A History Of Innovation (and Headaches)

Table of Contents

Tesla has driven a long, potholed road to success.

Since its 2010 IPO, the famous (and occasionally infamous) auto manufacturer has enjoyed stratospheric highs, cratered to purgatorial lows and rumbled over everything in-between. Through its ups and downs, the company has broken records and brought electric vehicles into the mainstream.

Now, 18 years after its founding and 12 years after going public, Tesla is preparing for a fully-electric, fully-autonomous future. But the road here hasn’t been easy—and the journey isn’t over yet.

Let’s take a look at Tesla’s history by way of its major innovations.

July 1, 2003: Tesla Motors was born

Stock Price: Pre-IPO

Tesla was founded in July 2003 by a pair of engineers, Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, in San Carlos, California. Originally called Tesla Motors, the company was named after famous Serbian-American physicist Nikola Tesla.

At its founding, Eberhard claimed the title of CEO, while Tarpenning served as Tesla’s CFO. According to Eberhard, Tesla was to become “a car manufacturer that is also a technology company,” centered around crucial technologies like “the battery, the computer software and the proprietary motor.”

Their ultimate goal: to engineer and mass produce a 100% electric vehicle (EV) that refused to compromise on mileage or comfort.

2004: Elon Musk invested in Tesla Motors

Stock Price: Pre-IPO

Nowadays, it’s hard to separate the mercurial Elon Musk from Tesla’s image. But the famous entrepreneur didn’t join up with Tesla until 2004, when he contributed $6.5 million in initial funding. Musk’s contribution—and interest—compelled him to join Tesla’s Board of Directors as chairman.

2006: Tesla Motors secured major funding

Stock Price: Pre-IPO

The year 2006 was a busy one for Tesla.

After two years of strategizing and tinkering, Elon Musk spearheaded two new rounds of funding. Series B raised $13 million and added Valor Equity Partners to the funding team, previously composed of Musk, Compass Technology Partners and SDL Ventures.

A few months later, Musk co-led the Series C round, raking in $40 million from prominent figures like Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, JPMorgan Chase’s Bay Area Equity Fund and former eBay president Jeff Skoll.

Musk would later champion a fourth funding round in May 2007, bringing total private financing to $105 million.

July 19, 2006: The Roadster was revealed

Stock Price: Pre-IPO

Tesla revealed its first prototype in Santa Monica, California to an invitation-only crowd of 350 people. The original Tesla Roadster used a lithium-ion battery pack and boasted a driving range of nearly 250 miles.

Customers—including a few famous names like George Clooney—laid down $100,000 to secure one of the first units in production. The then-expected release date was sometime in 2007.

August 2, 2006: Tesla created its “Master Plan”

Stock Price: Pre-IPO

Two months later, Musk published “The Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan (Just Between You and Me).” The company’s long-term mission: “To help expedite the move from a mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric economy,” heralded by “a wide range of models, including affordably priced family cars.”

August 2007: Eberhard resigned

Stock Price: Pre-IPO

Tesla co-founder Martin Eberhard resigned as CEO at the request of the Board of Directors. He remained on the company’s advisory board and moved to the role of President of Technology for a short time. He was briefly succeeded by early Tesla investor Michael Marks.

November 2007: Ze’ev Drori took over

Stock Price: Pre-IPO

Marks didn’t last long in the role, stepping down just a few months later. At the end of November 2007, Israeli engineer Ze’ev Drori was tapped to helm Tesla. His primary task was to bring the already-delayed Roadster to market by Q1 2008.

January 2008: Out with the old CEO

Stock Price: Pre-IPO

In January 2008, former Tesla CEO and co-founder Martin Eberhard officially left the company. Co-founder Marc Tarpenning, who served first as CFO and then Vice President of Electrical Engineering, bowed out, as well. Eberhard would later file a lawsuit claiming he was forced out of the company.

In the same month, Tesla’s CEO let go of about 10% of the corporation’s staff after a company-wide performance review. According to Musk—whose investments in Tesla now totaled some $70 million—the automaker slashed staff to lower its burn rate.

February 1, 2008: The first Roadster hit the roads

Stock Price: Pre-IPO

The first working Tesla Roadster finally roared off the production line in February 2008, delivered to Elon Musk himself and credit of Ze’ev Drori’s leadership.

To celebrate, Musk led a train of prototype Roadsters down Highway 101 in Palo Alto, California. Following the successful road trip, Roadster production kicked in two months later, hailed as “a milestone for the company and a watershed for the new era of electric vehicles.”

