Whether you’re a car aficionado or not, chances are you’ve heard of Tesla. Formed in 2003 and named after the inventor, Nikola Tesla; who designed the AC electric system, its first mission was to create an electric sports car.
Fast forward just a couple of years and the world knew the Tesla name. Famed for its fast, fun and luxurious all-electric vehicles, it’s the fastest-growing car brand in the world.
Nowadays, Tesla not only builds all-electric vehicles but has also turned its hand to clean energy generation and storage products.
With a few models under its belt, Tesla seems unstoppable. So where did the brand come from, what have they done so far and what’s next? Read on to find the full story.
A brief history of Tesla
Tesla Motors was formed in 2003 in California. It was the brainchild of Martin Erberhand, an electrical engineer, and Marc Tarpenning, a computer scientist. The pair wanted to create an eclectic car that was beautiful, functional and mainstream.
But they needed funding. Enter Elon Musk, a billionaire off the back of his sale of PayPal to eBay. Three years later, the Roadster was born.
The much-anticipated car could accelerate from 0-60mph in under 4 seconds and could travel 245 miles on a solitary battery charge. It was an instant success.
Unfortunately, the company started to be more known for its internal issues rather than its cars. Eberhard and Tarpenning left Tesla and promptly sued the company that was already falling into financial difficulty.
Musk took over as CEO and the story continued with the company going public in 2009.
What followed was the launch of the Model S – a critical success and much more affordable than the Roadster. Between 2013 and 2016, Tesla was producing in excess of 50,000 Model S cars annually.
However, the game-changer was the Model 3; the truly affordable luxury electric car in 2017. But the innovation didn’t end there.
Today, there’s a wide range of Tesla models to choose from; one orbiting the Earth after being sent up into space by Musk’s SpaceX, and a bright future ahead.
And while the electric market is small at the moment, it’s one that’s growing rapidly. Whether Tesla remains at the forefront is difficult to predict. But for now, at least, it’s without a doubt a leader in its field.
How is Tesla different?
Ever since Tesla brought its Roadster to the centre stage, other car companies have tried to follow. They’ve never quite caught up to Tesla’s cult-like status though.
Maybe it’s because Tesla is a pioneer in the field, but more likely it’s simply because Tesla is different. Their designs are unique and world-class, with more features than you shake a stick at.
It helps that Tesla design their cars around the electric motor, where many have to adapt a current design to accommodate electrification. Beyond that, Tesla is a tech company that makes cars, rather than a car company that incorporates tech.
They also have a great sense of fun. You only have to activate the virtual whoopee cushion feature in their models to realise that.
Tesla – it’s a whole new world with a whole new vocabulary. Here are some of the things that might crop up translated into plain English.
|AC||Alternating Current, a form of electricity supply. (Preferred abbreviation for air conditioning is HVAC)|
|AEB||Automatic Emergency Braking|
|AWD||All Wheel Drive|
|BEV||Battery Electric Vehicle|
|D||Signals the model has dual motors|
|HPWC||High Power Wall Charger|
|kWh||Kilo(1000) Watts for an hour and a measure of stored or consumed energy|
|LDW||Lane Departure Warning|
|NEDC||New European Driving Cycle|
|NoA||Navigate on Autopilot|
|OTA||Over the Air (for software updates)|
|PUP||Premium Upgrade Pack|
|RWD||Rear Wheel Drive|
|SAS||Standard Air Suspension|
|TACC||Traffic-Aware Cruise Control|
|TPMS||Tyre Pressure Monitoring System|
|Wh/Km||The number of watt-hours it takes to drive one kilometre|
Tesla car models
The Model S helped put the Tesla name on the map. Originally launched in 2012, it’s had a few updates since, and remains one of the best EVs out there.
Sleek looks, head-spinning technology and supreme performance all come together to create a four-door, five-seat saloon like no other. Even the base level is capable of hitting 0-60mph in a jaw-dropping 3.7 seconds.
Sporting a svelte figure, step inside to a cabin that’s futuristic and spacious dominated by a 17-inch infotainment screen that controls everything from climate to driving modes.
Light and airy, there’s plenty of room to get comfortable, and, if you can’t do that by yourself, the front seat adjusts electronically in 12 directions.
As there’s no engine, there’s a front boot (a ‘frunk) with 150-litre storage capacity, as well as the traditional boot which opens out to 1,645-litres by folding the rear seats down.
There are two options in the Tesla Model S Range – Long Range and Performance. The Long Range has a 375-mile range and top speed of 155mph.
