Tesla Electric Vehicles: Pioneering the EV Revolution

Tesla Electric Vehicles lineup.

Tesla wasn’t the first company to make electric vehicles, but when you think of the history of electric vehicles, it’s hard not to think of Tesla.  Tesla builds not just electric vehicles, but also clean energy generation and storage products. The Elon Musk owned EV Manufacturer believes the sooner the world stops relying on fossil fuels and moves towards a zero-emission future, the better.

When was Tesla Founded?2003
Who is the CEO of Tesla?Elon Musk
How many employees does Tesla have?126,000
Where is Tesla headquarters?Austin, Texas
Where does Tesla manufacture their vehicles?USA, China, Germany
When was Tesla’s IPO?2010
Tesla Current Models:Model S, Model 3, Model X, Model Y and Cybertruck
Federal Tax Credit Eligibility:View model pages for eligibility
Tesla Facts

Tesla Mission Statement

To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.

Tesla showroom
Tesla showroom | image Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

History of Tesla, from Roadster to Today

Tesla was founded in 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning.  They wanted to build a car manufacturer that is also a technology company.  Ian Wright joined Tesla soon after, and the three began to search for funding.  This is where Elon Musk comes in.  Musk invested $6.5 million in February 2004, as part of the company’s series A funding.  Musk received $100 million from the sale of PayPal two years earlier.  He soon became chairman of the board of directors as the largest shareholder of Tesla.  J.B. Straubel joined Tesla in May as the fifth employee.  These would be the five original employees to be called co-founders, resulting from a 2009 lawsuit settlement that stated as such.

Elon Musk

As chairman of the board, Musk began to take charge of public statements and lead funding efforts.  Elon also worked closely with the Roadster product design.  The goal of Tesla at the time was to start with a premium, high-dollar sports car to attract early adopters and then transition to a more mainstream vehicle for the masses.  This led to the release of the flagship EV, the Roadster, in 2006.

The next year, in 2007, CEO Martin Eberhard was asked to step down by the board of directors.  By this time, Everhard and Tarpenning had moved on from the Tesla EV company.  This is what eventually led to Musk becoming CEO, and he still holds this position today.  The Roadster production began in 2008. By 2009, Tesla was rolling in the dough, raising $187 million while delivering 147 cars. 

Tesla Roadster (2005-2009)

The original Tesla Roadster is what helped propel Tesla to where they are today.  It also defined Tesla’s vision of building an electric car that can also be fast and cool. The Roadster is the first highway legal serial production all-electric car to use lithium-ion battery cells.  It is also the first electric vehicle to reach deep space.  Tesla eventually sold about 2,500 Roadsters in over 30 countries and eventually ended sales in 2012.

The Roadster remains a collector’s item for many as the original Tesla, and many are even increasing in value as time passes. 

Roadster to Mainstream – Model S

2010 was a big year for Tesla.  Tesla bought the eventual Tesla Factory in Fremont, California. They would open the facility in October 2010 to start production of the Model S.  In June, Tesla also became a publicly-traded company via an initial public offering on NASDAQ.  The electric car manufacturer issued 13.3 million shares at a price of $17.00 per share.

The Tesla Model S luxury sedan was launched in January 2012.  The Model S was an instant success, receiving many accolades, including the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year.  The luxury EV was also the top-selling battery electric car worldwide in 2015 and 2016.

Energy Storage and Model X

While Tesla was ramping up deliveries of the Model S, they were also working on the production of their third electric vehicle, the Model X luxury SUV.  In 2015, Tesla entered into energy storage solutions by introducing the Powerwall for home and Powerpack battery packs.  Shortly after, Tesla introduced the Model X in September 2015, adding a second electric vehicle.  

SolarCity and Model 3

Tesla acquired the solar installation business SolarCity in November 2016, giving them entry into the solar business.  This is around the time Tesla dropped “Motors” from its name, changing it to Tesla, Inc.

In 2017, Tesla began selling its fourth vehicle model, the Model 3 sedan.  The Model 3 was a more affordable electric vehicle, allowing Tesla to reach the mass market.  Production issues for the Model 3 raised major concerns for the company, which had 455,000 reservations by August 2017.  Delays increased pressure on the company, which was one of the most shorted companies in the stock market.

By the end of 2018, Elon Musk and the company were able to overcome the production problems, and the Model 3 was the world’s best-selling plug-in electric car that year.  It still remains one of the most sold plug-in electric cars of all time. 

Tesla Model Y to the Future Electric Vehicles

Three years would pass before Tesla delivered its next new EV model.  In March of 2020, the Model Y crossover began rolling out to customers. 