However, the Roadster almost immediately encountered problems. At a price tag cresting $100,000, the vehicle’s lithium-ion battery could travel up to 244 miles on a single charge. But as the vehicle plugged directly into a standard wall outlet, a full charge required at least 24 hours.

October 2008: Musk took over

Stock Price: Pre-IPO

By October, Tesla was on the brink of buckling under the weight of the global financial crisis. Musk was promoted to CEO, while Drori stepped down to Vice Chairman briefly before leaving in December.

At the time, Musk said: “The global financial system has gone through the worst crisis since the Great Depression… Our goal as a company is to be cash-flow positive within six to nine months. To do so, we must continue to ramp up our production rate, improve Roadster contribution margin and reduce operating expenses.”

In line with these goals, one of Musk’s first acts as CEO was to fire 24% of Tesla’s staff.

November 2008: Tesla narrowly avoided bankruptcy

Stock Price: Pre-IPO

A month later, Tesla’s financial situation had reddened considerably. To restore Tesla’s potential and speed up production, Tesla’s board approved $40 million in convertible debts. Musk later commented: “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.”

2009: Tesla got its first lawsuit, plus a new prototype and a big investor

Stock Price: Pre-IPO

In 2009, Martin Eberhard, Tesla co-founder and former CEO, stepped back into the limelight when he sued Tesla and Elon Musk for libel and slander. He alleged that he’d been forced out of the company based on production delays and financial problems that were unfairly blamed on his leadership. Eberhard later dropped the suit.

But Tesla’s troubles weren’t over. Within months, Tesla issued its first safety recall for 345 Roadsters due to mechanical issues that affected driver control over the vehicles. A team of technicians was sent to each customer to personally address the issue.

March 26, 2009: Tesla welcomed the Model S sedan

Tesla unveiled its second car, the Model S sedan, in March 2009 at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California. Within two months, Tesla surpassed 1,000 reservations.

June 2009: Tesla received new funding

Stock Price: Pre-IPO

In June 2009, Tesla received $465 million in loans from the U.S. Department of Energy under the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program. (These loans were unrelated to stimulus from the ongoing financial crisis.)

The sudden influx flushed Tesla with enough cash to get off the ground, allowing it to finish engineering and producing the Model S to factory specs. The company also allocated some funding to develop its commercial powertrain technology.

Notably, Tesla would fully repay its loans in May 2013—including $12 million in interest—the first car company to do so.

August 2009: There was a glimmer of profitability

Stock Price: Pre-IPO

Tesla announced that it had achieved corporate profitability for the first time in July 2009, claiming $1 million out of $20 million in revenues. The turnaround occurred thanks to higher gross margins on the record 109 2010 Roadsters shipped in July.

September 2009: Tesla got (even more) funding

Stock Price: Pre-IPO

A month later, Tesla announced another funding round (this one worth $82.5 million) to enhance the corporation’s cash position and accelerate retail expansion. Daimler increased its holdings to maintain ownership.

January 29, 2010: Tesla Motors filed Form S-1 with the SEC

Stock Price: Pre-IPO

Tesla’s Form S-1 filing indicated the firm’s intentions to file an IPO, underwritten by financiers Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank Securities.

April 20, 2010: Daimler claimed 10%

Stock Price: Pre-IPO

In the year prior, Tesla and Daimler collaborated on a potential electric Smart car. (Daimler’s vehicle brands include Mercedes-Benz, Maybach and Smart.)

Then, in May 2009, Daimler invested in a 10% stake in Tesla, worth about $50 million. The investment shored up Tesla’s dwindling $10 million in cash and allowed the firm to push out the next set of pre-orders.

May 21, 2010: Tesla and Toyota partnered up

Stock Price: Pre-IPO

Tesla promoted a “strategic partnership” with Toyota, in which Toyota agreed to purchase $50 million in Tesla’s common stock issued in a private placement. This partnership would later produce the 2012 electric Toyota RAV4.

June 29, 2010: Tesla rang the opening bell

Stock Price: $1.59 (Historic prices have been adjusted to account for stock splits)

On June 29th, 2020, Tesla made another claim to fame, this time as the first automaker to go public in the U.S. since Ford in 1956. The Tesla team, including Musk, rang the Nasdaq’s opening bell to herald their new beginnings.

The IPO dropped 13.3 million shares at $17 apiece, netting the company an initial $226.1 million. Shares closed out the day at $23.89, valuing Tesla at $2.22 billion.

2011: Tesla welcomed the Model S beta

Stock Price: $1.58

The year 2011 was a comparatively slow year for Tesla. On October 2nd, Elon Musk unveiled the “near-production” prototype of the firm’s new Model S to nearly 3,000 early reservation holders. The vehicle claimed a travel distance of 320 miles per charge and could accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds.

