The History of Tesla and Look at Their Logo Design

This is the History of Tesla and Their Logo

Every so often, companies come along that are bold and innovative enough to disrupt an entire industry. When Ford first manufactured the Model T, it changed the transportation industry forever. Now, Tesla is a company looking to change the transportation industry again in just as dramatic a fashion by making electric, autonomous vehicles the go-to vehicle design of the future.

In its relatively short history, Tesla has experienced many moments of triumph and pitfalls along the way. Below, we’ll take a look at that history as well as the role that the Tesla logo has played in getting the company to where it is today.

The History of Tesla

Though the famous South African entrepreneur Elon Musk is now inseparable from the name “Tesla”, Musk wasn’t actually the one to first found the company.

Before Elon Musk became involved, Tesla was incorporated in July of 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning. The two men were inspired to start the company after GM recalled it EV1 electric cars, certain that they would be able to oversee the production of a functioning electric vehicle that would succeed where the EV1 had failed.

In 2004, Elon Musk joined Tesla as the chairman of its board of directors. Musk’s vision for the company was to start by producing a premium electric sports car that would be marketed toward wealthy, early adopters then move into producing more mainstream electric vehicles that would be geared toward the general market as soon as possible.

The first step in Tesla’s plan was the Tesla Roadster – a high-end electric sports car that Elon Musk was very involved in developing. After becoming the controlling investor of the company directly after its series A funding, Musk was afforded a lot of influence in regards to the decisions Tesla made and the path forward that the company took. Right from the start, Elon Musk made his vision for Tesla clear – to help solve the world’s energy crisis by creating high-quality, mass-market vehicles that didn’t rely on fossil fuels.

This vision along with the design of the Tesla Roadster earned Elon Musk the Global Green product design award in 2006 as well as the Index Award in 2007.

By 2007, though, Tesla was starting to burn through cash faster than the company could raise it and was forced to fire 10% of its workforce. When Elon Musk became the CEO of Tesla in 2008, he oversaw the firing of an additional 25% of the company’s workforce in an effort to slow down Tesla’s “burn rate” – the rate at which a not-yet-profitable company is burning through the cash that it has available.

Tesla’s burn rate got so out of control at one point that the automotive website “The Truth About Cars” launched a countdown timer called “Tesla Death Watch”, counting down how many days it would be before the company ran out of money and went bankrupt.

Through a combination of his own funds, profit from the cars that the company was selling, and various investors, though, Musk was able to save Tesla from ever running out of cash. In 2009, Tesla was given another lifeline by the Department of Energy, which loaned Tesla $465 million to continue working toward its vision of mass market vehicles that don’t rely on fossil fuels.

In 2010, Tesla took another meaningful step toward that vision by unveiling the Model S. With a price of over $72,000 the Tesla Model S was still a long way from the type of mass-market vehicles that the company was working toward, but it was definitely a step in the right direction given the Roadster’s $200,000 price tag.

Around the same time that Tesla unveiled the Model S, the company went public. Investors were optimistic about the future of Tesla given the company’s lofty goals, and the stock price soared. However, a number of setbacks ranging from vehicle fires to manufacturing issues have made for a bumpy road in Tesla’s stock price, causing the company’s value to rise and fall dramatically over the years.

Today, Elon Musk and Tesla still remain committed to their vision of  fossil-fuel-free transportation, working to increase the range and performance of their vehicles while also making them more affordable. In recent years, producing cars that will drive themselves has become another goal for Tesla, and the company remains heavily committed to creating the software and hardware necessary for Tesla cars to navigate on the roads without any input from the driver.

These, of course, are all incredibly ambitious goals that few companies are bold enough to pursue. But what role has the Tesla logo played in helping the company reach these goals, and what is its origin?

History of the Tesla Logo

The Tesla logo was designed by RO Studio – a design firm that has a longstanding relationship with Elon Musk. It was RO Studio that designed the logo for Musk’s other company, Space X, and after designing the Tesla logo, the firm also introduced Musk to Franz von Holzhausen, who went on to become the Chief Designer at Tesla.

Originally, the Tesla logo was made to fit inside a shield, emblem, but the company later ditched the shield and chose to just keep the “T” as their logo.

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Design Elements of the Tesla Logo


The Tesla logo features the letter “T” in a unique, futuristic-looking design. It’s a white logo set against a black background.

For a long time, people theorized that there was more to the Tesla logo’s design than a fancy “T”. The running theory was that the logo was made to look like a cross section of an electric motor that had been invented by the man Tesla was named after – Nikola Tesla. This was a theory that Tesla took a long time addressing, but one that was eventually confirmed in a Tweet by Elon Musk himself.

After a man named Peter James Dean Tweeted at Musk and asked, “Could you shed some light on what the Tesla logo represents please? So many theories out there, but no-one knows!”, Elon Musk replied, saying, “Similar to SpaceX, the T is like a cross section of an electric motor, just as the X is like a rocket trajectory.”

This Tweet confirmed the long-held theory about the Tesla logo and shined a light on its deeper meaning. Just as the name of the company pays tribute to Nikola Tesla – a man ahead of his time who sought the key to unlimited energy long before the energy crisis was on anyone else’s radar – so does the company’s logo.

Aside from this tribute to Nikola Tesla, there are several other key elements to the Tesla logo’s design. For one, the logo is meant to look futuristic – an important message given that Tesla’s eye on the future is huge part of the company’s mission and overall goals.

The Tesla logo is also meant to look luxurious and powerful – something that its black and white color scheme helps with. Keep in mind that before Tesla is able to sell cars to the mass market, a big part of their business plan is dependent on selling luxury vehicles to individuals who can afford any car on the market. Given the importance of this market segment to Tesla’s business goals, it was essential for them to develop a logo that conveyed a message of luxury and high-end quality.

By creating an edgy, futuristic, scientific-themed, and luxurious design for their logo, Tesla was able to communicate everything that defines their company through the logo’s design – the ultimate goal for most every logo.

Popularity of the Tesla Logo

There’s no denying that the Tesla logo has achieved its purpose. In spite of the fact that Tesla vehicles make up just a tiny fraction of the cars that are on the road today, the Tesla logo is still immediately recognizable. Anyone driving a Tesla car knows that the logo on their vehicle will be spotted and will be recognized as a symbol of status and prestige. Without Tesla’s now-famous logo, the prestige associated with owning a Tesla would certainly take a hit.

There’s also a good chance that Tesla was somewhat deliberate in taking a long time to unveil the true meaning of their logo design. Tesla operates within a realm of wonder and mystery, as people look to the company as a symbol for what the future might hold in store. Allowing people to speculate about the meaning of their logo would only serve to fuel this sense of wonder and mystery and help spark people’s interest in the company.

Overall, the Tesla logo remains both an easily recognizable symbol of the company as well as a symbol for the future of energy and transportation. Whether or not Tesla eventually accomplishes these goals is yet to be seen, but, for now, their logo is still a symbol of everything Tesla hopes to achieve. It’s a powerfully effective logo that has undoubtedly helped Tesla rise to level of recognition and success that they currently enjoy.