The car market in the USA is dominated by established automakers such as Honda, Ford, and Chevrolet. However, one company stands out from the crowd: Tesla Motors, a manufacturer of electric cars. Tesla and its CEO, Elon Musk, rose to prominence in 2012 when the Model S, its flagship vehicle, was released.
Tesla’s announcement established it as a market pioneer in the electric vehicle market and among the few successful independent automakers. Notably, it was also well received by car buyers. That being said, let us delve into the fascinating history of this auto company.
Tesla Motors, Incorporation was founded on July 1, 2003, by Marc Tarpenning and Martin Eberhard. Tarpenning and Eberhard held the positions of CFO and CEO, respectively. Eberhard stated that he wished to create a car manufacturer that’s also a technology company with core technologies such as computer software, batteries, and proprietary motors.
Ian Wright became the company’s third employee a few months later. In February 2004, Tesla raised $7.5 million in series A funding, which included $6.5 million from Elon Musk, who had got $100 million from the sale of his PayPal stake two years earlier, making him the company’s largest shareholder and chairman of the board of directors. J. B. Straubel joined Tesla as a chief technical officer in May 2004.
Tesla and Eberhard’s September 2009 lawsuit settlement allows all five – Wright, Eberhard, Musk, Tarpenning, and Straubel – to call themselves co-founders.
Musk was active within the company and oversaw Roadster product design in great detail, but he was not deeply associated with day-to-day business operations. The company’s strategy was to commence with a premium sports car targeted at early adopters before transitioning to more mainstream vehicles such as sedans and affordable compacts.
The Roadster was first manufactured by Tesla in 2008. Subsequently, the company had raised $187 million and supplied 147 vehicles by January 2009. Musk had personally invested $70 million in the company.
Tesla Under Musk: Model 3, Model S, and Model Y
Tesla ceased production of the Roadster in 2012 to focus on its new Model S sedan, which automotive critics praised for its design and performance. It was available with three various battery options, each with an estimated range of 235-300 miles (379-483 km). The most powerful battery option provided a top speed of 130 miles (209 km) per hour and acceleration from 0-60 miles (96 km) per hour in less than four seconds.
Unlike the Roadster, which had its battery system in the back, the Model S had it underneath the floor, which allowed for more storage space in the back and improved handling due to its low center of gravity; this battery placement was utilized on later Tesla models. Tesla Autopilot, a type of semiautonomous driving, was introduced in 2014 on the Model S. (and later on other models).
In 2012, Tesla built Supercharger stations in Europe and the United States to charge Tesla owners’ batteries quickly and at no additional cost. Later versions of such stations could also replace the Model S battery pack.
In 2015, Tesla introduced the Model X, a “crossover” vehicle. The Model X could seat up to seven people and had a maximum battery range of around 340 miles (547 km).
Tesla began building massive factories known as Gigafactories to manufacture vehicles and batteries. The first of these factories opened in 2016, just outside of Reno, Nevada. Gigafactories have opened in New York, Buffalo, and Shanghai, China, with more planned.
Because of the demand for a more affordable vehicle, production of the Model 3, a four-door sedan ranging up to 353 miles (568 km) and a value of $35,000, began in 2017. The vehicle had an all-glass roof, and the majority of controls were located on a 15-inch (38-cm) central touchscreen. The Model 3 surpassed the Nissan Leaf as Tesla’s best-selling Model and electric vehicle.
The company has also expanded into solar energy products. In 2015, a battery line for storing solar energy in businesses and homes was unveiled. Tesla acquired SolarCity in 2016, offering rooftop solar panels, a solar roof with power-generating tiles, and a large battery termed the Powerwall to store the energy generated for use as a backup in case a power outage occurs or when the sun is not shining. The company’s name was changed to Tesla, Inc. in 2017 to indicate that it no longer sold only cars.
Musk claimed in a series of tweets the following year that he had secured funding to take Tesla private. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the United States charged him with securities fraud in September 2018, alleging that his tweets were misleading and false. Later that month, Tesla’s board of directors rejected the SEC’s proposed settlement, reportedly after Musk offered to quit.
However, news of the rejected agreement sent Tesla’s stock plummeting. The board immediately accepted a less generous settlement, including Musk standing down as chairman for at least three years and requiring Tesla’s lawyers to pre-approve his tweets. However, he was allowed to keep his position as CEO. Furthermore, Musk and Tesla were both fined $20 million.
In 2020, Tesla will release the Model Y, another crossover. The Model Y was cheaper and smaller than the Model X, and it shared many of the same components as the Model 3. Model Y sales quickly surpassed those of the Model 3, and Musk voiced confidence that it would be Tesla’s best-selling model.
Tesla announced several models for early 2020 release, including a semi-trailer truck, a second version of the Roadster, and the Cybertruck, a pickup truck with a boxy, angular design that sparked controversy when it was first unveiled.
Tesla Motors Today
Tesla continues to focus on creating electric vehicle (EV) powertrain components and systems as part of its success formula. By 2021, the company will have 100 service centers, 438 stores and galleries, and over 30,000 Superchargers (charging portals) in more than 3,100 locations.
There are no real guarantees in anything. Tesla Motors has evolved from a start-up to a well-established industry player. What hasn’t changed is its extraordinary story and position as a pioneer in the field of electronic vehicles.
If you’re even more curious about this auto company, learn more about the Tesla Incorporation here!