Musk said at the event: “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.”

Arguably, the Model S represented Tesla’s first step toward an affordable, consumer-friendly electric vehicle. Though classed as a luxury sedan, the Model S shaved $25,000 off the Roadster’s price tag, coming in closer to $75,000.

2012: Tesla launched charging stations

In 2012, Tesla opened its first free-standing charging stations, the Superchargers, in California. These stations, which eventually numbered around 1,000 globally, offered free charge-ups to Tesla owners at a faster clip than regular wall outlets.

January 2012: Tesla ceased production of the Roadster

Stock Price: $1.87 (1st January)

Tesla said goodbye to its maiden model, the Tesla Roadster, early in 2012. In its brief, yet crucial, run, the car sold around 2,450 units.

February 16, 2012: Tesla unveiled the Model X SUV

Stock Price: $2.28

Just a month later, Musk revealed the first glimpse of the prototype Model X, Tesla’s first SUV. With falcon-wing doors, seating for seven and a total range of about 340 miles, it was the company’s most luxurious car yet. Tesla racked up $40 million in advanced sales and promised the first models would be delivered in 2014. However, a series of setbacks delayed production until later 2015.

June 22, 2012: Tesla delivered the first Model S

Stock Price: $2.25

In another major milestone, Tesla’s first Model S made its way to customers in mid-2012. The vehicle set a new standard for what EVs could be capable of—and was instantly catapulted to the heights of EV stardom.

Within a year, the Model S claimed the title of Motor Trend Car of the Year and topped Norway’s new car sales list, a first for EVs. The car would go on to become the best-selling plug-in EV globally in both 2015 and 2016.

May 8, 2013: Tesla turned its first profit

Stock Price: $3.72

On 8 May 2013, Tesla reported its first-ever quarterly profit. The next day, the stock opened 25.5% higher before peaking at 8.1% gains intraday.

2014: The first Autopilot was launched

Stock Price: $10.01 (1st January)

In 2014, Tesla debuted the first Autopilot system, an AI-based driver-assistance program built into the car’s software. By September that year, every new Tesla came equipped with “Hardware version 1” – i.e., the radar, camera, ultrasonic sensors and software required to support the upcoming program.

February 2014: Tesla expanded to Nevada

Stock Price: $11.81

In February, Tesla also announced plans to build an enormous battery factory, nicknamed “The Gigafactory.” In September, Tesla announced that it had chosen Sparks, Nevada for its prime location. The plant would become crucial for the company’s ability to start scaling as a consumer-facing brand, as opposed to a novelty car company for the elite.

April 30, 2015: Tesla revealed the Powerwall and Powerpack

Stock Price: $13.99

Tesla’s first big push into energy—aptly named “Tesla Energy”—kicked off with the reveal of the Powerpack and Powerwall. These solar energy-based products were described as “a suite of batteries for homes, businesses and utilities fostering a clean energy ecosystem and helping wean the world off fossil fuels.”

Musk harked these enormous batteries as “the missing piece” of Tesla’s business model, claiming that just 160 million units could power the U.S. end-to-end. The company followed up with a bold declaration that “Tesla is not just an automotive company, it’s an energy innovation company. Tesla energy is a critical step in this mission to enable zero-emission power generation.”

Within a week of unveiling, the automaker-cum-clean energy magnate’s pre-orders totaled $800 million.

September 29, 2015: Tesla delivered the first Model X

Stock Price: $16.44

Originally, Tesla aimed to launch its Model X no later than early 2014. But thanks to its highly specialized design and a multitude of production delays, the first delivery was pushed back to September 2015. Still, the Model X represented a welcome expansion to the company’s existing product line.

October 14, 2015: Tesla launched the Autopilot to customers

Stock Price: $15.99

Just two weeks later, Tesla began rolling out the software update that would become Tesla Autopilot. The early system offered features like centering the vehicle in its lane, assisted braking and traffic-aware acceleration. These features remain part-and-parcel of the modern iteration of Autopilot.

March 31, 2016: Tesla unveiled the mass-market Model 3

Stock Price: $15.32

March 31, 2016 was the day Elon Musk teased the long-awaited Model 3. He announced that the car would see 215 miles per charge and could accelerate from 0-60mph in under six seconds.

Tesla planned an affordable starting price of $35,000 to bring the vehicle within reach of a broader swath of consumers. The Model 3 was slated to enter high-volume production in early 2017.

