Hybrids & Electrics

Is Tesla an American Car Company?

When it comes to all-electric vehicles, no company enjoys as much popularity as Tesla. Its CEO, Elon Musk, took the luxury automaker to a new level when he introduced the Model S, Model X, and others. 

Now Musk is taking Tesla’s talents overseas, CNN reports. But before we get to that, let’s briefly look at the EV maker’s history. 

Tesla’s early beginnings

According to Britannica, American engineers Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning founded Tesla in 2003. They named their fledgling company for the Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla. And backing the venture was former PayPal CEO Elon Musk. He put up about $30 billion in 2004 to help them get on their feet.

Originally, the manufacturing company developed an electric sports car, which they worked on for the next few years. In 2008, an all-electric roadster rolled off the production line.

The roadster achieved what seemed unthinkable back then, traveling 245 miles on a single charge. Accelerating to 60 mph in under four seconds, its performance matched that of gasoline-powered sports cars. The price tag for the roadster car ranged from about $80,000 to $120,000. 

How Tesla became a big automaker

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Eberhard and Tarpenning left Tesla in 2008. When Musk took over, he began moving the company in a new direction. In 2012, he ended the roadster’s production to concentrate on the Model S sedan. Critics praised it.

The new sedan offered three battery options, allowing the Model S to get anywhere from 235 to 300 miles on a charge. Acceleration times were similar to the roadster, slightly over four seconds for a 0-to-60 run. 

One noticeable difference in the Model S was the battery’s location. Musk moved it from the front, where it had been on the roadster, to underneath the floor. The move improved the car’s storage space and handling. From there, more Teslas were produced, including the Model X and Model 3. In 2017, the company tweaked its name to Tesla Motors. 

Tesla’s overseas venture

Recently, Musk spent $2 billion on a new manufacturing plant in Shanghai, China. The plans have been in the works for a while. Construction began slowly, but Chinese officials have offered to help get it up and running for production much faster than anticipated. 

Plans are to have the plant completed by this summer so production can begin by the end of the year and running at full capacity by next year. The goal is to build 1,000 Model 3 vehicles each week to meet demand.

China boasts one of the world’s largest automotive markets. That’s one of the reasons why Musk wanted to take Tesla there. He could’ve produced all vehicles on U.S. soil, but the tariffs to export cars to China are too high. It’s cheaper to manufacture vehicles over there. However, cars made in China won’t be sold in American. 

Tesla has remained an American company since its inception in 2003. But as the company grows, it’s expanding overseas, namely China, at least for now. Who knows, Elon Musk might expand Tesla’s horizons even further.