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Tesla investor to Detroit 3: ‘You’ve lost the electric car battle’

Steve Case, Chairman and CEO, Revolution LLC; co-founder of America Online, left, joins Josh Linkner CEO and Managing Partner, Detroit Venture Partners, on a panel during the Techonomy Detroit held at Wayne State Sept. 12, 2012. / MANDI WRIGHT/Detroit Free Press

California start-up Tesla Motors claims to be ahead of traditional automakers in the battle for electric-car supremacy, one of the company’s high-profile investors said today in an interview.

But the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company has only sold 100 cars so far this year and has cut in half its production target for the new Model S sports sedan, according to Wunderlich Securities analyst Theodore O’Neill.

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Tim Draper, co-founder of $6 billion venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, which has backed start-ups like SpaceX and Skype, said Elon Musk’s Tesla has the resources to beat the Detroit Three.

“Oh yeah,” Draper said in an interview today at the Techonomy conference at Wayne State University. “Don’t live in your reality distortion field here in Detroit. You’ve got to look at it and say, ‘Yeah we could do something here. We can innovate.’”

He added: “Create a flying car. Create something different because you’ve lost the electric-car battle. See if you can win another.”
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