Apr 20th, 2015

Tesla Model S

While Google’s work on self-driving vehicles is already nothing short of impressive, think about how awesome Google’s presence in cars could be by now if their 2013 plans had come to fruition. According to Bloomberg, Google and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk came quite close to a deal for Google to acquire the electric car company.

The talks were in the late stages, says Bloomberg, with terms said to be a buyout of the company at its full value of (then) $6 billion, an extra $5 billion to pay withstanding warehousing and manufacturing expenses, and Google’s word that they’d let Elon Musk continue to run the company for at least 8 years or until they’d released a third generation vehicle, whichever came first.

That doesn’t sound like too tall an order for a company that makes the single best line of electric cars available, though its future looked quite bleak at the time with the company struggling to sell enough cars to turn a profit. After butting heads on details, the two sides had gotten as far as a handshake, hammering out a grip of paperwork and going through the typical back-and-forth motions between lawyers, suits and CEOs before these types of deals are closed.

And then Tesla suddenly started selling a crap-ton of cars. They sold so much, and so quickly, that they’d turned a modest profit that same quarter, and there hasn’t been any slowdown since. Tesla even paid off a hefty $465 million loan from the US Department of Energy since that time, and the talks with Google were pretty much dead in the water.
It’s interesting to think about what could have been if Google had gotten their hands on Tesla. The company was already in the early stages of getting their self-driving vehicle prototypes ready for road testing, and they’ve also introduced a software platform for smart vehicles named Android Auto. The biggest consumer technology company in the world having the reigns of the hottest new electric car company would have sent shivers down the spines of automakers like Ford, Chevrolet and General Motors, for sure.Failure to get a deal done doesn’t mean Google and Tesla’s relationship will never produce anything, though. Elon Musk and Google CEO Larry Page remain close friends, and it’s entirely possible that the two could collaborate on a smart electric vehicle for the future (note to Larry: that’s an informal plea to do something with Tesla ASAP). Either way, we’re sure Elon Musk sleeps well knowing he still has full control of a company that gracefully recovered from the brink of ruin.