Esteemed motor news site Automotive Nudes today reported that Tesla Motors, builder of high-performance battery-powered electric vehicles, is in fact a hoax that originated as a simple April Fools’ Day prank.
“Martin [Eberhard] and I were having coffee and trying to think of a good joke,” CEO and co-founder Elon Musk told Automotive Nudes reporter Mike Retchin. “It was actually Marty’s idea. He said, ‘You know a lot about that electrical shit. Let’s issue a press release saying we’re partnering with AC Propulsion to make an electric sports car that can go 0-60 in two seconds with a thousand-mile range.’ We changed the numbers to make them a little more believable, but still impossible. Next thing we knew, we were in the headlines.”
Asked about the Lotus Elise body, Musk said, “We were trying to think of the most unlikely electric car. Marty thought a Volkswagen Karmann Ghia would be funny, or maybe a rusty old AMC Gremlin, and then I came up with the Elise. You know, to this day it still amazes me that people believed that. I can barely fit my feet into an Elise. Where the hell do they think we’d put a battery pack big enough to go 2 miles, let alone 200?”
Musk says he and Eberhard originally planned to reveal the joke right away, “But so many people bought into the idea, we figured we’d see how far we could take it.”
They continued the hoax by setting up a corporation and purchasing several actual Lotus Elises, which they disguised as Tesla Roadsters.
“Those are just regular Elises with a special device I developed that cancels out sound and vibration,” Musk explained. “It works just like a set of Bose noise-cancelling headphones, but on a much larger scale. Pretty slick, right? It took a long time to get it to work reliably, which is why we had to keep the media from driving the cars for so long. When we put the car on Top Gear, I thought for sure the gadget would break down and we’d get busted. Turns out it ran out of gas first, so we lucked out.”
Tesla has claimed sales of nearly 2,500 Roadsters in 31 countries. In fact, says Musk, there are about two dozen cars on the road in California, all driven by friends who are in on the joke.
“We even went so far as to develop the Model S,” Musk said, “which is really just a fiberglass body on a stretched Fiero chassis. And then we showed the Model X prototype. I made that one myself with a Ford Focus and a shitload of Bondo. By that time we were starting to get tired of the whole thing, so we decided to tell the world the truth. April fool!”