Tesla was officially founded in 2003 with the goal of inventing an electric car that was powerful and beautiful with zero emissions.
Eberhard and Tarpenning asked to meet Musk to share their idea of the electric car with him.
Tesla, as part of its secret to success, continues to focus on creating electric cars and making EV powertrain systems and components.
Tesla has been reigning supreme in the media spotlight since 2013 along with its CEO Elon Musk, when it unleashed its flagship car the Model S. Hailed as one of the few successful independent automakers along with being a pioneer when it comes to the electric car market, (contrary to popular belief).
The origin of Tesla dates back in 1990. The company was founded in 2003 by two Silicon Valley engineers Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, who, according to the company website, “wanted to prove that ”
After a while, Eberhard and Tarpenning's bromance blossomed into a business relationship. They started doing consulting together for disk-drive companies, working from cafés with some embryonic forms of mobile computing - early cellphones, laptops, PalmPilots.
Aside from common interest, they shared a passion for starting companies, resulting in the launch of companies including NuvoMedia, which released the Rocket eBook in 1998. Then came the passion for autos when Eberhard went through a divorce and decided to buy a sports car.
Founders of Tesla meet Elon Musk
In 2001, Eberhard and Tarpenning met Elon Musk when they heard him speak at a Mars Society talk at Stanford University and introduced themselves. Luckily, Musk had a successful history of starting up companies. He along with Peter Thiel and Max Levchin were co-founders of PayPal. After making a fortune from his shares in PayPal, which he sold to eBay in 2002, musk launched another company Space X – a designer and manufacturer of advanced rockets and spacecraft.
A few years later their paths crossed again when Eberhard and Tarpenning asked to meet Musk to share their idea of the electric car with him. The three met to discuss the idea with Musk on board.
Tesla was officially founded in 2003 with the goal of inventing an electric car that was powerful and beautiful with zero emissions. Other co-founders were JB Straubel who is still the CTO at Tesla and Ian Wright who left Tesla in 2004 and founded another company Wrightspeed.
Elon Musk joins Tesla
Elon Musk has become the face of Tesla and is at times mistaken as the company’s founder or co-founder. Musk is a South African-born Canadian-American who was trained as an engineer. He earned a dual bachelor of science in Physics and Economics from the University of Pennsylvania.
Elon Musk is an entrepreneur and inventor at heart. In 1995, Musk enrolled in Stanford's Applied Physics Ph D program but dropped out in order to focus on his business efforts in the renewable energy and outer space arena.
With his early fortune from PayPal, Musk founded his third company SpaceX, an outer-space exploration company. After a meeting and pitch with Eberhard and Tarpenning, Musk came on board Tesla as the chair of the company’s board of directors, and played a key role in helping the company raise money. The company’s investors included friends and family, and a litany of VC firms including Valor Equity Partners.
“When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.”
– Enrique Dans, Leadership Strategy, Forbes
In the years between 2004 and 2008, , The Roadster. The company opened its manufacturing plant in Fremont, CA, a 5.5 million square feet factory that used to be owned by Toyota and General Motors. The factory is known as Nummi which includes two paint facilities, a 1.5 miles of assembly lines.
Musk became the company’s CEO in 2008 and product architect, positions he still holds. That same year Tesla launched its first car and sports car the Roadster. "It is not just a car, but one of the strongest automotive statements on the road,” Car and Driver wrote. The Executive Summary for The Roadster reveals that the company has always been focused on the mechanics of the car as much as the design. “High performance” as defined in the executive summary included going from 0-60mph in less than 3.9 seconds, and zero maintenance for up to 100,000 miles other than tires.
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Tesla, as part of its secret to success, continues to focus on creating electric cars and making EV powertrain systems and components. The company has a network of 80 stores and galleries across North America, Europe and Asia and over 100 charging stations in the US.
One of the company’s key to success has been focusing on one product at a time. And while Tesla continues to focus on making the Model S, it’s rolling out new models in an effort to expand its customer base. New models in the pipeline include the Model X SUV, which started production in early 2015.
In order to move with the changing times, Tesla has tried to launch new product that aim to target a wider range of consumers. In the pipeline is also the Model E a cheaper version of the Model S, which will come in at under $40,000.
“The cars nonetheless did a perfect service. From the audience perspective they didn't have a problem. Anybody who got into one of those cars had their opinion of electric cars instantly changed.”
- Martin Eberhard
In an effort to stay competitive in the niche market, in The Netherlands and Lathrop, California. To keep costs down on lithium ion battery packs, Tesla and key strategic partners including Panasonic started building a gigafactory in Nevada that will facilitate the production of a mass-market affordable vehicle, Model 3, according to the company’s website.
The electric car market is growing with luxury auto makers such as Mercedes Benz and BMW jumping into the space too. Analysts forecast that the total global sales of electric vehicles was 320,000 units in 2014, which is on pace to easily exceed 500,000 in 2015. That said, Tesla’s long term success is anyone’s guess. Tesla is aiming to selling 500,000 cars by 2020 but in December 2014, Morgan Stanley’s auto analyst Adam Jonas predicted that the company would fall short by 40%. Jonas has reportedly said that the goal is unrealistic and unachievable.
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Since its inception, Tesla Motors has continuously grown and transitioned from a start-up to an established key industry player. Perhaps, what remains the same is its extraordinary story and how it paved the way for electronic cars and became a pioneer in the automotive industry.