the Signature models are built, the automaker will begin to produce the Model S and Model S Performance versions.

Having a cache of Roadsters will also help Tesla, the Chronicle points out. Having another vehicle to sell alongside the Model S until the Model X crossover debuts will help the automaker keep retail sales going. It’s expected that a Roadster would be resold for anywhere around $73,000 to $94,000 depending on age and mileage of the car.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

By Donny Nordlicht