How Tesla emerged from the brink of bankruptcy to become America’s coolest car company (TSLA)

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The company, known for its impressive electric cars, will now simply go by Tesla Inc.

While it may seem like a small change, the move marks a symbolic
shift for the company. For the last few years, Tesla has been pushing
beyond electric cars into new areas of business, specifically energy
storage and generation.

But Tesla’s journey to becoming this new company has not always been
easy. While the company has celebrated plenty of achievements, it has
also experienced its fair share of setbacks.

Here’s a breakdown of the company’s most defining moments since its founding.

July 2003: Tesla Motors was founded by a group of Silicon Valley engineers.

In this June 9, 2006, Martin Eberhard, co-founder of former CEO of Tesla Motors, poses next to an electric motor at Tesla headquarters in San Carlos, Calif.

In
this June 9, 2006, Martin Eberhard, co-founder of former CEO of Tesla
Motors, poses next to an electric motor at Tesla headquarters in San
Carlos, Calif.

(Paul Sakuma/ AP Photo)

While Tesla CEO Elon Musk has led Tesla for the majority of its existence, he wasn’t always at the helm of the company.

Tesla, which is named after the famous physicist Nikola Tesla, was incorporated in 2003 by two engineers, Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning. Other co-founders included JB Straubel, Ian Wright, and Elon Musk.

Musk led the company’s Series A funding round in 2004, but at the time he served as the company’s chairman.

Eberhard served as CEO until August 2007, at which time he was reportedly asked to leave the company.

On November 28, 2007 Ze’ev Drori, an Israeli engineer and businessman, was named CEO of the company.

August 2, 2006: Elon Musk reveals Tesla’s Master Plan.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk unveils his plans to colonize Mars during the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk unveils his plans to colonize Mars during the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara

(Thomson Reuters)

Musk has never been shy about his intentions for Tesla.

In 2006, Musk published a blog post entitled “The Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan (just between you and me)” in which he made it crystal clear that Tesla’s mission is to speed up the adoption of a “solar electric economy.”

“As
you know, the initial product of Tesla Motors is a high-performance
electric sports car called the Tesla Roadster,” Musk said.

“However,
some readers may not be aware of the fact that our long term plan is to
build a wide range of models, including affordably priced family cars.
This is because the overarching purpose of Tesla Motors (and the reason I
am funding the company) is to help expedite the move from a
mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric economy,
which I believe to be the primary, but not exclusive, sustainable
solution.”

November 28, 2007: Ze’ev Drori named CEO.

November 28, 2007: Ze'ev Drori named CEO.

November 28, 2007: Ze’ev Drori named CEO.

(Robert Galbraith/Reuters)

Tesla announced Drori would take the helm at Tesla at the end
of November. Drori officially took the reigns of the company on December
3, 2007.

Drori, an Israeli engineer and tech veteran, was
tasked with bringing Tesla’s first car, the Roadster to market by the
first quarter of 2008.

February 1, 2008: Tesla hands over keys of first production Roadster.

February 1, 2008: Tesla hands over keys of first production Roadster.

February 1, 2008: Tesla hands over keys of first production Roadster.

(Tesla)

Drori managed to bring the Roadster into production on
time and the first vehicle was delivered to Musk, who was serving as the
company’s chairman at the time.

To celebrate the occasion, Musk jumped in the Roadster (P1) and led four other prototype Roadsters packed with engineers down Highway 101 and University Avenue in Palo Alto, Calif.

March 17, 2008: The company begins regular production of Roadster.

Tesla Roadster

Tesla Roadster

(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

By mid-March, the company had met its goal of getting regular production of the Roadster up and running.

At the time, Drori referred to the event as a “milestone for the company and a watershed for the new era of electric vehicles.”

Tesla produced the Roadster, which priced at $109,000, until January 2012 and in total sold 2,450 Roadsters, according to a 2012 SEC filing.

October 15, 2008: Tesla delays the Model S and Musk steps in to become the CEO of the company.

October 15, 2008: Tesla delays the Model S and Musk steps in to become the CEO of the company.

