Tesla: a major player in the energy transition

Tesla is a manufacturer of electric cars. Although it has only been in existence since 2003, the company is worth as much as the 9 biggest carmakers combined.

Tesla history

The Tesla Foundation

Tesla was founded on July 1, 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning under the name Tesla Motors. The idea was to create “a carmaker that was also a technology company”.

Elon Musk arrived as an investor, investing 6.5 and 7.5 million euros in the first round of financing in February 2004. He then became Chairman of the Board.

These three people, along with the first two employees (Ian Wright and J.B.Straubel), who joined Tesla in 2003 and 2004 respectively, are considered the co-founders of Tesla Motors.

A revolutionary electric car: the Roadster

From the outset, Tesla’s strategy was to start with high-end sports cars and then move on to more mass-market vehicles.

The cornerstone of this strategy was the Tesla Roadster: an electric sports car, which was produced from 2008 to 2012.

This period brought many organizational changes. Eberhard was ousted as CEO in 2007, before leaving the company in January 2008, followed by the other co-founder, Marc Tarpenning, in the same month. Elon Musk became CEO in October 2008.

The company also raised several rounds of financing, bringing the total raised to $187 million in January 2009. Elon Musk added a further $70 million to this sum, and the company obtained a $465 million loan from the US Department of Energy.

Tesla on the stock market, energy model S, X

The production of the Model S takes the company to a new level. In 2010, Tesla buys a former factory in Frémont for $42 million, to be known as the “Tesla Factory”. The following month, in June, Tesla Motors goes public. It raises $226 million.

Production of the Roadster is halted in January 2012, and in June the company’s second car is launched: the“Model S” luxury sedan. It would become the world’s best-selling electric car in 2015 and 2016, despite its prohibitive price: over $70,000.

In April 2015, Tesla also enters the energy storage market with its Powerwall domestic and Powerpack industrial batteries. It received orders worth $800 million in the following weeks. To build them, the first gigafactory, planned back in 2014, is built in Nevada. It was inaugurated on July 29, 2016.

The second Gigafactory was also launched in 2014 in the city of Buffalo, New York, to produce photovoltaic cells. It has been operational since August 2017.

The company’s third vehicle, the “Model X” luxury SUV, was launched in September 2015.

In 2016, it acquires Solarcity, a company that manufactures, finishes and installs photovoltaic solar panels.

Tesla conquers the market

The Tesla Model 3 goes on sale in July 2017. Less expensive than its predecessors, it was aimed at the mass market, with success: from its launch, it mobilized 455,000 pre-orders … The company nevertheless had production problems honoring them all.

It is expanding its capacities with several new “gigafactories”:

  • The Giga Shanghai plant in 2019, opening on December 30, 2019
  • The Giga Berlin, announced in 2019 and scheduled to open in late 2021
  • The Giga Texas, for which construction began in November 2020

The company becomes profitable: after 4 cumulative profitable quarters, it enters the S&P500 index and immediately becomes its 6th largest company.

Tesla’s market capitalization rises from 2020. On January 10, Tesla becomes the most valuable American automaker, and on June 10, 2020, its market capitalization exceeds that of BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen combined. The following month, it reached $206 billion, surpassing that of Toyota, then the world’s highest-valued automaker. It multiplied by 4 again that same year, reaching $848 billion in January 2021, more than the 9 biggest automakers combined and the 5th most valuable company in the USA…

Tesla car models

Tesla has marketed 5 models:

  • Roadster
  • Model S
  • Model X
  • Model 3
  • Model Y

The automaker also announced the Tesla Roadster II.

Tesla Roadster

Unveiled on July 19, 2006, the Roadster went into series production on March 17, 2008. It already had a range of 370 km and could accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.7 seconds. These were records for the time.

It cost around €120,000 or $125,000 and sold 2,680 units. Production stopped at the end of 2011.

Tesla Model S

A luxury sedan launched in 2012 with a 58.5 kWh battery, it had an EPA range of 335 km. Its battery can now reach 98 kWh and its EPA range 539 km. The 2021 model will go even further, with a range of 628 km to 837 km. Prices range from €89,990 to €139,990, depending on the model.

In 2015, Challenge tested a model priced at €128,300 with options. O1net also offers an interesting test with a model priced at 85,000€.

Tesla Model X

The Model X is a family SUV launched in 2015. Its launch price will be between $57,400 (€43,493) and $100,000 (€75,770).

At launch, it will feature a 70-90 kWh battery with an EPA range of 322-414 km. It is now 100 kWh and offers an EPA range of 465 km.

It exceeded 70,000 sales in 2017.

Tesla Model X seen from the back. Credits: Wikipedia

Tesla Model 3

The Model 3 had been planned since 2007, as part of the aforementioned strategy of moving from luxury to mainstream car. It went on sale in 2017 with a 50.2 kWh to 74.5 kWh battery, offering an NEDC range of 445 to 668 km.

The battery is now 52.2 kWh to 77.4 kWh, for an NEDC range of 508 to 657 km. The price is much more affordable, with the base version available at €43,800 before environmental bonus, €36,800 after.

File:First generation of Tesla Model 3, Paris area - 2021-03-19.jpg
Tesla Model 3. Credits: Wikipedia

Tesla Model Y

Available from 2020, the Tesla Model Y is an SUV with a WLTP range of 480 to 540 km, powered by a 77.4 kWh (usable) battery. On the freeway, it can do 350 to 390 km in one go.

The basic price tag is €63,000 or €70,000.


A number of announced models are not yet on the market.

Tesla Roadster II

The new version of Tesla’s famous sports car is scheduled for 2020 at a price of $200,000. It could accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 1.1 seconds and exceed 400 km/h.

Tesla Semi

The Tesla Semi, announced in 2017, is an electric semi-trailer scheduled for production in 2021. By 2020, thousands of orders had already been received from prestigious brands.

They would have a range of 480 to 800 km (!!!) and cost between $150,000 and $200,000. It would also save on fuel, going from $1.51 per mile for a diesel truck to $0.85 for the Tesla Semi.

Tesla Cybertruck

The Tesla Cybertruck is a pickup-type off-road utility vehicle scheduled for production from 2021. It is said to have an EPA range of between 400 and 800 km, and a price tag of between $40,000 and $70,000.

File:Tesla Cybertruck outside unveil modB.jpg
Tesla cybertruck. Credit: Wikipedia

Further information

TheWikipedia article is very, very rich. It also refers you to very detailed pages on the different models.