Oh, so you’re a big Tesla guy, huh? Think you know everything there is to know about Elon Musk, Cybertruck, the Tesla Semi, and the upcoming Tesla Roadster? Well, maybe you do, but we’re going to put that to the test with these 7 incredible facts about Tesla. And you’ve probably never heard at least 2 before.
For all you Tesla-heads out there, we’re about to drop some knowledge on you. So, strap in, listen up, and enjoy the ride. Here are 7 facts about Tesla you didn’t know!
#1: Elon Didn’t Start Tesla
When you think about Tesla Motors, there’s one name that’s become pretty much synonymous with the company. And that, of course, is our boy Elon Musk. While most people believe that he was the mastermind who actually founded the company and started the craze over these high-tech EVs, Musk was actually first brought in as Chairman of the company’s board of directors when they realized they needed a venture capital injection to continue production.
Elon was fresh off his experience with PayPal, where he ran away with a ridiculous $165 million payout after selling the company to eBay in 2002. The South African business genius apparently insisted immediately that the company use carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer for the cars’ bodies, and even though he appointed the company’s actual founder Martin Eberhard as CEO, Elon eventually took the reins more and more when it came to overseeing design.
Eventually, Musk’s increased involvement in the day-to-day of Tesla’s operations would lead to Eberhard leaving the company, and eventually to sue Musk for what essentially amounted to stealing his company… But we’re going to talk about that a little later. The true founders of Tesla are Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, not Elon Musk. And these guys founded Tesla a pretty long time ago, so long ago, in fact, that Tesla’s one of the oldest publicly listed automakers in all of the USA!
#2: 2nd Oldest in the USA
While the insane amount of hype around Tesla’s vehicles seems like a relatively new phenomenon, this company has actually been around for a whole lot longer than you might expect! In fact, out of all the publicly listed American automakers currently in business, Tesla is actually the second oldest, right behind the grandaddy of American car companies, Ford! But as you might expect, the age difference between these two companies is pretty big.
Ford went public back in 1956, even though the Ford family somehow was able to retain 40% of the company. Tesla went public a whole 54 years later in 2010 when Elon Musk made the decision to offer shares of the company at $17, making Tesla the first domestic automaker to have an IPO in over half a century. At the time, Tesla’s only offering was the Roadster that was selling for $109,000. And although Elon always said that his goal was to build mass production EVs for the common person, I don’t think anyone really expected Tesla’s would become as popular as they are now, and that those $17 shares would jump up in value to around $1,000 before their recent stock split.
But in terms of having the title of the 2nd oldest publicly traded American carmaker, Tesla doesn’t have a whole lot of competition. It’s basically just Ford, GM, which went public not long after Tesla in 2010, and Fiat Chrysler, which went public in 2014 bouncing back from bankruptcy in 2009. So, saying Tesla is the 2nd oldest is like me saying I’m the 2nd best looking guy named Joseph Sherwood, it’s not really impressive and it doesn’t really mean a whole lot. But, of course, that isn’t true, or at least my mom says so.
#3: Elon Dropped $54.5 Million
Part of the reason that Tesla has seen smashing success in recent years is that their fearless leader Elon Musk pretty clearly has undying devotion to the company. And that goes beyond his over-the-top antics as a Tesla spokesperson, both in person and with his restless Twitter fingers. Musk actually pumped a whopping $54.5 million dollars of his own cash into the company! That all started with his $6.5 million dollar contribution to the company back when they launched their first Series A funding campaign and Elon signed on as chairman.
Elon has been growing his ownership of Tesla ever since then, and he now owns around 20% of the company’s nearly $350 billion market cap. And while when Tesla was just a small name in the automotive space, people were definitely questioning Elon’s sanity for making an investment like that. But today, with Tesla being a smashing success and growing in popularity, he’s definitely silenced the haters, especially when you consider the guy’s stake in the company is worth over $50 billion right now.
#4: Laptop Powered
In Tesla’s quest to build cheap EVs that even your cousin who hasn’t had a job in years can afford, they’ve completely revolutionized what car batteries look like. The batteries used in Tesla models these days are commodity cylindrical cells that they’ve partnered with Panasonic to produce. Yeah, the same Panasonic that made the DVD-A100 in 1996, the world’s first DVD player!
For a while, Tesla was pretty much using off-the-shelf laptop batteries to power their super slick EVs. You heard me right! The Tesla Roster was powered by 6,831 rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, the exact same type of battery that is used in your laptop with that Ideal sticker on it! Oh, what? You don’t have an Ideal sticker on your laptop yet? Well, go get yourself one!
Anyway, while Musk and the boys are no longer throwing laptop batteries in their cars, their batteries are still cheap, small, cylindrical, and super similar to laptop batteries. And while that might sound like some seriously shoddy craftsmanship, it’s given Tesla a major competitive advantage over their competitors, because their battery packs cost less to produce than any other EV battery on the market.
