Martin Eberhard and his friend Marc Tarpenning founded Tesla Motors in 2002, where Eberhard was its original Chairman, and was CEO until late 2007. Eberhard and his team reinvented the EV, changing public perception of EVs to be fast, sexy, desirable cars that will obviously become the future of transportation.
Eberhard’s key innovations have set the way for all subsequent electric cars: 1) an EV should not be a compromise. With the right technology choices, you can build EVs that are actually better cars than their competition. 2) Battery technology is key to a successful EV. Lithium-ion batteries are not only suitable for automotive use; they are game-changing, making decent driving range a reality. 3) If designed right, EVs can appeal to even the most serious car enthusiast, as electric drive can easily outperform gas engines.
Prior to Tesla, Eberhard and Tarpenning founded NuvoMedia, developing arguably the first eBook, the Rocket eBook. Eberhard was Chairman and CEO until NuvoMedia’s acquisition by Gemstar in 2000.
Eberhard co-founded Network Computing Devices in 1987, where he was Chief Engineer through its IPO in 1992.
Eberhard received a BS in Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1982 and an MS in Electrical Engineering from the same school in 1984. In 2015, he was inducted into the University of Illinois Engineering Hall of Fame.
After leaving Tesla, Eberhard was EIR at the Mayfield Fund, Director of EV Development at Volkswagen, CTO and Chairman of Inevit Inc., Chief Science Officer at SF Motors. He continues to advise various startups and larger corporations, and lectures around the world on reducing the use of carbon fuels, on the advantages of electric propulsion for cars, and on entrepreneurship.