According to an upcoming book called "Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future," Google was primed to buy the automaker in 2013.
Citing company insiders who spoke with author Ashlee Vance, Tesla was in dire straits in early 2013 as problems with the Model S caused many buyers to complain and share their negative experience with others. This led a number of customers who pre-ordered the Model S to hesitate on their delivery. As a result, sales trickled and the company was put into a tough spot.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk reportedly responded by firing executives, ceasing production and tasking people from every department with closing sales from customers who had already reserved the Model S but hadn't taken delivery. As Musk reportedly said "If we don’t deliver these cars, we are f*cked. So I don’t care what job you were doing. Your new job is delivering cars.”
Shortly thereafter, in March 2013, Musk reportedly approached Google's Larry Page with an offer to sell Tesla for a "healthy premium." Musk also put conditions on the offer that reportedly included $5 billion in capital for factory expansions as well as guarantees that Google wouldn't break up or shut down Tesla until it had delivered their third-generation car which is slated to start in the low to mid-$30,000 price range. Musk also insisted that he would continue to run the automaker for eight years or at least until their entry-level model arrived.
Page reportedly agreed to the deal and shook on it. However as lawyers hammered out the specifics of the deal, Model S sales picked up to the point where Musk was able to call off the sale.