Tesla HistorySource: Tesla MotorsThe Drive to Drive
How exactly does someone get the idea to build a high-performance electric car and, more importantly, convince others that he‘s onto something? The answer lies between the years of 1996 and 2003, and is the story of two innovators named Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning.
In 1996, Martin Eberhard, part environmentalist, part car aficionado, was in search of a sports car that got more than 25 miles to the gallon and left behind low emissions. None was to be found. So necessity became the *** of invention.
'It Should Be Possible.'
These four words became a mantra to Martin, usually spoken to his friend and colleague Marc Tarpenning. This always began a spirited dialogue, turning unlikely places like Peet‘s Coffee into a think tank of sorts. From their days working together on the eBook at NuvoMedia, Martin and Marc had already seen how lightweight batteries with extended life changed the world of readers. Why not drivers?
The Hardest Part: Not What You Expect
It turned out that building a high-performance electric car was 'possible, but difficult,' the ideal situation for the kinds of big vision ideas favored by venture capital firms. The truly hard part wasn‘t finding the brainpower to create the car — or securing the funding to do so — but figuring out how such a vehicle could be manufactured and distributed in the highly vertical, slow-to-change automotive market. Luckily for Tesla Motors, our idea hit at a time when the automotive industry was slowly diversifying and globalizing. This enabled us to build the truly innovative electric powertrain ourselves, and then tap into top sources for other parts outside our expertise (hey, windshield wipers are important, too).
July 1, 2003: Incorporation
This marks the date that Tesla Motors was officially born, a result of a swing-for-the-fences vision, tireless research, a truly eyebrow-raising business plan, and the support of some very forward-thinking venture capitalists.
Tesla Motors designs and will sell high-performance, highly efficient electric sports cars — with no compromises. Tesla Motors cars combine style, acceleration, and handling with advanced technologies that make them among the quickest and at the same time the most energy-efficient cars on the road.
Why the Name 'Tesla'?
The namesake of our Tesla Roadster is the genius Nikola Tesla, a Serbian-born American inventor, electrical engineer, and scientist. Among his life‘s many inventions (and over 700 patents) are the induction motor and alternating-current power transmission. Without Tesla‘s vision and brilliance, our car wouldn‘t be possible. We‘re confident that if he were alive today, Nikola Tesla would look over our car and nod his head with both understanding and approval.
A Bright Moment to Honor the Man Who Lit the World
UNESCO has declared 2006 the Year of Nikola Tesla, in celebration of the 150th anniversary of his birth. We are delighted that the world unveiling of the Tesla Roadster falls on July 19, 2006 — just days after his birthday.
'Were we to seize and eliminate from our industrial world the result of Mr. Tesla‘s work, the wheels of industry would cease to turn, our electric cars and trains would stop, our towns would be dark, and our mills would be idle and dead. His name marks an epoch in the advance of electrical science.'
— B. Behrend, Vice President of the Institute of Electrical Engineers