The Roadster was Tesla’s first EV.  It is the first lithium-ion battery based production vehicle to travel more than 200 miles per charge.  The first production model was released in 2008.  Production is stopping in 2011, and will recommence in 2014.   The current version is the Roadster 2.5.  It can travel 240miles per charge.  It has over 7000 lithium-ion cells.

The Roadster is a 2-seater vehicle that has been compared to the Porsche Boxster.  It’s current iteration can do 0 to 60 in 3.7 or 3.9 seconds depending on which version you purchase.  It has a retail base price of $109,000.  It is a remarkable sports car.  It’s trunk space is limited, due to the 6,381 lithium-ion cells that reside in the back, but it will accommodate a full set of golf clubs.

If you examine the electric cars that are offered today, aside from what Tesla has produced and is currently working on, you’ll find, the Chevrolet Volt, and the Nissan Leaf.  The Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf are consumer vehicles with simple contemporary designs and limited ranges.   The Chevy Volt is not a true EV because it has an onboard motor who’s purpose is to recharge the batteries.  It averages 37mpg.  The Nissan Leaf on the other hand is a true EV.  It is all electric unlike the Volt.  However its range is limited to 75 miles. 

So clearly there is another pure EV, and another that is (sort-of) an EV that still relies on gasoline.  So what makes the cars that Tesla Motors produces different?  First of all, Tesla Motors is the only company making solely electric vehicles.  They do not make any variation such as a hybrid.  Their goal is to only produce mass-market electric cars.  They are expert engineers at producing electric drivetrains.  In fact, their drivetrain design is so desirable, that Toyota and Daimler have relationships with them, and Toyota’s new 2012 RAV4 will be using Tesla’s drivetrain.  The speedometer on the RAV4 proudly boasts this: Powered by Tesla!   

Tesla Motors has incredible car designers on board that make cars that are highly desirable from the outside in.  They are innovators that think out of the box are doing new things, such as using large touchscreen infotainment panels instead of complex controls on their dashboard.

Tesla is a relatively new brand of automobiles made by Tesla Motors.  Tesla Motors, founded in 2003, designs zero-emission electric vehicle powertrain components, and zero-emission electric vehicles.   The vehicles they manufacture, will change how we fuel our automobiles. 

You have to admit that this is one of those times, that a mature industry like the auto industry gets a refresh.  We are in the midst of a change that has the potential to alter the way we drive, the way we fuel, and in the process, make this planet a whole lot greener.  We’ve done a lot of damage since the invention of the fossil-fuel-based automobile, but hopefully, with time, we can undo what we’ve done and improve the quality of life for all living things on our planet.  Tesla Motors is helping to put us on that path.

The first electric car was invented in 1832.  But by 1912 it became obsolete.  Learn about EV history and the history of how Tesla Motors made the electric vehicle a reality again today.

Ironically, EV’s (electric vehicles) were invented in 1832!  The first practical EV was built in 1835.  These used regular batteries, so you couldn’t recharge them.  In 1859, that changed when a french physicist invented the rechargeable battery.  The first successful electric vehicle was built by William Morrison in Des Moines, Iowa.  By 1895 a variety of different manufacturers exhibited electric cars in Chicago and four years later, the first electric taxi appeared roaming the streets of New York City.

So what happened?   We started on the right foot creating and using a vehicle that would have change history as we know it.  It wouldn’t have completely removed our carbon footprint, but it would have reduced it by a substantial amount.  According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), in 2006, 1/3 of all pollution was caused by gasoline-powered vehicles.

But let’s get back to the history.  At this point in history, gasoline-powered vehicles were starting to appear, but electric cars didn’t smell bad, and you could just start them; you didn’t have to use a hand crank to get them going.  Also, there were no gears.  Shifting gears on a gasoline-powered car was not easy back then, so electric cars were most popular.   In 1908 Henry Ford introduced the assembly line that enabled Ford to mass produce cars, unlike any other manufacturer in that point in history.  But it wasn’t until 1912  when the first practical electric starter was invented that began to change everything; no more hand crank!  Ironically, the peak of sales in electric cars was that very same year.