In 2020 Tesla hit its goal of building a half-million cars in 2020.  The company ended the year with over $19 billion in cash, compared to $6.3 billion at the end of 2019. The Model Y Has been the besting selling battery electric vehicle from 2020 to 2024.

In December 2021, Tesla moved its headquarters from Palo Alto, California, to their Gigafactory in Austin, Texas. 

Also, in 2021, the Tesla EV company broke ground on a new battery factory in Lathrop, California.

Tesla continues to expand on multiple fronts.  From 2015 to 2020, they bought a handful of companies.  They also invested roughly $1.5 billion in bitcoin in 2020.  In 2022, Tesla launched its new car factory near Berlin.  The Giga Berlin plant is the largest plant for EVs in Europe.  In April 2022, Tesla opened the Giga Texas facility with its Cyber Rodeo event, attended by an estimated 15,000 people. In November 2023, Tesla began releasing Cybertruck models to pre-order customers. The upcoming Tesla Model 2, codenamed Redwood, aims to become the most affordable electric vehicle yet.

Where did Tesla get its name?

Cofounder Martin Eberhard pitched the name Tesla to his then-girlfriend at Disneyland’s Blue Bayou restaurant.  Eberhard chose the name, after months of unsuccessful pitches, in honor of Nikola Tesla.

Tesla Current and Future Electric Vehicles

Model S

Tesla Model S
Tesla Model S | Image Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

The Tesla Model S sedan is the EV company’s longest-running EV in production to date, dating back to 2012.  The Model S has always been a well-rounded EV with style, performance, and one of the best batteries of an EV.  The current Long Range trim can travel 402 miles on a single charge, reach speeds of 130 mph, and accelerate from 0-60mpg in 3.1 seconds.  The tri-motor Model S Plaid trim was announced in 2021, which starts at around $88,000 with an EPA range of up to 359 miles, top speed of 200mph, and 1.99 sec 0-60mph.

Model 3

Tesla Model 3
Tesla Model 3 | Image Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

From the early days of Tesla, Elon Musk was quite persistent about the carmaker’s goals of providing a quality EV most consumers could afford to drive.  In 2016, the announcement of the Model 3 brought Tesla a step closer to their goal of an EV at $35,000. Tesla very briefly was able to sell early versions of the Model 3 at $35,000, but that was not able to be sustained.  Today, the cheapest Model 3 starts at over $39,000 before taxes and other fees and is joining the list of most affordable EVs

The Model 3 was the world’s first electric car to pass 1 million global sales and remains one of the top-selling electric cars.  The Model 3 is available on two trips.  The base version is the Rear-wheel drive, with an EPA range of up to 272 miles, top speed of 125 mph, and 0-60 mph in 5.8 seconds.  The Long Range trim can travel up to 343 miles per charge, with a top speed of 125 mph.  It can reach 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds. 

Model X

Tesla Model X
Tesla Model X | Image Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

The Model X is Tesla’s first SUV.  It is available in either dual motor or Plaid trims.

The dual-motor Model X Long Range can travel 335 miles on one charge, with top speeds of 149 mph and 0-60 mph of 3.8 seconds.

The dual Model X Plaid has an estimated EPA of 326 miles, top speeds of 149 mph, and can reach 0-60 mph in 2.5 seconds. The Model X is most feature-rich Tesla and depending on the options selected, can seat up to seven passengers.

Model Y

Tesla Model Y
Tesla Model Y | Image Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

Tesla unveiled the Model Y in 2019 as the crossover version of its larger and more established (and more expensive) Model X mid-size SUV. This was the fourth electric vehicle for the Tesla EV company.

The Model Y is available in Rear-Wheel Drive, Long Range and Performance trims. 

The least expensive Rear-Wheel Drive varient has an EPA estimated range of 260 miles and 0-60 mph of 6.6 seconds. The Long Range has an estimated EPA range of 310 miles, a top speed of 135 mph, and 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds.  The Performance trim has an estimated EPA range of 279 miles, a top speed of 155 mph, and 0-60 mph acceleration in 3.5 seconds. Like the other models, the difference mostly comes down to whether you want to sacrifice a bit of battery range for better performance, slight differences in trim, and at a higher price tag.


Tesla Cybertruck
Tesla Cybertruck | Image Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

The Cybertruck features an exoskeleton designed for superior strength and endurance, from Ultra-Hard 30X Cold-Rolled stainless steel structural skin to Tesla armor glass. 

The 2024 Tesla Cybertruck is a highly anticipated all-electric pickup truck that comes in three different model trims – the rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, and Cyberbeast. The truck is made of ultra-hard stainless steel and armored glass, making it incredibly durable and capable of handling any terrain or job site. The Cybertruck’s angular, planar body panels and military-inspired look communicate incredible ruggedness and utility.

