Tesla likely knew about Dyson's electric car plans two years before it was announced in September. There's nothing particularly nefarious about that news, but the story of how it happened should be familiar to anyone who has dealt with non-disclosure agreements and non-compete clauses when moving from one job to another. Really, the question is, what would you have done?
According to Bloomberg, engineer Pierre Pellerey was working for Dyson, the British manufacturer best known for vacuum cleaners, hand dryers and fans. He received a job offer from Tesla, but it was conditional on him getting a work visa for the United States. In the meantime, Dyson transferred him to a new top-secret team dubbed "Project E" that he discovered was tasked with creating an electric car (that hopefully won't look anything like our rendering above). He didn't tell Dyson about the job offer as he feared it would hamper his future at the company should his visa not come through. Ultimately, he was instead offered a Tesla job in Europe and told Dyson he was leaving.
This is when the problems started, as Dyson lawyers told him in a letter that he could not work for Tesla for 12 months due to Project E being involved in the same business. At this point, Pellerey shared the letter with Tesla associate general counsel Yusuf Mohamed for advice on how he should proceed. Though a judge accepted Pellerey's explanation that he thought Mohamed would keep it confidential because he was a lawyer, Mohamed was not legally bound to do so, and multiple judges at this point have determined that Tesla could have easily deduced given the legal proceedings that Dyson was developing an electric car. Hence, the company has known about it for two years.
"It does not require a great deal of imagination to come to the conclusion that (Dyson) would not be going to such trouble if the only confidential information (Pellerey) possessed related to vacuum cleaners and hand dryers," British judge Richard Snowden said in an Oct. 2015 ruling.
Ultimately, Pellerey was not allowed to work for Tesla for nine months, but because he would not be working in electric car development at Tesla, a second injunction was not granted. He started working at Tesla in June 2016 and still works there today.
Tesla knew about Dyson electric car two years before it was announced originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 07 Nov 2017 15:45:00 EST.