By 1920 the electric car was no longer considered to be a practical vehicle.  It’s range was limited compared to gasoline-powered cars and so was its horsepower.  The rest is history.  

Let’s fast-forward 46 years.  In 1966, Congress introduced a bill recommending electric vehicles as an alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles.   A poll even demonstrated that as many as 33 million Americans were interested in  electric cars!  By 1970, oil prices started escalating.  Inventors began tinkering with electric cars and CitiCar produced an EV that could go 30mph and travel up to 40 miles (in warm weather).   In 1975, the US Postal Service bought 350 electric Jeeps from American Motors as a test, and 1 year later, the Congress passed the Electric Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development, and Demonstration Act intending to restart the electric hybrid vehicle market

But it wasn’t till 1988 that a major automobile manufacturer, namely, GM, designs the EV1 and manufactures it and leases it from 1996 to 1999.    Even a 2nd version of the EV1 was created and leased from 2000-2003.Initially, the EV1 had a real range of 60 miles, and later 80-100 miles.  The second generation had an improved range of 100-140 miles with NiMH batteries.    This car required a special charger that had to be installed in your home.  People who used this car loved it.  Sadly, GM decided to terminate their EV program and in a mystery that is discussed in  a film titled, “Who Killed the Electric Car”, collected all cars from their lessors and destroyed them.

Tesla Motors

Founded by Elon Musk, Marc Tarpening and Martin Eberhard in 2003

JB Straubel is CTO

Franz Von Holzhausen is Chief Designer

June 2006 revealed the Tesla Roadster to the public with a test drive by Arnold Schwarznegger who was Governor at the time.

Tesla Motors became a publicly traded company in June 2010.

Closing Stock Price TSLA - $33.30

How are Tesla automobiles different?

The Tesla Roadster EV

A Brief History of EVs (Electric Vehicles)

What is a Tesla?

Tesla Motors: How it all Began

Elon Musk came to California in 1995 with a goal to commercialize electric vehicles.  So he set off to Stanford University to complete graduate studies in applied physics and materials science with a plan to create ultra-capacitors with sufficient energy to power electric cars.  He had already earned undergraduate degrees in economics and physics from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business which he attended with a scholarship.

This goal of commercializing the electric car would take lots of capital.  Ironically, just two days after being at Stanford, he dropped out and ended up on a wealth-building journey between 1995 and 2002 that enabled him to earn the funds he needed in the first place to make this goal (and others) a reality.  When he dropped out, he did so to start Zip2, a content publishing company for news organizations, along with his brother, Kimbal Musk.  He thought a graduate degree would not get him any closer to achieving his goals.  Zip2 was purchased in 1999 by Compaq’s AltaVisa division for $307 million. 


Tesla Model S, is Tesla Motors’ new, soon to be released family sports sedan.  It has received a lot of attention, due to its design, its passenger capacity, cargo space, and ground-breaking innovations.   It will go into production in Mid-2012 and is currently in Beta stage.  The few iterations of the car that exist in Beta are being taken to Tesla dealership/boutiques and shows on tour.  It is high demand and Tesla Motors has pre-sold its entire 2012 inventory and has already began pre-selling 2013 inventory.

In a not new, but rather, an idea bought back from the past, it offers seating four 7 via 2 fold and hide seats similar to the rear-facing seats found in the station wagon vehicles of the 60’s and 70’s.    If you’re feeling lonely, you’ll be pleased to know that the car also comes equipped with Google Voice to enable you to speak commands from the touch of your steering wheel.

Among its unique features is a touchscreen dashboard interface which consists of a 17” touch panel screen, akin to the Apple iPad.  Some journalists are calling it the “dashboard of the future.”   This “infotainment” panel will allow you to check the cars diagnostics, that is how it is charging or using its power.  You can be connected with your phone and have your contacts uploaded to the dash along with pertinent information such as address, contact photo, etc.  It offers navigations with a map that will optionally fill the screen in its entirety thus offering what we believe to be the largest GPS screen ever put into a vehicle.   This interface will be equipped with 3g or 4g access to provide internet connectivity while on the road.  Not that you can necessarily browse the web while driving.  We anticipate that that ability will be disabled while the car is in motion.  However, this connectivity will allow you to also access audio streams from the internet such as Pandora or Internet radio.  Along with this connectivity, you are able to check on your cars status to see how many miles of fuel you have remaining and ultimately you will be able to manage climate control while you are away from the vehicle.  The features of the dashboard can grow during the life of the car, especially since it will allow for third-party apps.  The car too sports some other think-out-of-the-box features like enabling automatic climate control or remote climate control from an iPhone.  

