Tesla’s Bumpy Road to Success

These days almost everyone knows about Elon Musk and his innovative companies which aims to create a sustainable future for the planet, one of which is Tesla, the electric car company. But very few people know that, unlike Musk’s other companies, Tesla was not actually founded by him.

Tesla, Inc. was founded in 2003 by the engineers Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning in San Carlos, California. It was originally called Tesla Motors, a name the company changed in 2017. The company was named after the 19th-century inventor Nikola Tesla, best known for discovering the properties of rotating electromagnetic fields. His work led to what is known as “alternating current,” the form of electrical transmission still used today. At the founding of Tesla, Eberhard served as its CEO and Tarpenning served as CFO.

Although Musk is now the face of Tesla, he did not join the company until 2004. He invested $30 million into the company and became the chairman of its Board of Directors.

In 2006, they unveiled the prototype for their Tesla Roadster which entered production in 2008. With the Roadster, Tesla achieved something that no company ever had. They produced an entirely electric car that could meet consumer needs. Previous experiments in this field had failed because companies struggled to produce a battery powerful enough to keep cars on the road and a cost-effective motor that could fit inside a vehicle. The Roadster used a standard lithium-ion battery, common to many electronic devices, and customers could recharge the car in a standard wall outlet in charging stations and from their own homes.

Although electric cars are the future and it is here to stay, there are still various issues with it that needs to be fixed in coming years, to enable the whole world to shift to electric transportation. For instance, charging time is one of the biggest problems with the electric cars. While Tesla has drastically improved its technology, to this day it takes more than an hour to fully recharge a Tesla vehicle. This puts them at a huge disadvantage compared to the fraction of a minute it takes to refill a car with gasoline.

In 2007, Eberhard and Tarpenning surprisingly left Tesla entirely, following which Elon Musk took over as CEO. Soon after, Eberhard and Tarpenning sued Musk, saying that they were forced to leave the company and Musk blamed the two for the struggles the company were going through.

Despite launching the Roadster, in 2009 Tesla faced significant financial problems. The company had less than $10 million in cash on hand, less than it needed to even deliver on the cars it had already sold. The company found a stable solution for its short-term capital concerns when it went public in 2010. Opening on the NASDAQ at $17 a share, Tesla raised $226 million in its IPO.

In 2008 Tesla also announced its first attempt at bringing down the cost of its products, the Model S which would retail for $76,000, three-quarters of the price of the Roadster. While still a luxury car, the Model S was Tesla’s first step toward the mainstream consumer market. The car went into full production in 2012.

The Model S was critically successful. It received awards from several automotive and environmental publications and, setting new benchmarks for what electric vehicles could achieve. The Model S had a range of up to 300 miles and a reduced charging time. By the end of 2012, Tesla discontinued the production of the Roadster to focus on its new line of sedans.

Tesla Cybertruck

Tesla has since expanded its ambitions. In 2015 the company announced a new line of solar energy products designed to power homes and businesses through rechargeable batteries. In 2019, Tesla announced its latest vehicle, the Tesla Cybertruck, which received over 250,000 orders just after its announcement. In 2020, Tesla stocks skyrocketed, with the peak price being $900, making Elon Musk the richest man on the planet for a few days, and Tesla emerged as the world’s most valuable vehicle company.

Following Tesla’s success, major vehicle companies like Mercedes Benz, Audi, BMW, among others, realized the potential of electric cars and has since then made it their first priority to develop their own electric vehicles. Reports say that Apple is also planning to enter the EV market soon. With multiple companies competing in the market, it is certain that the world’s roads will be taken over by sustainable electric vehicles in just a matter of few years.  

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