NASA astronauts Doug Hurley (left) and Bob Behnken stand in front of the Tesla Model X that will carry them to the launchpad for the SpaceX Demo-2 launch.
Tesla revealed in a recent filing some of the ways that the company works with CEO Elon Musk’s other businesses including SpaceX and The Boring Company.
The filing shows related party transactions that included SpaceX purchasing $2.6 million worth of Tesla vehicle components, and $1.5 million worth of Tesla Energy systems, components and services in 2020. The filing, published late Friday, notes that these prices include labor, and some of the parts and systems were modified.
Collaboration between Musk’s companies is not new.
For example, SpaceX shares two board members with Tesla. Elon Musk sits on the board of both, as does his brother Kimbal Musk and Antonio Gracias.
SpaceX has also made it a tradition to drive astronauts to the launchpad in the company’s version of an “astrovan,” a NASA logo-emblazoned Tesla Model X, for crewed launches and other occasions. And Tesla shares some employees with SpaceX, including Charles Kuehmann, who serves as vice president of materials engineering for both companies.
The transactions between Musk’s businesses have been relatively small so far. But Friday’s filing suggests that SpaceX bought more tech and services from Tesla over time, even as the automaker battled chip shortages that have plagued the auto industry.
The company’s Crew Dragon capsule “Resilience” returned to Earth on Sunday, splashing down in the Gulf of Mexico after a record-setting SpaceX-NASA mission to the International Space Station.
To fulfill its various missions, SpaceX bought $2.1 million worth of car parts, including labor and modifications for non-vehicle use, from Tesla in the first quarter of 2021 alone. That’s more than triple the $600,000 SpaceX spent on Tesla car parts during the same period the prior year.
During Tesla’s first-quarter earnings call on April 26, 2021, Musk touted a record quarter for his electric car company. He also bemoaned the complexity of vehicle production generally, and the ongoing chip shortage and supply chain constraints plaguing the industry and Tesla.
He said the effort it took for Tesla to achieve high volume electric vehicle production included overcoming “a logistics problem that makes World War II look trivial.” The CEO added that the first quarter of 2021 had, “…Some of the most difficult supply chain challenges that we’ve ever experienced in the life of Tesla. Insane difficulties with the supply chains with parts, over the whole range of parts.”
The Tesla filing on Friday didn’t say exactly what SpaceX purchased or how it will use all of the systems and parts.
The filing also said The Boring Company, where Musk is a co-founder and significant shareholder, is now a tiny customer of Tesla’s, too. The Boring Company purchased “Tesla Energy systems and related services” for a total of $300,000 during 2020.
Musk’s tunneling venture developed the Las Vegas Convention Center Loop, 1.7 miles of tunnels to carry visitors to different exhibit halls. Tesla Model 3 vehicle drivers travel through the LVCC loop to pick up and drop off passengers who must book their rides via an app.
The LVCC loop cost Nevada taxpayers about $50 million, and has been criticized for a lack of pedestrian entrances, walkways and platforms, and for its people-moving capacity which pales in comparison to that of a subway.
Tesla’s filing on Friday didn’t say whether it sells or will sell vehicles to The Boring Company for such infrastructure developments.
Here’s a list of the ways that Tesla says it worked with and was paid by Elon Musk’s companies throughout 2020 and through March this year, according to the filing:
- SpaceX purchased $1.5 million worth of Tesla Energy systems, components and related services in 2020. It spent $200,000 on similar purchases during the first quarter of 2021.
- SpaceX bought $2.6 million worth of vehicle components from Tesla, including modifications, labor and support in 2020. It spent $2.1 million on the same items from Tesla in the first quarter of 2021.
- SpaceX paid Tesla $100,000 for “engineering support and resources” used in 2020.
- SpaceX ordered a custom tool that Tesla built for it at the automaker’s machining facility for $700,000 in 2020.
- SpaceX licensed software from Tesla from 2020 through February 2022 for aggregate fees expected to amount to $100,000 by the end of that term.
- Tesla paid SpaceX $600,000 in 2020 for use of the company’s aircraft. It paid $100,000 to SpaceX for the same in the first quarter of 2021.
The Boring Company
- The Boring Company purchased “Tesla Energy systems and related services” for $300,000 during 2020.