A Sales Manager, Adam Sussler at the Los Angeles Tesla Motors showroom/dealership suggested that ultimately the car may have the ability to learn your climate habits such that when the car learns that you turn on the heater because you want a certain temperature in the morning before you leave, and that you leave every morning Monday through Friday at 7:25am, that it will begin adjusting your climate control for you, in anticipation of your typical habits before you even get in your car.

The Telsa Model S is available with 3 types of battery packs that allow you to have a range of either 160, 230, or 300.  Stepping up to 230 costs an additional $10,000, while stepping up to the 300 mile range, costs an additional $20,000.  Tesla Motors is committing to manufacturing 5000 cars in 2012, while 20,000 cars will be produced a year thereafter, in 2013.  Tesla Motors is excepting delivery to begin in July 2012.  As of October 28th, the car is sold out for 2012.  The first 1000 cars in the US will be given to US adopters who wish to buy the “Signature” version of the car.  This is the only way to get one in 2012 since there are still spots available for these.  This Signature series is “well-equipped” per Tesla Motors, but how well equipped has not been disclosed as of yet.  All that is known for certain is that it will come with the 300 mile battery pack, which means, that at a minimum, it will cost around $77,400.  However, in a recent interview with Elon Musk, the CEO of Telsa Motors, he disclosed that it could get close to $100,000, although they are trying to keep that version below 6 digits.  If you want to get that version, then you have to order it either at a Tesla Motors shop, or online at, but it comes at a price.  You’ll have to be willing to deposit $40,000 via bank wire.  If you wish to order a regular model you’ll have to deposit $5,000.  However, if for whatever reason, you change your mind, your deposit is fully refundable as long as you ask for it before you commit to your contract.  As a reservation holder, you would be contacted approximately 3 months before the production of your vehicle.  At that time, you may defer the date on which you vehicle enters production to a later date.  How much later, has not been disclosed.

The Tesla Model S EV




An energy engineer by the name of JB Straubel had an interest in electric vehicles too, and while in college had designed a Hybrid Trailer System.    Earlier, at the age of 14, he discovered a junked electric golf cart in a Wisconsin junkyard and decided to rebuild it, sparking his interest for energy technology and electric vehicles.  He acquired a B.S. in Energy Systems Engineering and an M.S. in Energy Engineering with an emphasis on energy conversion from Stanford University.  After college, he went to work for Rosen Motors as a propulsion engineer.     Rosen Motors was founded in 1990 by Harold Rosen, an electrical engineer, and his brother, Benjamin Rosen.  They developed a gas turbine powered hybrid powertrain with an energy storage subsystem that even used regenerative braking.  Later Harold Rosen and JB Straub together founded Volacom, an aerospace firm that designed a high-altitude aircraft that used hybrid electric propulsion invented by Straub.  In 2000 Straubel had converted a Porsche 944 to an electric vehcile and held a 1/4 mile word record at 17.28 seconds at 79.4 mph.

During their lunch meeting, Straubel mentioned a company called AC propulsion that had developed a prototype electric sports car using a gasoline-powered kit car.  Instead, it used lithium-ion batteries and had a range of 250 miles.  It also offered lots of torque and could go 0-60 in under 4 seconds. 