October 15, 2008: Tesla delays the Model S and Musk steps in to become the CEO of the company.

(REUTERS/Noah Berger)

By October, Tesla was feeling pressures created by the financial crisis.

“The
global financial system has gone through the worst crisis since the
Great Depression, and the effects are only beginning to wind their way
through every facet of the economy. It’s not an understatement to say
that nearly every business will be impacted by what has unfolded in the
past weeks, and this is true for Silicon Valley as well,” Musk said at the time.

Musk
announced he would be taking over the company and that there would be
layoffs. He also pushed back the launch date of the Model S to mid-2011.
It was previously slated to go into production in 2010.

November 3, 2008: Tesla secures a $40 million financing commitment helping it avoid bankruptcy.

November 3, 2008: Tesla secures a $40 million financing commitment helping it avoid bankruptcy.

November 3, 2008: Tesla secures a $40 million financing commitment helping it avoid bankruptcy.

(Max Whittaker/Getty Images)

By November 2008, the company’s financial situation had worsened and Tesla was on the brink of bankruptcy.

To
help restore Tesla’s coffers and speed up the production of the Tesla
Roadster, the company’s board of directors approved $40 million in
convertible debt financing.

However, while the board approved the
deal in November, the documents for the financing round weren’t signed
until December 2009, putting Tesla in a perilous situation.

“Even
then, we only narrowly survived…We actually closed the financing
round on Christmas Eve 2008. It was the last hour of the last day that
it was possible,” Musk said during a Q&A at the Paris-Sorbonne University in December 2015.

March 26, 2009: Tesla unveils Model S prototype.

Elon Musk and Franz von Holzhausen at the Tesla Model S media launch in Hawthorne

Elon Musk and Franz von Holzhausen at the Tesla Model S media launch in Hawthorne

(Fred Prouser/Reuters)

Tesla unveiled its first electric sedan, the Model S, in March 2009 in Hawthorne, California at the SpaceX headquarters.

The first generation Model S had a range of more than 300 miles per charge and could go from 0 to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds.

By May 12, 2009, Tesla had already surpassed 1,000 reservations for the Model S.

May 19, 2009: Daimler takes a 10% stake in Tesla for $50 million.

Elon Musk and Daimler Board Member Thomas Weber talk about the deal on Fox Business news.

Elon Musk and Daimler Board Member Thomas Weber talk about the deal on Fox Business news.

(YouTube/Every Elon Musk Video)

The $40 million financing round helped get Tesla through its
darkest hour, but the company needed more resources to further develop
its battery technology.

Tesla and Daimler had already been in partnership for about a year working on an electric Smartcar. But by May, Daimler made a long-term bet on Tesla by taking a 10 percent stake in the company. The two companies agreed to work together on developing battery and electric drive systems.

“We
are looking forward to a strategic cooperation in a number of areas
including leveraging Daimler’s engineering, production, and supply chain
expertise. This will accelerate bringing our Tesla Model S to
production and ensure that it is a superlative vehicle on all levels,” Musk said at the time.

In June 2009, Tesla also received a $465 million loan from the Department of Energy, which it repaid in full by May 2013.

June 29, 2010: Tesla went public for $17 per share.

June 29, 2010: Tesla went public for $17 per share.

June 29, 2010: Tesla went public for $17 per share.

(REUTERS/Brendan McDermid)

Tesla offered 13.3 million shares at $17 per share. The company raised $226.1 million.

October 2, 2011: Elon Musk reveals Model S beta.

October 2, 2011: Elon Musk reveals Model S beta.

October 2, 2011: Elon Musk reveals Model S beta.

(REUTERS/Stephen Lam)

Tesla gave a glimpse of what it’s future car would be like
when it revealed a Model S prototype at an event in October at its
Fremont factory for about 3,000 reservation holders.

Musk revealed that the vehicle would get 320 miles per charge and go from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds.