The Cybertruck’s interior is spacious and luxurious, with a large 18.5-inch touchscreen in the front and a secondary 9.4-inch screen in the rear. The rear seating area folds up to create a massive lockable cargo area in addition to the 6.5-foot truck bed, with up to 120.9 cubic feet of lockable storage. The Cybertruck can tow up to an incredible 11,000 lbs when properly equipped and has a range of up to 340 miles on the all-wheel drive version and over 500 miles on the tri-motor Cyberbeast using an optional range extender pack.

With its nearly silent yet tremendously powerful electric motors, the Cybertruck promises exhilarating performance, especially in the top Cyberbeast trim. The adjustable air suspension provides up to 16 inches of ground clearance when needed, along with high approach and departure angles for extreme off-roading. The Cybertruck also comes loaded with advanced driver assistance technology under the Autopilot umbrella, with the ability to automatically steer, accelerate, and brake on its own within a lane. The Cybertruck represents Tesla’s innovative leadership in the electric vehicle industry as it expands its reach into one of the most popular vehicle segments in the United States.

What else is coming for Tesla?

Tesla Semi

Tesla Semi
Tesla Semi | Image Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

The Tesla Semi is poised to be Tesla’s first commercial vehicle.  It was originally announced in 2017, but various delays continue to push out the anticipated delivery date.  Tesla’s website lists two variations of the Semi, with battery ranges of 300 or 500 miles.  Early estimated prices where listed at $150,000 and $180,000 for the 300 and 500-mile models. Tesla also claimed fuel savings of over $200,000. Starting from 2024, Tesla removed pricing and fuel saving claims from their website.

Roadster Second Generation

Tesla Roadster
Tesla Roadster | Image Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

Tesla unveiled the second-generation Roadster as a surprise reveal at the end of the event that introduced the Tesla Semi in 2017.  Musk said the new Roadster will have a 620-mile range and 0-60 mph in 1.99 seconds.  The top speed will be over 250 miles per hour.  Musk threw out that he wants the Roadster to hover, and he apparently wasn’t joking.  The SpaceX Package will include cold air thrusters that will increase speed.  Musk stated if you get the SpaceX package, “in the place [of two back row seats] is a high-pressure carbon overwrapped pressure vessel, something at around 10,000 psi, and a bunch of thrusters.”  His goal is to figure out “how to make it hover without killing people.”

Tesla had planned to launch the Roadster in 2023, but as of 2024, it has not been released. While Tesla’s electric vehicles have been impressive so far, the competition is increasing, which may reduce Tesla’s edge.

Tesla’s Brand Leadership: Recognition, Autonomy, Charging

Tesla stands out as the most recognizable brand in the electric vehicle space. A key differentiator is its ambitious self-driving technology approach using only camera-based systems, unlike competitors utilizing a combination of cameras, LiDAR, and sensors. While still working to build public trust, this camera-only self-driving could prove a compelling advantage over time. However, Tesla’s crown jewel may be its proprietary Supercharger network – providing reliable DC fast charging that has consistently outperformed other charging options. With most other EV makers now adopting Tesla’s charging standard, its vast Supercharger infrastructure is becoming the de facto charging network across North America, albeit with a portion remaining Tesla-exclusive. This combination of brand equity, self-driving vision, and charging supremacy underlies Tesla’s key selling propositions and differentiators in the EV market.

Tesla’s Road Ahead: Rivalry, Pricing, and Political Hurdles

While Tesla pioneered and continues to lead the electric vehicle revolution, it now faces surging competition as the EV market expands rapidly. From just five brands offering 25 models in 2018, there are over 28 brands with more than 200 EV models and trims available in 2024 – providing more choices beyond Tesla that can leverage its Supercharger network advantage. Another challenge is Tesla’s higher price points, with its most affordable option around $39,000 limiting its potential buyer pool compared to more budget-friendly offerings from rivals. Perhaps most concerning are signs that Tesla’s core progressive, environmentally-conscious customer base is souring on the brand and Elon Musk, according to surveys showing a 60%+ drop in Democratic buyers. However, opportunities remain for Tesla to develop a more affordable mass-market vehicle to expand its reach while continuing to innovate and set the EV technology curve that competitors follow.

Electric Driver Conclusion: Tesla Electric Vehicles

In conclusion, Tesla has established itself as a leading player in the electric vehicle market with its range of premium electric cars. The brand’s commitment to innovation, technology, and design has allowed it to carve out a niche for itself in an industry that was long dominated by traditional automakers. Tesla’s vision to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy is evident in all aspects of its operations, from its electric vehicles to its solar energy products. With its focus on sustainable mobility and renewable energy, Tesla is well-positioned to play a major role in shaping the future of the automotive industry.

Tesla Brand and Model Pages

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