|Location||Headquarters: Palo Alto, California, USA.
Production plant: Fremont, California, USA.
||2015 delivery: 50,580 units
2014 delivery: 31,655 units
2013 delivery: 22,442 units
2012 delivery: 3,000 units (approx.)
|Introduction||Many electric car start-ups, such as Think!, Fisker and
Venturi, wanted to revolutionize the automotive industry but they all
failed. Unlike them, Tesla is close to succeed. Although it has yet to
turn a profit since its establishment more than a decade ago, its
Roadster and Model S proved that electric cars will be the next big
thing. In particular, the Model S shows not only amazing performance
and efficiency but also a high level of build quality and maturity you
won't expect a new venture like Tesla could achieve. It also shows how
badly the Detroit Big 3 missed a great opportunity. Tesla could be the
While Tesla's electric cars are still more costly to build than conventional cars, time is on its side. Progress in battery technology guarantees that electric cars will be cheaper and cheaper to build in the future, whereas conventional engines will get more costly in order to satisfy the ever tightening emission regulations. Expect the company will be eventually profitable once its new Model X and Model 3 go on sale and its new Gigafactory starts producing batteries in large scale.
||Tesla was founded by Silicone Valley IT entrepreneurs Martin
Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning in 2003 to build a revolutionary electric
sports car, the Roadster. The idea was to put its own electric
powertrain and battery pack into the chassis of Lotus Elise. It sounded
simple, but the execution was proved to be much more troublesome,
especially as the Tesla guys had no experience in car development and
production at all. Serious delay and overbudget nearly killed the firm,
if not saved by Elon Musk.
PayPal founder Elon Musk is an even richer IT entrepreneur. He joined Tesla in 2004 as its largest stake holder. Seeing the car's development as well as the company's management ran into a mess, he ousted Eberhard and took over the helm himself. On the one hand he improved the management and financial discipline, on the other hand he raised more capital from private investors, many of whom were also Silicone Valley IT tycoons. The Roadster eventually went into production in 2008, and it surprised people with its strong acceleration and decent practicality. The world started paying attention to this Silicone Valley start-up.
Tesla Roadster (2008)
However, Tesla was still burning cash, and quicker than ever as it had begun developing the next big thing, Model S. While the Roadster couldn't quite match conventional sports cars for overall performance, the Model S overwhelmed conventional luxury sedans in many ways, including practicality (it seated 5+2 and had 2 large trunks), performance (0-60 mph in 4.4 sec), handling (thanks to mounting the heavy battery under floor) and IT technology (that huge touchscreen on center console controlled everything!). For its production, Tesla acquired the ex-NUMMI factory from Toyota at a bargain price during the global recession. The car became a hit in the US and overseas and was seen as a modern alternative to Mercedes S-class, BMW 7-Series and Lexus LS etc. Tesla finally took off!
Model S (2012)