“The
oil companies said electric cars can’t work, but the truth is, they
don’t want them to work. But here it is. They would say this car is the
equivalent of a unicorn. Well, tonight you had the opportunity to ride a
unicorn,” Musk said at the event.

February 9, 2012: The Model X prototype is revealed.

February 9, 2012: The Model X prototype is revealed.

February 9, 2012: The Model X prototype is revealed.

(Alex Davies / Business Insider)

Just a few months after the Model S reveal, Musk unveiled a prototype of the Model X, the company’s first crossover SUV.

The car’s most novel feature, of course, was its Falcon Wing doors.

The
Model X was very well received. By Feb. 14, 2012, the company had
amassed advance sales of more than $40 million. In fact, on Feb. 9, the
night reservations opened up, traffic on TeslaMotors.com increased
2,800%, the company said.

At
the time of its reveal, Tesla aimed to have the Model X in production
by 2014. However, it wouldn’t actually really enter production until the
end of 2015.

June 22, 2012: Tesla begins delivery of Model S.

Tesla Chief Executive Office Elon Musk celebrates at his company's factory in Fremont, California, June 22, 2012, as the car company began delivering its Model S electric sedan.

Tesla
Chief Executive Office Elon Musk celebrates at his company’s factory in
Fremont, California, June 22, 2012, as the car company began delivering
its Model S electric sedan.

(ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Tesla originally intended to deliver the Model S in 2011. However, the company didn’t begin deliveries until late mid-2012.

Tesla delivered the Model S to the first customers at an event at the Tesla factory in Freemont, California on June 22, 2012.

June 12, 2014: Tesla open-sources its patents.

June 12, 2014: Tesla open-sources its patents.

June 12, 2014: Tesla open-sources its patents.

(Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider)

Musk further demonstrated his commitment to advancing the
adoption of electric cars when he open-sourced Tesla’s patents in 2014.

At
the time, Musk said that Tesla would not take legal actions against
other companies who wanted to use the patents to create EVs.

“Tesla
Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport.
If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but
then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we
are acting in a manner contrary to that goal,” Musk said in a blog post.

“Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.”

September 4, 2014: Nevada is selected as the site of the company’s Gigafactory.

September 4, 2014: Nevada is selected as the site of the company's Gigafactory.

September 4, 2014: Nevada is selected as the site of the company’s Gigafactory.

(Tesla Motors)

Tesla announced its plans to build its giant battery factory, dubbed the Gigafactory, in February 2014 and it didn’t wait long before looking for somewhere to build it.

Tesla ultimately decided on a site in Storey, Nevada appropriately located along Electric Avenue.

The original site was 1,000 acres, but in June 2015 the company purchased an additional 1,864 acres of adjacent land.

According
to Tesla’s website, the giant factory will help it dramatically cut the
cost of its batteries by “using economies of scale, innovative
manufacturing, reduction of waste, and the simple optimization of
locating most manufacturing process under one roof.”

Once the
factory is fully operational by 2020, Tesla estimates the factory will
enable it to reduce its battery prices by about 30%.

The lowered cost of the batteries will enable the company to price its Model 3 at about $35,000.

October 9, 2014: Elon Musk unveils Tesla’s semi-autonomous self-driving system called Autopilot.

October 9, 2014: Elon Musk unveils Tesla's semi-autonomous self-driving system called Autopilot.

October 9, 2014: Elon Musk unveils Tesla’s semi-autonomous self-driving system called Autopilot.

(Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider)

At a company event in October, Musk revealed
a new dual motor option for the Model S and announced that all Tesla
vehicles produced beginning October 2014 were installed with Autopilot
hardware.

The system was composed of four parts: a
forward-looking radar, a camera with image recognition, and sonar
sensors that give the system a 360-degree view around the car.

Musk
said that some of the initial features included in the system would be
automatic cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and active emergency
braking.

April 30, 2015: Tesla reveals Powerwall, a giant rechargeable
battery for your home, and its Powerpack, a battery for commercial use.