Cars like the Nissan LEAF or the Chevy Bolt use much larger and more expensive battery cells than Teslas. The Model 3 apparently has around 3,000 tiny cells that are extremely cheap to produce. Not as cheap as those laptop batteries they threw in the Roadster, but as Elon Musk will tell you, that car was more of a barely-legal science experiment than the lightspeed-traveling sporty EV it was advertised as.
#5: Staggeringly Dumb Start
So, how did Tesla’s very first laptop battery-powered sports car, the Roadster, get received? Well, despite all their successes today with the Model 3 and Model S, the Roadster was undeniably a pretty lousy car, and the story of how they got it to the market can really only be described as a shitshow. Basically, before they unveiled this over-priced and over-hyped electric supercar, they went through the ringer trying to get it ready and approved for sale. Musk has even said that their original business plan for the Roadster “turned out to be staggeringly dumb”.
Essentially, the plan was to license drivetrain technology from a company called tesla model 3
AC Propulsion and slap it on a Lotus chassis. When it was all said and done, they only really used around 6 or 7 percent of the technology they paid AC Propulsion for, the Lotus platform had to be stretched to fit in the unbelievable amount of batteries, and once they stretched the platform, the crash test results that had been performed were anulled, so Tesla had to shell out a ton of cash to get another crash test for the modified chassis.
And, the final product suffered from all this madness. At the Roadster’s launch party, several of the vehicles that were there for test driving got completely destroyed by the end of the night. Apparently, these early Roadsters were completely unsafe and broke down all the time. And while the old Roadsters were undoubtedly a complete disaster, the newer ones that they began producing again in 2020 have gotten some pretty great reviews. I hope Elon’s a little more proud of Tesla’s efforts on the newer models. I know for a fact he’s proud of the Model X based on his Tweets about its capability to defend you from biological warfare.
#6: Chemical Warfare
Now, there’s definitely a lot of crazy advanced safety features out there these days, but perhaps the craziest is one that was put into the Tesla Model X, and probably could’ve only come out of the mind of Elon Musk. Forget the immediate threat of a highway collision or a even a fender bender backing out the driveway, Tesla accounted for those with active lane control, blind spot monitoring, and automatic emergency braking in the Model X. But, they also accounted for a different threat, attack from a bioweapon!
Starting in 2015, Tesla started putting HEPA air filters in Model X, which according to Musk himself, can protect you and your family from a deadly bioweapon. Musk took to Twitter to let the world know that these filters are “100 times more effective than premium automotive filters”. Other sources say the HEPA filters are more like 10 times better than other car filters, but forgive Elon’s flair for the dramatic. These filters are, in fact, extremely effective.
Apparently, one of them even saved a little girl from having an asthma attack in her family’s Model X. And, apparently, it’s also got an acid gas filter, an alkaline gas filter, and a carbon monoxide detector. I’m not even sure what acid gas is, but it sounds scary and I’m glad Tesla’s protecting people from it. But, the Model X isn’t the only sleek EV with superior protection that Tesla’s churning out. Another one of their models has some serious safety features to protect you from the extreme and unexpected.
If you’re considering taking your Tesla Model S through the heart of an active war zone, you might want to consider making a call to Armormax. This company works to design and assemble armored vehicles, and one of their latest projects has been hooking Model S’s up with opaque armored exterior panels and ballistic glass that’s all super lightweight and has very little effect on the Model S’s speed. No, you’re Model S will never be faster than a speeding bullet, but with these badass Armormax mods, it won’t have to be!
If you want to get your Model X armored, however, you might be out of luck. Currently, the only Tesla model that Amormax is modding is the Model S P100D, which is one of the quickest production cars ever made with 0 to 60 speeds under 3 seconds, even if you slap all that ballistic armor on it. But incredible cars like this high-speed electric military tank would’ve never been possible without the vision of Elon Musk, right? Well, there’s someone out there who might say something different about that.
Honorable Mention: Who’s Brand Is This?
We touched on it a bit at the beginning of this article, but apparently back in 2009, the true founder of Tesla Martin Eberhard filed a lawsuit against Elon Musk. In a lot of legal jargon that most of us don’t understand, it pretty much just seemed like he was accusing Musk of stealing his company and then forcing him out. Eberhard claimed that Elon made some moves that were… to put it casually… just not really that cool.
He said that Elon breached his employment contract when he forced him out of the company, that he denied him his severance pay after forcing him out of the Tesla boardroom, and that he slandered his name with public comments basically denying that Eberhard deserved any credit whatsoever for the success of the company he founded.
It seems like Elon hasn’t really gotten past this beef, considering as recently as 2019, he took to Twitter to comment, “Tesla is alive in spite of Eberhard, but he seeks credit constantly & fools give it him”. Seems like he should be able to let bygones be bygones, especially when he just recently pulled in almost $9 billion in Tesla stock options. Cheer up Elon, I think you’ll be alright.