Electric Vehicles and the Future of Transportation Energy Use – Tesla Motors Perspective


Date Thursday April 19th 2007
Time 4:00-5:00pm
Venue George E. Pake Auditorium

PARC Forum

In the present day nearly 100% of the world’s transportation energy needs are supplied by fossil fuels in the form of petroleum. Due to a confluence of factors such as global warming, energy security and cost we are now experiencing the earliest stages of a massive diversification of the energy supply into the transport market. This technology transformation and the forces driving it are likely to develop more quickly than most large companies and governments are today planning on. The transition over the coming decades to a renewable and diverse energy source mix will bring enormous opportunities to incumbents and entrepreneurs alike. At Tesla Motors we believe electric drive vehicles are one of the best technologies to address these future opportunities for reasons that will be discussed. We aim to become the world leader in all-electric vehicle propulsion and will discuss our current efforts and future roadmap to accomplish this.


JB is the CTO at Tesla Motors and oversees the technical and engineering design of the vehicles. He also has responsibility for new technology evaluation, R&D, technical diligence for key vendors and partners, and systems validation testing. Prior to Tesla Motors, Straubel was the CTO and co-founder of Volacom Inc. along with Harold Rosen. Volacom worked closely with Burt Rutan and Scaled Composites to design a specialized high-altitude aircraft platform using a novel hydrogen-powered electric power plant. At Volacom, JB invented and patented the new long-endurance hybrid propulsion concept that was later licensed to Boeing. Before Volacom, JB worked with Harold and Ben Rosen at Rosen Motors as a propulsion engineer developing a new hybrid vehicle drivetrain based on a micro turbine and a high-speed flywheel. Rosen Motors ultimately closed but both main technologies carried on with commercial success, the turbine at Capstone Turbine (CPST) and the flywheel at Pentadyne Power Corp. JB was part of the early team at Pentadyne where he designed and built a 1st generation 150kw power inverter, motor-generator controls, and magnetic bearing systems.

JB frequently consults with VC firms and private equity investors conducting technical diligence reviews for start-ups in the energy and clean technology category. JB also consults with the Rocky Mountain Institute and Amory Lovins.

JB has a personal passion for electric cars, including building a 944 Porsche that held a world EV racing record, a custom bicycle, and a pioneering new hybrid trailer system that he designed while in college. He received a B.S. in Energy Systems Engineering and a M.S. in Energy Engineering, emphasis on energy conversion, both from Stanford. Outside of Tesla Motors, JB is also an accomplished pilot and holds private pilot, instrument and multi-engine ratings.

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