Tesla's newest product "Powerwall" is unveiled on stage in Hawthorne, Calif., Thursday, April 30, 2015. Tesla CEO Elon Musk is trying to steer his electric car company's battery technology into homes and businesses as part of an elaborate plan to reshape the power grid with millions of small power plants made of solar panels on roofs and batteries in garages.

Tesla’s
newest product “Powerwall” is unveiled on stage in Hawthorne, Calif.,
Thursday, April 30, 2015. Tesla CEO Elon Musk is trying to steer his
electric car company’s battery technology into homes and businesses as
part of an elaborate plan to reshape the power grid with millions of
small power plants made of solar panels on roofs and batteries in
garages.

(AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

Tesla made a big push into energy when it unveiled the Powerpack and Powerwall at an event in Hawthorne, California in 2015.

Musk
said that batteries were the “missing piece” of Tesla’s business model
and claimed that 160 million Powerpacks could power the United States.

The company followed up in a statement on its website declaring that “Tesla is not just an automotive company it’s an energy innovation company.”

September 29, 2015: Model X deliveries begin.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks during an event to launch the new Tesla Model X Crossover SUV on September 29, 2015 in Fremont, California.

Tesla
CEO Elon Musk speaks during an event to launch the new Tesla Model X
Crossover SUV on September 29, 2015 in Fremont, California.

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Tesla had originally planned to launch its Model X Crossover
SUV in late 2013 or early 2014, but production delays forced the company
to push back deliveries by almost two years.

The vehicle’s
highly-specialized features, like its Falcon Wing doors and bioweapon
defense mode air-filtration system, made the car complicated to
manufacture on a mass scale.

In fact, during Tesla’s 2016 second-quarter earnings call, Musk emphasized just how dire the production situation had become.

“We were in production hell,” Musk said. “We climbed out of hell in June.”

October 14, 2015: Tesla begins rolling out Autopilot.

October 14, 2015: Tesla begins rolling out Autopilot.

October 14, 2015: Tesla begins rolling out Autopilot.

(YouTube/Tesla)

Tesla began rolling out its 7.0 software update in October, which ultimately activated Autopilot features in cars equipped with the hardware.

The feature initially enabled cars to drive themselves in certain conditions.

However,
in January 2016, the company rolled out its 7.1 software update which
gave Autopilot-equipped vehicles more features, including the ability to self-park.

March 31, 2016: Musk reveals the prototype of Tesla’s first mass-market car, the Model 3.

March 31, 2016: Musk reveals the prototype of Tesla's first mass-market car, the Model 3.

March 31, 2016: Musk reveals the prototype of Tesla’s first mass-market car, the Model 3.

(Tesla)

Musk finally unveiled the much-anticipated Model 3 during the first quarter of 2016.

While only a prototype, the car gave Tesla fans a good idea of what to expect with the production model.

Musk announced that the car would get 215 miles or more per charge and go from 0-60 mph in less than six seconds.

Tesla plans to launch the $35,000 car by the end of 2018.

May 7, 2016: The first fatal Autopilot accident occurs.

May 7, 2016: The first fatal Autopilot accident occurs.

May 7, 2016: The first fatal Autopilot accident occurs.

(National Transportation Safety Board)

The first fatal Autopilot accident occurred in May, but word didn’t get out about the incident until more than a month later.

On
June 30, government regulators revealed they were looking into a tie
between the fatal accident and Tesla’s semi-autonomous Autopilot
function. Tesla also issued a statement and Elon Musk shared his
condolences, calling the incident a “tragic loss.”

According to Tesla’s statement, the Model S was driving down a divided highway when a tractor trailer cut across the highway perpendicular to the vehicle.

“Neither
Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer
against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied. The high ride
height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and
the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to
pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the
windshield of the Model S,” Tesla said in its blog post.

June 21, 2016: Tesla announces plans to purchase Solar City for $2.6 billion.

June 21, 2016: Tesla announces plans to purchase Solar City for $2.6 billion.

June 21, 2016: Tesla announces plans to purchase Solar City for $2.6 billion.

(AP)

Tesla took everyone by surprise in June when the company made a
$2.6 billion bid to acquire SolarCity, a solar installation company run
by Musk’s cousin.