When Musk visited AC Propulsion, he not only was demo’d the car, he also got to drive it.  He was impressed.  He tried to for months to convince AC Propulsion to commercialize the electric vehicle and even asked them to make one for him, but they had no interest in doing so.  Instead, Tom Gage, the president of AC Propulsion introduced Musk and Straubel to another team that shared the same interest so that they together they could increase their potential for success in commercializing an electric vehicle.   The other team included Martin Eberhard, Marc Tarpenning and Ian Wright.  Eberhard interests grew from frustration in seeing people who could afford high-end cars with what he called “punishment cars.”  This observation started from a walk he went on one day where he observed driveways with beautiful Mercedes-Benz, BMW’s and other fine cars with ecological cars like Priuses parked next to them.  He thought, why is that when someone wants to be environmentally conscious the only choice out there are budget-minded cars with limited style?  Why instead of competing based on price, why not compete based on other factors such as performance and design so that an alternative fuel car could exist that people actually wanted.  As Martin Eberhard and his friend Marc Tarpenning explored this, they even looked at celluosic ethanol and hydrogen fuel cells before ultimately deciding to work on the electric car. 

Ian Wright, a native of New Zealand had studied telecommunications and some electrical engineering.  When Wright was 10, he converted an old lawn mower into a go-kart.  That interest matured to an interest in real automobile racing.  He earned his racing license in 1989 and practiced the sport until 1993 when he moved to California.  He was working at Ditech in charge of over 100 engineers who were building a scalable optical switching system.  That company ultimately went bust with with the recession.  He was then planning to start his own optical subsystems company but was not having success in getting any venture capital.  Fortunately, one day his neighbor, Martin Eberhard, started to chat about having just incorporated a electric car manufacturing company.  Wright thought the idea was far-fetched but did the neighborly thing and offered to take a look at Eberhard’s business plan.   Wright never dreamed that he was about to read a document that would propel him into a dream that would enable him to work together with electronics, software and cars.  By the end of the year, Wright abandoned his optical switching company.

They joined forces that year and formed Tesla Motors Inc.  Straubel became CTO, Eberhard became CEO, Marc Tarpenning became CFO, and Elon Musk became the Chairman and the Head of Product Design.  Ian Wright became Tesla Motors’ first employee as VP of Vehicle Development.  Musk provided the majority of funds for the startup with $7.5 million of his own personal cash in the first round of capital investment as well as contributing to subsequent rounds.  Other investors in the first round of funding included Compass Technology Partners and SDL Ventures.  After five rounds of funding, Tesla Motors had raised $187 million.  Among later investment partners were Google cofounders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin as well as Jeff Skoll, eBay’s former President.

Creating a new car company was not easy.  In the United States, all car companies had a 100-year history and since that time no one had tried.  Clearly, starting a car company was challenging and it required a great deal  of capital; in fact 5 times more than they expected.  Nevertheless, Tesla Motors produced 2500 Roadsters and are on their way to producing their next car, the Model S in mid-2012 which as of Dec 1, 2011, already has over 8000 reservations.  This startup showed other car makers that creating electric vehicles was viable.  This became truly evident in 2009 when Bob Lutz, former CEO of General Motors said, “If some Silicon Valley startup can solve this equation, no one is going to tell me anymore that it’s unfeasible.”

In June 2010, Tesla Motors went public.  The rest is history... still in the making.

In March of 1999, Elon Musk co-founded, an online financial services company that offered payments via email.  A year later, merged with Confinity, a Palm Pilot payments and cryptography company.  After the merger, they initially kept the name, but changed it to Paypal after surveys revealed that some users saw the name as vague whiles others saw it suggesting it’s name had to do with adult-oriented content.  In October 2002, eBay acquired Paypal for $1.5 billion in stock after having lackluster success with BillPoint, their own attempt at an online payment system.  Elon Musk, owned 11.7% of Paypal’s shares before its sale.   According to a USA Today article, in April 2003 his net-worth was estimated to be $200 million

By 2002, Elon Musk had launched SpaceX, a space transport business, and had made his interest in Space and in electric vehicles public.  So in 2003, JB Straub phoned Musk and invited him to meet so that they could discuss space and electric car related interests.  JB Straub was interested in discussing electric cars, and may have strategically invited his former employer and partner, Harold Rosen to the meeting as well, since Harold Rosen was not only involved in cars technology, but also happened to also be the “father of the geostationary satellite.”  Rosen led the team that designed and built the first geosynchronous satellite, which was successfully launched in 1961.