A history of Tesla year by year

A History of Tesla Year by Year

Tesla Inc is a pioneering US-based automobile company founded in 2003. As of January 2021, the company has introduced four battery-run models to the global market, grown revenues to more than $25 billion, and seen its market capitalisation surge to more than $800 billion from around $1.7 billion on IPO in 2010. 

Read on for more on the key events that shaped the company's share price history. 

Tesla share price history

Take a look at the Tesla share price history, from its origins through to its share price boom.


Who was Tesla founded by?

Tesla was founded by US entrepreneurs Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning in 2003. With a background in engineering, the pair set out to shake up the world of electric automobiles and were joined soon after by PayPal founder Elon Musk, who became chairman. Since Tesla began its journey, Ian Wright and J.B Straubel have also been named as co-founders.


When did Tesla first raise money?

Tesla raised money in 2004 after Eberhart, Tarpenning and Musk began seeking venture capital in January of that year. In February, the team raised $7.5 million in a Series A funding round, of which Musk contributed $6.5 million. Other investors in the round were California-based SDL Ventures and Compass Technology Partners.


What were Tesla’s original goals and objectives?

Tesla’s goals and objectives were announced by Musk in 2006 as providing affordable electric vehicles to the mass market. Tesla outlined a plan to begin with a premium sports car and move into more mainstream vehicles such as affordable family cars - with all its ambitions congruent with a move towards a sustainable ‘solar electric economy’.


Martin Eberhard resigns from Tesla

In 2007 Martin Eberhard stepped down as the CEO of Tesla. He was replaced in the role on a temporary basis by Michael Marks, former CEO of electronics contract manufacturer Flextronics. Then, later in the year, Israeli engineer and semiconductor expert Ze'ev Drori took over as the permanent CEO, before resigning the following year to be replaced by Musk.


What was the first Tesla car?

The first Tesla car ever released was the Tesla Roadster in 2008, a fully-electric sports car modelled on the Lotus Elise and originally showcased as a prototype in 2006. Priced at $109,000, the car broke records by being the first all-electric lithium-ion powered car, as well as the first to have a range of 200 miles on a single charge.

Is Tesla on the verge of bankruptcy?

In November 2008, Tesla was down to $9 million in cash amidst the financial crisis – but announced board approval for $40 million in convertible debt financing. The move helped ward off the threat of bankruptcy following the company’s failure to complete a $100 million funding round the month prior, an event that forced Musk to cut 24% of the workforce and delay work on the Model S.


When did Tesla go public?

Tesla went public in June 2010, debuting on NASDAQ at a price of $17 a share, issuing some 13 million shares and raising more than $226 million in total. The transaction represented the first IPO of a US car company since Ford listed in 1956.


Tesla discontinues Roadster

Tesla discontinued the first-generation Roadster in January 2012 after four years of production. While being satisfied that the Roadster proved its electric credentials against traditional combustion engine competition, the company felt it was time to turn its attention to the upcoming Model S.

When did the Tesla Model S come out?

The Tesla Model S came out in June 2012, after the prototype was unveiled in 2009, and was the first sedan (saloon) released by the company. With prices starting at $57,400, the car’s notable features included 60kWh and 85kWh versions, a top speed of 130 miles per hour, a maximum range of 300 miles per charge, and the ability to do 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds in the Performance model. Tesla stock rose some 10% in the weeks after the release.

Tesla premiers Supercharger charging stations

In September 2012, Tesla unveiled its Supercharger network of charging stations, enabling Model S owners to enjoy super-fast charging throughout California, as well as parts of Nevada and Arizona. Over the following years Supercharger stations would multiply rapidly to more than 20,000 worldwide.


Tesla posts its first quarterly profit

For the first time in its history, Tesla posted a quarterly profit. In a shareholder letter released in April, the company revealed record sales of $562 million for Q1 2013, up 83% on the previous quarter, with a gross margin of 17% - double that of the prior quarter. Tesla stock rallied more than 13% on the news.


Tesla announces Nevada Gigafactory

In February 2014, it was revealed that Tesla’s Gigafactory, planned to be located just outside Sparks, Nevada, would produce enough lithium-ion battery packs to enable the company to ramp up production to 500,000 cars a year. Tesla’s projection for a 15 million square feet space would make the building’s footprint more than three times larger than New York’s Central Park.

