Tesla: The King of EVs…for Now

Group shot of Tesla vehicle 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. They believe the sooner the world stops relying on fossil fuels and moves towards a zero-emission future, the better.

Tesla
Founded:2003
CEO:Elon Musk
Employees:110,000
Headquarters:Austin, Texas
Manufacturing:USA, China, Germany
IPO:2010
Current Models:Model S
Model 3
Model X
Model Y
Federal Tax Credit Eligibility:No
Tesla Facts

Tesla Mission Statement

To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.

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 Tesla.  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 13.3million 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 plug-in 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 an 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, who 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 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.

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

Also in 2021, Tesla 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.

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
Model S | Image courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

The Tesla Model S sedan is Tesla’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 405 miles on a single charge, reach speeds of 155 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 $136,000 with an EPA range of up to 390 miles, top speed of 200mph, and 1.99 sec 0-60mph.

Model 3

Tesla Model 3
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 $48,000 before taxes and other fees and is quickly falling down 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 to date.  The Model 3 is available on three trips.  The base version is the Standard Range Plus, with an EPA range of up to 263 miles, top speed of 140 mph, and 0-60 mph in 5.3 seconds.  The Long Range trim can travel up to 353 miles per charge, with a top speed of 145 mph.  It can reach 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds.  The top-of-the-line Performance Model 3, has a lower EPA range of 315 miles, but tops out at 162 mph and reaches 0-60 mph in just 3.1 seconds.     

Model X

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 360 miles on one charge, with top speeds of 155 mph and 0-60 mph of 3.8 seconds.

The dual Model X Plaid has an estimated EPA of 340 miles, top speeds of 163 mph, and can reach 0-60 mph in 2.5 seconds. 

Model Y

Tesla Model Y
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 Tesla’s fourth electric vehicle.

The Model Y is available in Long Range and Performance trims.  The Long Range has an estimated EPA range of 326 miles, top speed of 135 mph, and 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds.  The Performance trim has an estimated EPA range of 303 miles, 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.

What else is coming for Tesla?

Cybertruck

Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

As of early 2022, there are still many unknowns about the Cybertruck. But we do know that Elon Musk is committed to delivering an electric truck that stands out from the competition. 

What we currently know about the Cybertruck is that it features an exoskeleton designed for superior strength and endurance, from Ultra-Hard 30X Cold-Rolled stainless steel structural skin to Tesla armor glass.  Tesla claims the Cybertruck will have an estimated range of up to 500 miles, 0-60 mph acceleration in 2.9 seconds, and top speed of 130 mph. They claim to have received over 1 million reservations for the Cybertruck, and deliveries are not expected until 2023.

Tesla Semi

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.  The prices are listed at $150,000 and $180,000 for the 300 and 500-mile models. Tesla promises fuel savings of over $200,000.

Roadster Second Generation

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 1.9 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 has recently stated that they are targeting 2023 for the debut of the Roadster, but that seems to be in question with all of the supply chain issues affecting production across all vehicle manufacturers in 2022.  Tesla electric vehicles generally have to have an awe factor, and this may help it compete with the Lucid Air.

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