Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning found Tesla Motors to build electric vehicles using a design based on Nikola Tesla’s AC induction motor, invented in 1888. Eberhard says:
Here’s the cool thing: if you handed one of our motors to Nikola Tesla, he’d recognize it immediately as his own invention. Nice job of optimization, but clearly his. That’s why we’re Tesla Motors.
Tarpenning and Eberhard will also finance the company until its preferred stock is first offered to investors in a Series A funding round.
Elon Musk leads the Series A investment round of $7.5 million and becomes the company’s chairman. He says:
As you know, the initial product of Tesla Motors is a high performance electric sports car called the Tesla Roadster. However, some readers may not be aware of the fact that our long term plan is to build a wide range of models, including affordably priced family cars. This is because the overarching purpose of Tesla Motors (and the reason I am funding the company) is to help expedite the move from a mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric economy, which I believe to be the primary, but not exclusive, sustainable solution.
The company’s first sports car, the Roadster, is unveiled in an airport hangar in Santa Monica, California. The car has a top speed of over 130 mph and goes from zero to 60 mph in about four seconds. Its single-charge range is 250 miles. In attendance at the event are 350 guests, including several celebrities, who are also invited to purchase the car for $80,000-$120,000 when it is released in 2007.
Musk takes over as Tesla CEO and announces that the company will put its Model S sedan on hold, close the facility working on some of the sedan’s engineering, and lay off a number of people. The company will focus on the Roadster and powertrains. In a blog post, he blames the economy:
These are extraordinary times. The global financial system has gone through the worst crisis since the Great Depression, and the effects are only beginning to wind their way through every facet of the economy. It’s not an understatement to say that nearly every business will be impacted by what has unfolded in the past weeks, and this is true for Silicon Valley as well.
Time Magazine votes the Tesla Roadster No. 2 in its list of inventions of the year.
Electric cars were always environmentally friendly, quiet, clean — but definitely not sexy. The Tesla Roadster has changed all that. After years of setbacks and shake-ups, the first Tesla Roadsters were delivered to customers this year…Reviews have been ecstatic…Even if the Roadster turns out to be a one-hit wonder, it’s been a hell of an (electric) ride.
At a press conference in Hawthorne, California, the company introduces the Model S, a full-sized luxury sedan. Priced at around $50,000 (list price of $57,000 minus federal tax credits), the car is expected to go on sale in 2011. It can seat seven, has a single-charge range of up to 160 miles (around 300 miles with an upgraded battery pack), and accelerates from zero to 60 mph in about six seconds.
German automaker Daimler buys a 9% stake in Tesla Motors for $50 million. The company’s post-money valuation is now $550 million. Daimler also expands its partnership with the company to put electric batteries into Mercedes-Benz vehicles. In a press release, Daimler says:
Tesla is the only production automaker selling a highway capable electric vehicle in North America and Europe.
The US Department of Energy announces approval of $465 million in low-interest loans to the company. The company says it will spend $365 million on manufacturing the Model S. The rest of the money will be invested in a new plant that will make battery packs and electrical vehicle parts for Tesla and other automakers, including Daimler.
As TSLA, the company makes its initial public offering of 13.3 million shares on NASDAQ, at $17 a share. It is the first American automaker to go public since 1956. Stock closes at $24.64, a 45% gain, earning the company $266 million.
The New York Times has trouble testing Tesla’s ultrafast charging stations between New York and Boston. The new 480-volt Supercharger stations, at service plazas in Newark, Del., and Milford, Conn., are some 200 miles apart, well within the Model S’s 265-mile estimated range (EPA) for the version with an 85 kilowatt-hour battery and wellwithin Tesla’s claim of 300 miles of range under ideal conditions. The stations deliver enough power for 150 miles of travel in 30 minutes, and a full charge in about an hour.
However, due to a combination of cold weather and technical glitches the car barely makes it to each station and requires the tester to turn of the heater and slowing down to get to his destination. On the next leg of the trip the car ends up needing to be towed to a charging point.
Musk takes to twitter to denounce the NYT review as fake:
Musk notes in a later tweet that logging is not turned on for normal customers, only for journalists.
John Broder responds to Musk’s accusation:
My account was not a fake. It happened just the way I described it.
Border also notes that Elon Musk called him before the article went up on the Web, to offer sympathy and regrets about the outcome of his test drive. He said that the East Coast charging stations should be 140 miles apart, not 200 miles, to take into account the traffic and temperature extremes in this part of the country. He also offered Broder a second chance at a test drive in a few months, after additional Supercharger stations come online.