Tesla open-sources its patents

In June 2014, Musk announced that Tesla’s patents had been removed ‘in the spirit of the open source movement’, making them free to use ‘in good faith’. In a blog post on the Tesla site, Musk observed that technology leadership is defined not by patents but the ‘ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers.


Tesla enters solar power market

April 2015 marked the announcement of Tesla’s entry into solar, with a consumer battery called the Powerwall. On sale for $3,500 and based on the company’s Model S batteries, it was revealed the solar-powered packs could be easily mounted to a home garage wall to recharge vehicles and act as an energy source for a home when the grid goes down.

Model X deliveries begin

Tesla began delivering the Model X, its mid-size luxury crossover, in September 2015. Based on the Model S, and with the prototype having been revealed in 2012, the company produced more than 13,000 units in the third quarter of 2015 at a consumer price point of $80,000.

Tesla rolls out Autopilot

In October 2015, Tesla enabled drivers of Model X and Model S vehicles to defer to autopilot and allow their car to take control of steering, braking, speed, and even lane changing in certain conditions. The technology was revealed to be guided by a combination of ultrasonic sensors monitoring traffic all around the vehicle, strategically placed cameras and GPS data, with Musk predicting a “profound experience’ for users.


Why did Tesla acquire Solar City?

June 2016 saw Tesla announce the acquisition of Solar City, a solar panel and solar roof tile developer and prominent industry player in the residential, commercial and industrial markets, as part of its wider mission to accelerate the world’s transition to solar energy. With the transaction, Tesla sought to create ‘the world's only vertically integrated sustainable energy company’. Tesla stock rose as much as 15% on the news.


Tesla Motors changes its name to Tesla, Inc

In February 2017, Tesla Motors became Tesla Inc, in a move designed to represent the company’s transition from solely electric cars and into the wider realm of sustainable energy.

Tesla unveils the Tesla Semi truck concept

November 2017 saw Musk introduce the Semi Truck concept, a Class 8 heavy-duty truck claimed to have a 500-mile range on one charge. At the time announcing a planned release for 2020, the truck was revealed to be able to maintain a speed of 65 mph going up a 5% grade. 


Tesla Autopilot crash

In March 2018, disaster struck when a Tesla driver on autopilot was killed after crashing into a roadside barrier in California, prompting shares to fall as much as 8%. In a statement the following week, the company said that vehicle logs in the car showed the driver had not responded to several visual and audible hands-on warnings prior to the accident.

Musk tweets about taking Tesla private

August 2018 saw Musk musing on Twitter about the possibility of taking Tesla private, with the entrepreneur claiming he had ‘funding secured’ at $420 a share.


When was the Tesla Model Y announced?

In March 2019, Tesla unveiled the Model Y, the carmaker’s new compact SUV, and the company’s fifth model overall, with a release set for 2020. With a range of 300 miles, seating for seven and the ability to do 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds, Musk described the release as having the ‘functionality of an SUV but the ride of a sports car’.

Tesla Cybertruck unveiled

The futuristic Tesla Cybertruck, the sixth Tesla model overall, was to be the first electric pickup in the roster at a $39,900 price point, with production slated to start in 2021. Tesla Chief Designer Franz Von Holzhausen stepped up to demonstrate the vehicle’s sturdiness, but while the model withstood an initial sledgehammer assault without incident, a metal ball pitched at the windows twice shattered the glass, prompting a shares selloff of 4%.


Musk criticises coronavirus restrictions

Musk drew headlines again in April 2020 as he called stay-at-home orders imposed during the coronavirus pandemic ‘fascist’.

Tesla starts production again at Fremont

In May 2020, Tesla announced that the company hoped to restart production at its US car plant in Fremont, California, with ‘limited operations’ after the coronavirus pandemic. The company intended to bring back around 30% of employees normally working on a shift.

Is Tesla in the S&P 500?

In December 2020, Tesla officially joined the S&P 500 with a weighing of 1.69% making the company the fifth-largest constituent of the 500 most highly-capitalized businesses in the US. In response, the stock fell 6.5% following the inclusion, as bullish investors in the lead up to the event cashed in, and news also surfaced of Apple’s electric vehicle plans. 

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