Report Card: Tragedy and Triumph for Tesla -

Report Card: Tragedy and Triumph for Tesla

On a day that a plane crash kills 3 Tesla employees, it was announced the company's CEO won the 2010 Automotive Executive of the Year Innovator Award.

Elon Musk, Chairman, Product and CEO of Tesla Motors Photo courtesy PR Web.The 2010 Automotive Executive of the Year Innovator Award, sponsored by DNV Certification, will be presented to Elon Musk, Chairman, Product and CEO of Tesla Motors, in recognition of his technology leadership and innovation, as well as his enlightened vision for the automotive industry’s future.

And, the same day Musk was given the good news, it was also learned that three employees of Tesla, the high-end Silicon Valley electric car maker, died when their twin-engine Cessna 310 airplane hit power lines and crashed Wednesday morning into an East Palo Alto, CA, neighborhood.

According to the Associated Press, the plane is registered to Air Unique Inc. of Santa Clara. State records show that Doug Bourn owns the plane company and a Tesla spokesman said Bourn serves the car-maker as a senior electrical engineer.

According to news reports, the cause of the crash has yet to be determined – though many officials have blamed the dense fog that blanked much of the San Francisco Bay Area and airport location Wednesday morning.

The names of those killed had not been released as of Wednesday afternoon. Some reports suggest the victims included a Tesla executive and two of the company’s engineers.

In a brief statement, Musk said the accident was a tragic day for his small, tightly-knit company.

Ironically, it was reported by the Christian Science Monitor that Musk took some heat recently for using a private jet to fly to Washington to secure a $465 million federal loan after Detroit automakers were criticized for doing the same thing.

Based in California’s Silicon Valley, Tesla Motors is the only automaker selling electric vehicles that are both highway-capable cars and in serial production, and the company has been credited with pushing the entire automotive industry toward EVs.

Although the company has yet to be profitable, it is on the verge of going public.

Elon co-founded Tesla and continues to oversee the company’s product strategy – including the design, engineering and manufacturing of more affordable electric vehicles for mainstream consumers.

As Chairman and Product Architect, he helped design the ground-breaking Tesla Roadster, for which he won an Index and a Global Green award, the latter presented by Mikhail Gorbachev.

In October 2008, he took on the additional responsibility of CEO, overseeing daily operations as the company was ramping up Roadster production and accelerating the development of its second vehicle, the Model S.

“Elon Musk is a man who came from humble beginnings to accomplish the extraordinary,” says Robert Djurovic, executive director of the Automotive Executive of the Year Award program, and director of automotive services North America, DNV Business Assurance US.

“We are thrilled to present him with our Innovator Award, and see him as someone who has not only already accomplished so much in his young life, but also, as one to watch for future technology breakthroughs.”

Musk was appriciative of the award.

"This award is a tremendous honor, in particular because the nomination comes from my respected peers and colleagues," Musk said. "It demonstrates not only the influence that a relatively small startup can have on the global auto industry, but also the speed with which other car companies and suppliers are joining Tesla in the electric vehicle revolution."

Musk will receive the award in the company of more than 200 automotive executives at an invitation-only luncheon held at the Detroit Athletic Club on April 27.

The Automotive Executive of the Year Award nominating committee includes industry media, analysts and automotive supplier CEOs.

Since 1964, the Automotive Executive of the Year Award has recognized excellence in industry leadership. Past recipients include Jim O’Sullivan, Carroll Shelby (Lifetime Achievement Award), Bill Ford, Jr., Dieter Zetsche, Henry Ford II, Bob Lutz, Nobuhiko Kawamoto, Carlos Ghosn, and Lee Iacocca. The Innovator Award is specially presented to a leader exhibiting dynamic impact on the industry’s technological potential.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Tesla company, and we congradulate Musk on what he’s done in the automotive industry.

Additional content was courtesy of

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