Tesla announces plans to reinforce the undercarriage of about 16,000 cars with high-strength shields to reduce the risk of damage from a crash starting a fire. The NHTSA did not ask Tesla to issue a recall for the Model S. Tesla said the retrofits are voluntary and that federal regulators did not find a “safety-related defect trend.”
Norwegians registered nearly 1,500 Tesla Model S electric sedans in March, beating out the entire Ford product range as well as out-pacing the runner-up Volkswagen Golf by more than double. The figures makeup more than 10 percent of all vehicle registrations in the country.
The company announces a first-quarter net loss of $50 million, or 40 cents a share, on a non-adjusted basis. Excluding stock-based compensation and non-cash interest expense, the company earned $17 million, or 12 cents a share on an adjusted basis, beating analysts’ estimates of 6 cents a share. Adjusted revenue was $713 million for the quarter, up 27% from $621 million a year ago. The company says it generated $61 million in cash flow during the quarter.
Tesla said it made 7,535 of its Model S sedans during the quarter, beating its own projection of 7,400. It estimates that Model S deliveries will total 35,000 this year. Elon Musk also announces Shanghai will get its first supercharger station:
We plan to expand in China as fast as possible because we believe the country could be one of our largest markets
The meeting commences at the Computer History Museum, 1401 North Shoreline Boulevard, Mountain View, California. Elon Musk asks the audience if they have any questions. The conference suddenly morphs into an awkward spectacle when a self-described “super-genius” Roy Philipose confronted Musk and asks if he could be named vice chairman.
I would like to come on board as vice chairman of Tesla
At the annual Tesla general shareholders meeting Musk announces that he plans to stay on as CEO for four or five years, or at least through volume production of Gen 3, the mass market, $35,000-a-year car.
No one is a CEO forever. Eventually they carry you out.
When a BBC interviewer asks if he is considering giving his proprietary technology away, Musk replies:
You’re on the right track
Earlier in the week, he had told shareholders that in order to increase the popularity of electric cars the company was considering doing something significant and controversial with its patents.
The first five reservation holders claimed the keys to their new cars from Elon Musk himself, at an event at The Crystal in London. Musk tells reporters that pre-orders are already going well in the UK, adding that there’s already a four-month waiting list for customers getting hold of cars. UK specifications largely match those in the US, and pricing begins at £55,280 before the U.K.’s £5,000 ($8,400) government grant towards going electric. That price puts it at around $92,800 at current exchange rates.
Tesla makes its technology patents freely available to the public and promises not to sue anyone who uses the patent in good faith. The company, which has hundreds of issued patents and hundreds more pending, will continue to apply for future patents to protect itself from those others take out for the same technology. In a blog post, CEO Elon Musk explains:
Given that annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately 2 billion cars, it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis. By the same token, it means the market is enormous. Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day.
We believe that…applying the open source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard.
Minutes after taking delivery of a white Tesla Model S in Beijing, Yu Xinquan took a wrench and smashes the front windshield of the one million yuan (about $173,600) vehicle. The disgruntled owner expected to be one of the first in China to take delivery of the Model S when he placed his order last October and became furious with Tesla when he discovered that his car had not even been built when others in the country had already received their cars. Tesla offered the use of one of their showroom cars until the customers car was ready for delivery, but Mr. Xinquan refused.
Tesla shares fall 4% after a sharp drop in Norwegian sales in June, selling 536 Model S vehicles in June, a fall from the 1,493 it sold in March.
Tesla announces its plans to become one of America’s leading employers of military veterans. Tesla’s workforce is increasing rapidly as it expands production of its Model S, prepares its launch of the Model X crossover SUV and enters new overseas markets. The company now has more than 6,000 employees, and of those, 300 — or roughly 5 percent — are veterans, including its logistics director, former Navy officer Adam Plumpton. An additional 600 veteran candidates are in the hiring pipeline. The Company says:
We want to be known throughout the veteran community as a great place to work.Veterans are a great source of talent for Tesla, and we’re going after it.
A stolen Tesla Model S split in two after a fiery crash in West Hollywood, Calif., following a police chase at speeds up to 100 miles per hour. The car apparently split after striking a pole at the end of the chase early Friday, resulting in injuries to several people. The chase began after a Tesla dealership reported the car was being tampered with on its lot. Video shows the Tesla’s rear end wedged between a wall at a synagogue, several dozen feet from the front half, which came to rest next to two other wrecked cars in the middle of the street. The car had split behind the front seats.
