Named after a legend, backed by a billionaire. What could go wrong?
Soon after Tesla was founded, it received heavy investment from Elon Musk, co-founder of PayPal and Space X. Musk has since become Tesla’s CEO and its Chief Product Architect. It’s very much due to him that the company has attracted billions in investment for its R&D and production facilities. But the company’s vision hasn’t actually been to make money in the near term, but rather to save the world from oil-driven cars.
Musk always said that a mass-market car would be an impossible first step. So the first product was a low-investment, high-priced sports car, the Roadster, built with the co-operation of Lotus.
Some 2,400 Roadsters were made, from 2008. Sales helped to finance the Model S saloon, sold from 2012. This has been a huge success, its sales running at an annualised rate of about 60,000. Tesla soon added a crossover version, the Model X, notable for its extraordinary ‘falcon wing’ upwards-opening rear doors.
With the huge early interest in the Model 3, Tesla now says it’s planning to get to an output of 500,000 cars a year by 2018 – more than Land Rover and Range Rover combined.