Tesla Inc. (TSLA) primarily designs and manufactures high-performance fully electric vehicles. The electric vehicle maker also provides energy generation and storage systems as well as services related to its products. Tesla was founded in 2003. The goal was to design cars that would be less reliant on fossil fuels but as quick and as fun to drive as vehicles that run on gasoline. The company launched its Roadster in 2008, which was followed by the Model S, Model X, and Model 3. Within the last several years, Tesla has expanded its electric vehicle offerings with an SUV, called the Model Y, and two different types of trucks – the Tesla Semi and the Cybertruck. Tesla has become the most valuable automaker in the world with a market capitalization of $606 billion, as of December 17, 2020. It has also begun to report consistent profits and has gained eligibility for inclusion into the S&P 500 Index. In 2019, Tesla posted an annual net loss of $775 million on revenue of $24.6 billion.
Tesla is still a relatively young company, but its rapid growth into the most valuable automaker has been supported by a number of key acquisitions, especially in recent years. Those acquisitions have primarily been aimed at increasing manufacturing capacity, boosting operational speed and efficiency, and reducing costs.
Below, we look in more detail at 5 of Tesla’s most important acquisitions. The company does not provide a breakdown of how much profit or revenue that each acquisition currently contributes.
- Type of Business: Solar Energy
- Acquisition Price: $2.1 billion
- Acquisition Date: November 21, 2016 (completed)
SolarCity was founded in 2006 by two brothers who are cousins of Elon Musk. The idea for the company was Musk’s, who also provided the initial working capital and served as chairman. SolarCity designs, manufactures, and installs solar energy systems, and sells solar-generated electricity. In August 2016, Tesla announced that it had reached an agreement to acquire SolarCity, completing the merger later that year. Tesla said that the combination would create the world’s first vertically integrated sustainable energy company, taking advantage of the synergies created by linking Tesla’s energy storage with SolarCity’s solar generation. Despite the merger being approved by a majority of Tesla shareholders, a number of Tesla investors later filed a lawsuit against the company. They claimed that the real motivation for the deal was to bail out SolarCity, which was beset with financial difficulties at the time.
Maxwell Technologies Inc.
- Type of Business: Energy Storage and Power Delivery Products
- Acquisition Price: $207 million
- Acquisition Date: May 16, 2019 (completed)
The company was founded in 1965 under the name Maxwell Laboratories Inc. It went public in 1983 and then changed its name to Maxwell Technologies Inc. in 1996. The manufacturer of energy storage and power delivery solutions specializes in making ultracapacitors, which are devices capable of holding many times more energy than standard capacitors. Its products are used in a range of applications, including transportation, industrial, and grid energy storage. In May 2019, Maxwell was acquired by Tesla. Musk has said in the past that ultracapacitors would be a breakthrough for the production of electric vehicles. He also was optimistic about Maxwell’s efficient process for producing electric battery components, a process that could greatly reduce Tesla’s costs of making its electric cars.
Grohmann Engineering GmbH
- Type of Business: Automated Manufacturing Systems
- Acquisition Price: $135.3 million
- Acquisition Date: January 3, 2017
German-based Grohmann Engineering was founded in 1963 by Klaus Grohmann. The company specializes in the design and development of automated manufacturing systems. When Tesla announced it was acquiring Grohmann in November 2016, the firm had 700 employees and revenue had been growing at an average annual rate of 6% over the past 20 years. Tesla completed the acquisition in January 2017 for $135.3 million. That total cost included an initial cash-payment of $109.5 million plus an additional $25.8 million paid in the first quarter of the year as part of an incentive compensation arrangement. Tesla said that the acquisition would help the electric vehicle maker improve the speed and efficiency of its manufacturing processes, significantly reducing expenses. Tesla planned for Mr. Grohmann to continue leading the operations of the acquired company, which was renamed Tesla Grohmann Engineering. However, months after the acquisition, Mr. Grohmann was ousted over a disagreement with Musk concerning the treatment of Grohmann’s existing customers, several of which were German auto rivals to Tesla.
Perbix Machine Co. Inc.
- Type of Business: Automated Manufacturing Equipment
- Acquisition Price: Financial terms not disclosed; estimated value of $10.5 million.
- Acquisition Date: November 7, 2017 (completed)
Perbix, founded in 1976, specializes in designing and building custom, highly-automated manufacturing equipment. It was purchased by Tesla in 2017. Earlier in 2017, Tesla had acquired Grohmann Engineering, a German-based firm in a similar line of business. The acquisition of Perbix allows Tesla to make more of its vehicle parts in-house, giving it more control of auto production. Following the Grohmann acquisition, the acquisition was another step in Tesla’s push to optimize and accelerate the production process of its electric vehicles.
Hibar Systems Ltd.
- Type of Business: Manufacturer of Automated Liquid Dispensing and Filling Systems
- Acquisition Price: Financial terms not disclosed
- Acquisition Date: 2019
Canada-based Hibar Systems was founded in 1974. The company specializes in designing and building high-precision dispensing pumps and filling systems, including automated vacuum filling systems for lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles. It’s unclear exactly when the acquisition took place because Tesla made no announcement of it. But in October 2019, Tesla listed Hibar as one of its subsidiaries in an October 2 filing with the Canadian government, according to several U.S. and Canadian publications. Tesla’s interest in the company is much more clear. Hibar will allow the electric vehicle maker to produce battery cells in house. This move will help lower key operating expenses and eventually make it less reliant on Panasonic Corp. (6752), with which Tesla jointly owns and operates a Nevada-based battery factory.