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Tesla is celebrating 20 years of turning the auto industry on its head with tech-savvy EVs. After Silicon Valley engineers founded Tesla in 2003, the company has enjoyed a history of disruptive innovation that created an immovable fan base with EVs like the Model S. So, how did Elon Musk’s electric car marque rise to such prominence? 

When was Tesla founded?

A blue Tesla Model S cruises on a city street.
Model S | Tesla

Engineers Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning founded Tesla Motors in July 2003. That’s right; Elon Musk didn’t take the helm of the Silicon Valley electric car manufacturer until October 2008. 

While Eberhard and Tarpenning were the company’s original founders, Elon Musk, Ian Wright, and JB Straubel came on later as co-founders, per Business Insider. Elon Musk became the automaker’s CEO the same year the company released its first model, the small-statured Roadster. 

What is the story behind Tesla?

After Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning founded Tesla in 2003, the company’s leadership secured enough funding to manufacture its first production EVs. The Roadster was the brand’s first market-ready electric car, followed by Model S deliveries in June 2012. 

Following the first deliveries of Tesla’s flagship luxury sedan, the Model S, the automaker enjoyed enough success to open factories outside of California. Specifically, the first in Tesla’s manufacturing history was the Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada, followed by Gigafactories in New York, Shanghai, Berlin, and Texas.

Today, Tesla produces multiple EVs and alternative energy solutions like solar panels. However, the California automaker isn’t satisfied with its electric car market dominance; Elon Musk says the company wants to produce 20 million EVs by 2030. 

What is the order of the Tesla models?

Elon Musk, one of the men who founded Tesla, stands in front of a Model X, the first SUV in the marque's history.
Elon Musk with a Model X | Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

While the electric car marque started with just one model, it has expanded to multiple family-friendly EVs and incipient electric trucks. 

Roadster2008-2012, 2023
Model S2012-Present
Model X2016-Present
Model 32017-Present
Model Y2019-Present
CybertruckStarts production 2023
SemiIndustrial deliveries started 2022

How has Tesla changed the world?

A Tesla Model X, the first SUV in the company's history, drives down a back road.
Model X | Tesla

In short: Tesla changed the industry and put electric cars on consumers’ radar. Before Tesla, the closest thing to a ubiquitous alternative energy car were models like the venerable Toyota Prius, a far cry from the zero tailpipe emissions of Musk’s automaker.

Moreover, the Model S has been around for over a decade now. Further, the Model S is an automotive microcosm of EV progress. At its inception, the Model S boasted around 265 miles of single-charge range. Today, the dual-motor AWD Model S gets as much as 405 miles of range, and the Plaid trim is one of the fastest sedans ever made. 

From a market standpoint, the California carmaker proved that EVs and non-legacy manufacturers have the potential to become multi-billion dollar enterprises. According to Business Insider, Tesla finished its first day of trading 13 years ago with a market cap of $2.22 billion. Today, The Motley Fool says the automaker has the potential to become the “Amazon of energy.” Furthermore, the financial analysts at The Motley Fool said that the EV marque could be a $10 trillion company in the next decade.    

What’s next for Elon Musk’s EV automaker?

Elon Musk’s electric car marque has its gaze set on continuing to dominate the electric car space. According to Nikkei Asia, the EV automaker is partnering with Toyota to produce affordable electric cars for the next generation. Moreover, the company is hinting at a more affordable model of its own. 

What do you think of Tesla’s brief history and its impact? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


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