Tesla Motors shuts down its California plant for two weeks to install new robots which are expected to boost production by 25%. The upgrade costs $100,000,000.
This represents the single biggest investment in the plant since we really started operations and enables us for higher volumes. It gets us ready to build X and to do it on the same line as the S.
SolarCity incorporates the Tesla battery into its DemandLogic energy storage system to increase the utility cost savings customers can realize from using stored solar electricity. DemandLogic, which is being adopted by several of the largest retail, biotech and Internet companies in the U.S., allows businesses to reduce energy costs by using stored electricity to reduce peak demand, and can also provide backup power during grid outages. DemandLogic’s management software automates the discharge of stored energy to optimize savings on utility demand charges for customers.
in an earnings call Musk reveals a tentative schedule for the Model 3, which is expected to cost $35,000 before government subsidies, saying the company plans to unveil the model in March 2016, and a sale date of mid 2017, but probably later.
I mean, we are hoping to show off the Model 3 in approximately March of next year. Again, like, don’t hold me to that month, but that’s, like — that’s our aspiration.
Tesla announces its second-quarter delivery totals. The manufacturer delivered 11,507 Model S luxury electric cars from April 1 through June 30, its highest quarterly total to date, and brings Tesla’s global deliveries for the first half of 2015 to 21,537 cars. The company does not release monthly numbers.
Musk announces “Ludicrous Speed,” a $10,000 upgrade for the P85D Model S. The upgrade improves 0-60 time by 10 percent, to 2.8 seconds, with a quarter-mile sprint dropping to 10.9 seconds. The top speed increases to 155 miles per hour, 20 percent faster than on a standard P85D. The Model X will also have Ludicrous Speed as an option, but because that vehicle is 10 percent heavier than the S it will be slower.
Tesla announces that the Model X will be launched on September, 29, in Fremont, California
Musk launches the Model X SUV. The car can seat seven, has rear upward-opening “falcon” doors, and with the “ludicrous” option can reach 0-60mph in 3.2 seconds. The car also has a “bioweapon defense mode,” an advanced HEPA air filter that will clean any viruses out of the air. The car also has the best safety ratings of any SUV, a result of its low center of gravity and lack of a traditional engine. The Model X 90D costs $132,000, with a range of 257 miles and 0-60 of about 3.7 seconds; the P90D runs $142,000, 250 miles and 3.2-second acceleration.
If there’s ever a bioweapon attack, the safest place is your car. There’s actually a ‘bioweapon defense mode’ right there in the HVAC. We figure you shouldn’t have to think if you’re in an emergency.
Tesla launches a beta version of Autopilot, which will be available on Thursday. All vehicles from September 2014 will be given the feature. Vehicles will rely on four major sensor systems. Ultrasonic sensors that tell the computer what’s around a 16-ft perimeter of the car; a forward-facing camera that helps determine where the lanes are and what cars are ahead of it, and which can also read speed signs; forward radar that’s used to detect fast-moving objects and which can see through rain, fog, and dust, as well as pulling from GPS and high-precision digital maps. Musk says it’s very important that people “exercise caution” and that they keep their hands on the wheel.
I don’t think that we have anything to worry about with cars driving themselves. They’re not going to take over the world…Each driver is a trainer in how the autopilot should work.
Consumer Reports withdraws its recommendation for the Tesla Model S, after surveying 1400 owners, because of “worse-than-average” reliability. The car previously had the best rating possible.
As the older vehicles are getting up on miles, we are seeing some where the electric motor needs to be replaced and the onboard charging system won’t charge the battery. On the newer vehicles, we are seeing problems such as the sunroof not operating properly. Door handles continue to be an issue…Despite the problems, [Consumer Reports] data show that Tesla owner satisfaction is still very high: Ninety-seven percent of owners said they would definitely buy their car again.
Tesla Motors share price drops 10% before recovering to close off 7%.
Tesla recalls 90,000 cars because of a single report of a front seat belt not being properly connected. Tesla was alerted to the seat belt issue by a customer in Europe two weeks ago and has since inspected 3,000 vehicles and its assembly process.
Tesla recently found a Model S in Europe with a front seat belt that was not properly connected to the outboard lap pretensioner. This vehicle was not involved in a crash and there were no injuries. However, in the event of a crash, a seat belt in this condition would not provide full protection.