Not surprisingly, the deal was controversial from the start, primarily because SolarCity was about $3 billion in debt and the deal was seen as a bailout.

Further complicating the matter, Musk was also the chairman of the company.

July 20, 2016: Elon Musk reveals Tesla Masterplan Part Deux.

July 20, 2016: Elon Musk reveals Tesla Masterplan Part Deux.

July 20, 2016: Elon Musk reveals Tesla Masterplan Part Deux.

(Reuters)

In July, Musk finally revealed the second part of his company’s “master plan,” a plan which focuses on four key goals:

1. Develop “stunning” solar roofs that seamlessly integrate with Tesla’s battery storage.

2. Roll out more affordable vehicles “to address all major segments.”

3. Advance its self-driving technology so that it is “ten times safer” than manual driving.

4. Roll out a car sharing program that enables Tesla owners to make money by renting out their autonomous car.

Musk’s plans for an autonomous “shared-fleet” program were especially interesting.

Musk
said that Tesla owners will be able to add their vehicle to the shared
fleet and start making money by simply tapping a button on their Tesla
phone app.

“It generate income for you while you’re at work or
on vacation, significantly offsetting and at times potentially exceeding
the monthly loan or lease cost,” Musk said in a company blog post.
“This dramatically lowers the true cost of ownership to the point where
almost anyone could own a Tesla.”

Nov. 8, 2016: Tesla buys a German engineering company to help it push further into automation.

Nov. 8, 2016: Tesla buys a German engineering company to help it push further into automation.

Nov. 8, 2016: Tesla buys a German engineering company to help it push further into automation.

(YouTube/iPhone-Fan)

Musk made it clear in early 2016 that automation was the future for Tesla.

During
a shareholder meeting in June, Musk said that he saw a huge opportunity
in “building the machine that makes the machine.”

Musk reiterated these comments in September during an interview with Y Combinator’s Sam Altman.

“The
biggest epiphany I’ve had this year is that what really matters is the
machine that builds the machine, the factory,” he said. “And that this
is at least two orders of magnitude harder than the vehicle itself.”

So it wasn’t all that surprising when Tesla announced it was buying Grohmann Engineering, a German engineering firm that specializes in designing systems for manufacturing automation.

November 21, 2016: Tesla officially gets into the solar business.

Elon Musk, Chairman of SolarCity and CEO of Tesla Motors, speaks at SolarCityÕs Inside Energy Summit in Midtown, New York

Elon Musk, Chairman of SolarCity and CEO of Tesla Motors, speaks at SolarCityÕs Inside Energy Summit in Midtown, New York

(Thomson Reuters)

After months of criticism, Tesla was finally able to close its deal with SolarCity in November.

Both
SolarCity and Tesla had a special meeting for shareholders to vote on
the deal and according to a statement from Tesla, more than 85% of its
shareholders voted in favor of the merger.

Both Musk and Rive recused themselves from the vote.

The deal was worth about $2 billion and Tesla absorbed SolarCity’s $3 billion in debt.

January 19, 2017: The federal government finds no defect with Tesla Autopilot.

January 19, 2017: The federal government finds no defect with Tesla Autopilot.

January 19, 2017: The federal government finds no defect with Tesla Autopilot.

(Tesla)

After a six-month investigation, Tesla could finally let out a sigh of relief.

In January 2017, federal regulators closed their investigation into the first Autopilot fatality and said that they had found no defects with the system.

February 1, 2017: Tesla officially changes its name.

February 1, 2017: Tesla officially changes its name.

February 1, 2017: Tesla officially changes its name.

(AP)

Tesla may have officially changed its name earlier this week, but its new identity had actually been in the works for a while.

In February 2016, CEO Elon Musk tweeted about acquiring the domain. And in July the company shortened its website from teslamotors.com to just Tesla.com.

But
on Wednesday the company said in a filing with the SEC that the company
was officially changing its corporate title to just Tesla Inc, bringing
the company into a new era of being an energy company.

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