Tesla CEO allegedly feared Microsoft would make his cars 'racist' in video game

The Tesla Roadster eventually appeared in "Project Gotham Racing 4."

Microsoft's gaming division enters into numerous corporate partnerships to use real-world products in its video games, perhaps none more so than its racing games, where details are hashed out to license well-known cars. In one instance, however, a car company's chief executive had a unique rationale for not wanting his cars used.

Martin Eberhard, co-founder and former CEO of the Tesla Motors electric car company, allegedly didn't want Microsoft to use his company's vehicles in "Project Gotham Racing 4" because he feared the lack of control his company would have over its cars. Specifically, Eberhard feared Microsoft would make the electric cars slow on purpose and "racist." According to David Vespremi, a former spokesman for the car company, Eberhard went on a screaming rant in front of the company's employees for even having the idea brought to him.

In a portion of Vespremi's book "Reboot: The (Previously) Untold Story of Tesla's Electric Sports Car" provided to Jalopnik, the former Tesla spokesman writes that Eberhard wasn't happy with previous dealings with Microsoft, allegedly calling the company "evil."

Vespremi told the CEO that he had a positive relationship with Microsoft Game Studios in the past, noting that Microsoft offered to put the Tesla Roadster in the game for free even though some companies pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to have their cars in video games. The former spokesman claims Eberhard eventually brought the conversation in front of the company's employees at its headquarters, screaming about having no control over how the car is represented.

"And what control do you think you would have over how the car performed in the game," Eberhard allegedly said. "What if they made it suck on purpose? Maybe it will be the slowest car in the game – maybe they’ll have Volkswagen Bugs that are faster!"

The rant eventually took a turn for the strange when Vespremi claims Eberhard feared Microsoft could make the car "racist."

"Maybe they will turn it into a racist car that runs over black people," Eberhard said, according to Vespremi.

Eberhard changed his mind later in the day, however, and said he had "some deeply unpleasant dealings with Microsoft" at a previous company. The executive didn't clarify his bad experience, though he previously co-founded Network Computing Devices, a company that made thin clients for Windows computers, and NuvoMedia, an e-Book company. A CNN article from 1999 states NuvoMedia worked with Microsoft on standardization for e-Book files.

The partnership with Microsoft apparently pleased Tesla in the end, as Vespremi wrote a blog post on the company's website shortly before the game's release, saying it was "confident that the folks over at Microsoft Game Studios have a game engine capable of delivering the goods."

Source: Jalopnik | Image via Microsoft

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