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Tesla founder launches new electric car battery startup and there’s a twist

Tesla’s original co-founder, Martin Eberhard, is launching yet another electric vehicle battery startup and it appears to be extremely similar to its previous startup, which was recently acquired by SF Motors to help them make their own electric cars.

If you are not familiar with Eberhard, he founded Tesla in 2003 with his friend and business partner Marc Tarpenning. Current Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, and CTO, JB Straubel, along with former executive Ian Wright, were all made co-founders later after a judge ruling following a dispute among them after Eberhard was ousted from Tesla in 2008 and Musk later took over as CEO.

The engineer has since been active in the shadows of the EV industry.

He briefly led Volkswagen’s electric vehicle development in the US and later joined his former Tesla colleagues at competitor Atieva, now Lucid Motors, before leaving in 2015.

After he left the company, we reported that he was making a comeback in the EV space with his own new startup, ‘InEVit’, to develop battery packs for electric vehicles.

A year later, InEVit was acquired by SF Motors, a China-backed EV startup, to absorb their engineering talent and incorporate their battery pack technology into their own electric vehicles.

SF Motors has since unveiled some of its planned electric vehicles to hit the market soon, but we now learn that Eberhard is not with the company anymore.

In a new interview, he announced that he ended up leaving and launching a new startup:

“SF Motors eventually bought us out, and I joined their team soon after. But I was only at SF Motors for a short amount of time before I wanted to start something new again. Although I can’t talk too much about, I started a new company, Tiveni Inc., in this space, and that’s what I’m working on nowadays.”

He didn’t elaborate on the new startup and Tiveni’s website is very bare. It only discloses that they are developing “intelligent EV battery systems”.

It sounds extremely similar to what InEVit was working on for SF Motors before being acquired.

Electrek did a little more research and found out that it is far from the only resemblance with Eberhard’s previous startup.

Like InEVit, Tiveni is based both in the Bay Area in California and in Germany and the German division is lead by Heiner Fees, a former engineer at Bosch, who was also a co-founder of InEVit.

A LinkedIn search that several other executives of InEVit have left SF Motors over the last year to join Eberhard’s new startup, including Peter David, COO and CFO.

They have also hired former engineers from Alta Motors, an electric motorcycle startup that folded earlier this year.

There isn’t much more information available about Tiveni at this time other than the name is also ‘InEVit’ backward…

Electrek’s Take

It does look like Eberhard sold his battery startup to SF Motors, which most likely primarily bought it for the engineering talent considering it was a relatively young company, and then only stayed a few months before leaving with other top executives and engineers to start another similar startup.

If I was SF Motors, I certainly wouldn’t be too happy about the situation, but I have to say that it might be a net plus for the industry.

Eberhard and his team still likely developed a solid battery pack technology for SF Motors and now they get to do it again and sell it to other automakers looking to accelerate their electric vehicle development.

Ultimately, if it means more electric vehicles, I’m happy with it.

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