The performance turns it up a notch with a top speed of 162mph and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it 0-60mph springtime of 2.4 seconds. The range does drop to 365 miles, however.
The Tesla Model 3 is, as promised, Tesla’s most affordable car.
The all-electric saloon is a good looking car inside with a eye-catching, head-turning silhouette.
A theme of Tesla cars, inside is minimalistic and futuristic with nothing bar a steering wheel and a huge central touchscreen.
This is the central hub of the car, where you can control and view communications, navigation, cabin functions and vehicle data with just a few taps.
A huge curved windscreen flows into the full-length panoramic sunroof. It’s an airy, spacious, clean car in all ways; mirroring its zero-emissions powertrain like no other.
And there’s enough room for five people. Like the Model S, the Model 3 also has a ‘frunk’ combined with the boot to offer up to 425 litres of space.
Easy to drive with precise handling and steering, it’s also mind-blowingly fast. While the entry-level Standard Range Plus model with its 180kW motor can get from 0-60mph in 5.3 seconds, the Model 3 with the optional two electric motor setup can do the same in 3.1 seconds.
Like all Tesla’s offerings, the Model 3 also comes with a whole suite of safety features and driver assistance aids, including Autopilot which enables the car to steer itself, change lanes and slow down.
Tesla reckons its all-electric Model X is the safest, fastest and most capable SUV in history. With all-wheel drive and battery options that can give you well over 300 miles of range, the Model X has ample seating for seven adults, and a little bit more.
The clever 2.5-tonne electric vehicle has been built with innovation through style in mind, which is highlighted beautifully by its electrically-operated ‘falcon wing’ rear doors.
As we’re used to with Tesla design, the interior is minimalist and dominated by a 17-inch touchscreen which controls nearly all the car’s functions, from the stereo to the suspension.
You can opt for a five, six or seven-seat Model X. Obviously, the more seats, the less room there is for storage in the boot.
However, even with the full complement of seven, it’s remarkably spacious. All the seats are comfortable and mounted individually, while the first two rows have electric adjustment.
Like every car in the Tesla range, the Model X is easy to drive, efficient and very, very fast.
If you’re thinking about a Model X you have two variants to choose from. There’s the Long Range with a 100kWh battery offering 348 miles, and the Model X Performance, which only gives you 306 miles but can do 0-60mph in 2.6 seconds – so it more than makes up for it.
Whichever you choose, though, there’s no denying that the Model X isn’t your run-of-the-mill SUV. Really, it’s a super-spacious, super-stylish supercar.
The newest member of the Tesla family is Model Y. It’s very much based on Model 3. In fact, up to two-thirds of its components have been mimicked from Model 3. So, in terms of interior design, there’s not a lot of difference aside from a larger panoramic roof and powered tailgate.
Model Y is wider and longer than the Model 3, though, which means taller, wider doors; better visibility and an even airier cabin.
Space is improved, particularly for those sitting in the back, and the boot also has a greater capacity.
There are two variations for Model Y – Standard Range and Long Range. For both, you can opt for seven seats rather than five.
The All-Wheel drive on both features two independent electric motors that digitally control torque to the front and rear wheels, giving more traction in poor weather conditions or rougher terrain.
According to Tesla, the Standard Range Model Y has an average range of 314 miles with a top speed of 135mph. It can also accelerate to 60mph in 4.8 seconds.
In the Performance, the range is just 298 miles. However, once again, that’s not what this car’s about. And a 0-60mph time of just 3.5 seconds to 60mph alongside a top speed of 150mph proves that.
What’s next for Tesla?
Using the past as a helpful guide, the future looks very bright for Tesla. And although some projects have been mooted, nothing’s ever set in stone.
So although we can’t say for sure what’s going to be rolling off the Tesla production line next, here’s what we think may be coming your way in the near future.
Due to be released in late 2021, the Cybertruck is as awesome as it sounds, with 500 miles of range and a towing capacity of over 14,000lbs.
And, if you’ve seen any pictures of it, you’ll know it looks like something straight out of a Batman film. We can’t wait for this to eventually land!
The Roadster 2.0
Elon Musk has confirmed that there will be a second-generation Roadster released at some point. Although, with little to go on, what it looks like and when it launches is anyone’s guess right now.
Don’t laugh. This is another model Musk has hinted at over the years – an electric semi-truck that could shuttle goods for corporations. Another ‘watch this space’. Let’s just hope they can get it up and over the line.