But Musk also introduced a little controversy, declaring that Tesla would deliver 200,000 new vehicles in the second half of 2017. While Musk has long been renowned for his exuberant confidence, this was the beginning of Tesla’s entanglements with overhyped promises. (Tesla ultimately produced just one-quarter of Musk’s stated 200,000 goal.)

May 4, 2016: Musk made big plans

Stock Price: $14.84

Fueling the fire of overpromises, Musk surprises the market with yet another announcement that 2018 would see a half-million vehicles delivered, two years ahead of planned production targets. By 2020, Musk claims, Tesla will roll one million vehicles off production lines annually.

June 21, 2016: Tesla planned to buy Solar City

Stock Price: $14.64

Tesla’s $2.6 billion bid to acquire solar installation company SolarCity was notably controversial. The failing company, of which Elon Musk was the largest shareholder, boasted some $3 billion in debt…and was owned by Musk’s cousin. Unsurprisingly, many on Wall Street viewed the deal as an inter-family bailout.

July 20, 2016: Musk revealed the rest of “Master Plan, Part Deux”

Stock Price: $15.22

In July 2016, Musk revealed the second half of Tesla’s Master Plan, outlining four critical goals:

  • To develop “stunning” rooftop solar panels that seamlessly integrate with Tesla Energy
  • To roll out more affordable vehicles in “all major segments”
  • To advance Autopilot until it’s “ten times safer” than humans behind the wheel
  • To roll out a car-sharing program that allows Tesla owners to rent out vehicles

As of this writing, neither Tesla nor Musk has completed any of these goals en masse. (And some, not at all.)

August 2016: The Autopilot 8.0 debuted

Stock Price: $15.33

Autopilot Software Version 8.0 was the culmination of months of data gathering by beta testers and Tesla teams. The software upgraded the car’s navigation systems, offered 3D signal processing, and improved visual feedback and Autosteer response.

October 2016: Full self-driving vehicles were underway

Stock Price: $14.25

Two months later, Tesla upgraded the included hardware in their vehicles to officially move forward with new technologies beyond Autopilot 8.0.

The company announced that all new and upcoming models would come with Autopilot 2.0 hardware, including more cameras, additional sensor capabilities and an upgraded digital operating platform.

The latest new goal: Full Self-Driving (FSD) mode, which would allow drivers to let the car take over in select—and, hopefully, eventually all— conditions.

November 2016: Tesla went all in

Stock Price: $12.72

By November, Tesla (and Musk) were ready to take their next steps.

To start, Tesla closed its $2.6 billion all-stock deal with SolarCity. The move would spark a $13 billion lawsuit over claims that Musk used the deal to enrich his family. (An April 2022 ruling would decide in Musk’s favor.) The solar installation firm merged with Tesla’s existing battery energy storage division to fill out Tesla Energy.

Shortly thereafter, Tesla announced the acquisition of Grohmann Engineering, a German firm that specialized in designing manufacturing automation systems, to capitalize on what Musk described as “building the machine that makes the machine.”

2017: Tesla got a new name (and two new cars)

Stock Price: $14.47 (1st January)

In 2017, Tesla’s first philanthropic endeavors supplied solar power capabilities to disaster-torn areas. One of the biggest contributions included a solar plus storage system installed at a Puerto Rican hospital ravaged by Hurricane Maria. The company also donated $37.5 million to STEM education in Nevada.

February 2017: Out with the Motors, in with the Inc.

Stock Price: $16.62

In February 2017, Tesla dropped the “Motors” from its name to reflect the company’s ambitions for an electricity-based future. At the time of the name change, Tesla had already expanded from EVs into solar power generation and battery storage systems.

In the same month, Tesla pushed out new Autopilot upgrades that would convert the existing software into “Full Self Driving Mode.” Despite the name, Tesla’s FSD capabilities only qualify as Level 2 on the widely-accepted 1-5 scale.

Still, the newer Autopilot represented vast enhancements. Aside from the Autopilot’s standard Auto Steer and traffic-aware cruise control, FSD boasted Smart Summon (which allows vehicles to pull out of parking spots or meet owners at curbs), more comprehensive navigation, automatic lane changes and Autopark.

July 28, 2017: Tesla launched the Model 3

Stock Price: $22.34

In summer 2017, Tesla officially launched the Model 3, with the first units delivered to Musk and a group of Tesla employee buyers. Musk also announced over half a million reservations for the long-awaited electric sedan.

The successful transition from luxury liner to consumer staple was critical for Tesla to achieve much-needed growth and profitability. Until the Model 3, the company relied on a handful of units shipped each month—plus investor funding—to stay in business.

