Tesla Motors was founded in California in July of 2003 by a group of investors and entrepreneurs that included Elon Musk, the man who founded Paypal.
Eager to bring an all-electric vehicle to the market, the partners invested substantial amounts of their personal money into the company in order to develop its first model, a two-seater sports car based on the Lotus Elise. Called simply Roadster, it was...
fitted with a carbon fiber body and powered by an all-electric drivetrain that gave it a maximum driving range of 245 miles. The Roadster sold well among EV aficionados but it remained largely a niche product. Still, it is credited with propelling Tesla to the world stage.
TeslaÃ¢s fortunes changed in June of 2009 when it was awarded a $465 million loan from the United States Department of Energy as part of its advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program. The money largely funded the development of the Model S, the first car Tesla designed in-house, and it helped the company expand its factory in California.
The Model S was a hit almost immediately after its launch and it won accolades from the press and the public alike. S sales helped Tesla stock skyrocket beyond every analystÃ¢s predictions, turning the company into one of the most valuable automakers in the world.
Tesla increased operating profits by selling green car credits issued by the government of California to larger automakers like General Motors, and by helping companies such as Toyota and Mercedes-Benz develop all-electric drivetrains for existing vehicles. By May of 2013, the company had generated enough cash to reimburse the Department of EnergyÃ¢s loan several years ahead of schedule and before any of the other recipients.
Tesla was back in headlines when it introduced a network of ultra-quick charging stations called Supercharger. The stations are scattered throughout the west coast and make it possible for an EV owner to drive from San Diego, California, to Vancouver, WA.
Now led by Musk, Tesla offers several variants of the Model S, a large, luxurious four-door sedan with seating for up to seven passengers. Tesla has chosen to eschew dealers and it distributes its cars through wholly-owned stores, a policy that has landed it in court in several states.