Tesla is an American electric vehicle and clean energy company based in Austin, Texas, United States. Tesla designs and manufactures electric cars, battery energy storage from home to grid-scale, solar panels and solar roof tiles, and related products and services. Tesla is one of the world's most valuable companies and remains the most valuable automaker in the world with a market cap of nearly $1 trillion. The company had the most sales of battery electric vehicles and plug-in electric vehicles, capturing 16% of the plug-in market (which includes plug-in hybrids) and 23% of the battery-electric (purely electric) market. Through its subsidiary Tesla Energy, the company develops and is a major installer of photovoltaic systems in the United States. Tesla Energy is also one of the largest global suppliers of battery energy storage systems, with 3 gigawatt-hours (GWh) installed in 2020.
Founded in July 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning as Tesla Motors, the company's name is a tribute to inventor and electrical engineer Nikola Tesla. In February 2004, via a US$6.5 million investment, X.com co-founder Elon Musk became the largest shareholder of the company and its chairman. He has served as CEO since 2008. According to Musk, the purpose of Tesla is to help expedite the move to sustainable transport and energy, obtained through electric vehicles and solar power. Tesla began production of its first car model, the Roadster, in 2009. This was followed by the Tesla Model S sedan in 2012, the Tesla Model X SUV in 2015, the Tesla Model 3 sedan in 2017, and the Tesla Model Y crossover in 2020. The Tesla Model 3 is the all-time best-selling plug-in electric car worldwide, and, in June 2021, became the first electric car website to sell 1 million units globally. Tesla's global vehicle sales were 499,550 units in 2020, a 35.8% increase over the previous year. In October 2021, Tesla's market capitalization reached US$1 trillion, the sixth company to do so in U.S. history.
Tesla has been the subject of several lawsuits and controversies arising from statements and acts of CEO Elon Musk and from allegations of creative accounting, whistleblower retaliation, worker rights violations, and unresolved and dangerous technical problems with their products. In September 2021, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ordered Tesla to submit data pertaining to all sold US vehicles equipped with Autopilot.
The company was incorporated as Tesla Motors, Inc. on July 1, 2003, by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning. Eberhard and Tarpenning served as CEO and CFO, respectively. Eberhard said he wanted to build "a car manufacturer that is also a technology company", with its core technologies as "the battery, the computer software, and the proprietary motor".
Ian Wright was Tesla's third employee, joining a few months later. In February 2004, the company raised $7.5 million in series A funding, including $6.5 million from Elon Musk, who had received $100 million from the sale of his interest in PayPal two years earlier. Musk became the chairman of the board of directors and the largest shareholder of Tesla. J. B. Straubel joined Tesla in May 2004 as Chief Technical Officer.
A lawsuit settlement agreed to by Eberhard and Tesla in September 2009 allows all five – Eberhard, Tarpenning, Wright, Musk, and Straubel – to call themselves co-founders.
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