Top 5 Defining Moments in Tesla’s History (So Far)

Few companies have put their weight behind electric car development the way Tesla has. The company recently received a massive government loan for research and development to the tune of $456 million. Considering the company has just now sold 500 vehicles, Tesla CEO Elon Musk must have given one hell of a PowerPoint presentation to Congress.

Though the company has gotten into a tangle of lawsuits with rival Fisker over design and patent issues as of late, Tesla is still confident it has the solution to our fuel and transportation problems. Take a look at the top 5 defining moments in Tesla’s history so far.

The Founding

Tesla founders
Tesla Motors was created in 2003 by engineers Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, and it wasn’t long before they rolled out their first car: the Tesla Roadster. With a 250-mile range, four-second 0-60 time and a top speed of 125 mph, the car has serious go-fast credentials. How would it stand up to the motoring press?

Tesla on Top Gear

Tesla on Top Gear
Eventually, Tesla made such a buzz BBC’s Top Gear had the company’s roadster on for a test. Things didn’t go well. The first car discharged well before the 250-mile range, and while host Jeremy Clarkson was impressed with the car’s near instant acceleration, the backup car’s motor overheated on the first lap. Once the first car was fully charged, it returned to the track only to have its brake systems fail. Top Gear aired the segment, and Tesla chose to respond to the reliability allegations instead of ignoring them, saying the show unfairly portrayed its product.

The Model S

Tesla Model S
Tesla’s second creation will be a four-door sedan. Called the Model S, the car is intended to go head to head with the likes of the petrol-powered BMW 5 Series. With a price tag of around $57,000 and a range of 150 miles, the Model S won’t be winning any marathons anytime soon. It did win the hearts and minds of Congress, however. Buyers can also opt for a more expensive version with a range of 300 miles.

A Government Loan

Tesla Roadster
While the Federal government was doing all it could to stem the Big Three’s bleeding, Tesla sauntered up to the Federal Bank and politely requested $456 million to fund research and development on the Model S. The company got its money despite the fact that very few Roadsters had been sold at that point – less than 500. Needless to say, critics of government spending weren’t happy.

The 500th Roadster

500th Tesla Roadster
Tesla silently cruised past a milestone in June when it sold its 500th Roadster. The $101,500 car went to Martin Tuchman, the CEO of Interpool, just ahead of the launch of a more potent variant in July. The more powerful Roadster boasts 40 extra horsepower over the base version for a grand total of 288 electric ponies.


Need auto repair help? Ask a DriverSide auto mechanic for free.

Track Your Service Records
Get Recall Alerts
Get Updated Value Estimates on Your Car.
Go to a Review