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Behind the Logo: The Origin of Tesla

Behind the Logo: The Origin of Tesla
Model 3 (Courtesy of Tesla)

Tesla Motors was created in 2003 and is a tribute to Nikola Tesla, an engineer known for his work on electricity. The brand is now closely linked to its current CEO Elon Musk and holds a prominent place in the electric car market. What does its logo mean exactly and what does it refer to? Here are a few answers about the origin of the Tesla brand.

Tesla Motors was founded in 2003 in California by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning in reference to Nikola Tesla, an American engineer of Serbian origin known for his work on electricity. He developed alternating current for the transport and distribution of electricity

The reason for this reference to electricity is that the new Tesla company was entering the still undeveloped market of electric vehicles. And it will later revolutionize the automotive industry.

The Roadster

In 2006, car manufacturer Tesla, still unknown to the general public, presented its first electric car, the Roadster. The Roadster managed to drive nearly 400 km on a single charge. Its electric motor was powered by lithium-ion cells that could be recharged from any plug. 

The first hand-assembled models would gradually emerge from the small Tesla factory a couple of years later. With a price of around $100,000, it was a very luxurious vehicle.

Elon Musk

It was at this time that the now famous Elon Musk, Pay Pal co-founder began to show interest in the car manufacturer and acquired shares in the company.  His objective was to accelerate production and make electric cars accessible to the greatest number of people. 

By doing this, Musk took up Tesla’s original idea of creating an electric motor and making it accessible to the masses by easing the transport of electricity. 

In 2007, Elon Musk became Tesla’s largest shareholder. Then, as the newly appointed CEO, he set the company on the road to innovation. 



In 2012, Tesla stopped producing the Roadster and launched its Model S. Then came the Models 3, X, and finally Y. Released in 2020, the Y crossover completes the “S3XY” lineup of Tesla Models.  Musk has the particularity of acronymizing his cars. The Models S, 3, X, and Y are meant to be read as “SEXY” but a dispute with car manufacturer Ford prevented him from naming his second car Model E and he had to pick 3 instead.

The Tesla logo represents the cross-section of an electric motor.

Other products are stylized to read as “CARS”: C for the Cybertruck, A for the All-Terrain Vehicle, R for the new version of the Roadster, and S for the Semi. 

Tesla is also expanding its network of Supercharger electric charging stations.

The Meaning of the Tesla Logo

The Tesla logo is more than just a T. It also represents the cross-section of an electric motor as seen in this visual. It was Elon Musk who revealed the origin of the logo on his Twitter account in 2017.

Originally, the “T” was affixed to a gray shield, a symbol of security. But Tesla decided to simplify the logo by removing it. The name of the company was also shortened. “Tesla Motors” is now simply “Tesla”.

Now you know the origin of Tesla, but do you know the origin of BMW? Click here to know more about this other car company.