But what soon followed was described by Musk himself as “production hell,” spurred by an overreliance on factory robots that prevented vehicles from leaving the factory floor in a timely fashion. Eventually, Tesla pushed back its 5,000 unit per-week quota from December 2017 to Q1 2018, citing “production bottlenecks.”

November 16, 2017: Roadsters and Semis

Stock Price: $20.83

Later that year, Tesla took the next step into the world of electrified vehicles with the Semi truck concept.

The sleek, futuristic rig boasted a center-mounted seat and a promised range of 500 miles, or 400 miles on a 30-minute charge. In theory, the rig is estimated to save drivers at least $200,000 over a million miles in fuel alone, and may come with self-driving capabilities. As of writing, Semi production has been delayed until 2023.

Following the Semi’s unveiling, Musk teased another future product: the new and improved Tesla Roadster. Sporting an eye-watering price tag of $200,000, Tesla claims the car could hit 60mph in just 1.9 seconds. Like the Semi, the Roadster is expected to overcome production delays and hit the pavement in 2023.

January 3, 2018: Delayed production targets… again

Stock Price: $21.37

In early January, Tesla pushed back its production targets for the Model 3 yet again, this time predicting that its factories would ramp up in Q2. At the time, Tesla had produced just 2,400 cars in three months after overpromising at 5,000 units per week. Management claimed that supply chain issues required it to source parts willy-nilly around the world, preventing it from building and assembling parts in one place.

February 6, 2018: Tesla went to space

Stock Price: $22.26

In February 2018, Elon Musk’s SpaceX sent the Falcon Heavy on a test flight to Mars. Onboard, serving as a dummy payload, was “the silliest thing [Musk could] imagine:” his very own midnight cherry 2010 Tesla Roadster, “driven” by a mannequin in a spacesuit named Starman. The glovebox was stuffed with a towel, a reference to the book that accompanied it, a copy of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, while a handy sign informs potential spacefaring passersby “DON’T PANIC!” Car-mounted cameras transmitted live video back to mission control for over four hours during the early portion of the voyage.

April 3, 2018: Musk announced that Tesla doesn’t need more capital

Stock Price: $17.84

In less starry, but still substantial, news, Tesla announced in early April that the company did not anticipate requiring another capital infusion for the year. Shares surged as high as 6.9% in intraday trading.

May 3, 2018: Tesla shares slumped

Stock Price: $18.96

On May 2, 2018, Tesla posted narrower-than-expected losses in its quarterly report, with numbers that suggested the company was still burning through cash at exorbitant rates in an attempt to get ahead of its production goals. The stock, already down 5% following the report, plunged by an additional $2 billion after Musk refused to answer “Boring, bonehead questions” in what’s been described as an “epic” earnings call.

July 1, 2018: Tesla met Musk’s Herculean goal

Stock Price: $22.34

After months of waiting, pushing and a few outbursts a lá Musk, Tesla finally pushed over 5,000 Model 3 sedans in a week. Ten days later, Musk landed a deal to build a new auto plant in Shanghai – the first Chinese-based auto plant fully owned by outside interests.

August 1, 2018: Tesla reported its biggest-ever loss

Stock Price: $20.06

In August 2018, Tesla reported its biggest-ever loss as a company. Still, shares rose as Musk hyped up investors, claiming that the second half of 2018 would see positive cash flows and bigger profits. He also promised that Model 3 production would become more consistent, putting the company on track to regularly meeting its output goals.

August 7, 2018: Musk set Twitter (and Tesla’s stock) on fire

Stock Price: $25.30

August 7, 2018 beget the beginnings of Musk’s entanglements with the SEC.

On that day, Musk stunned investors, customers and the SEC alike by using Twitter to announce that “funding [was] secured” to take Tesla private at $420 a share. His remarks set off a trading frenzy as investors snapped up shares before the buyback, elevating Tesla’s stock 10% before trading was halted.

On August 13th, Musk revealed more details about his discussions to take Tesla private using Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, among other potential backers. However, he walked back his claims of guaranteed funding, suggesting that his financiers weren’t fully sold on the transaction.

September 2018: The SEC took a stance

Stock Price: $19.26

Days later, the SEC accused Musk of securities fraud, alleging he’d published false and misleading information that drove up Tesla’s stock price. Eventually, Tesla and Musk would settle with the SEC, with each paying a $20 million fine. Musk was required to step down from Tesla’s board, while Tesla agreed that company lawyers would approve any tweets containing “material information” about Tesla going forward.

In April 2022, a U.S. judge presiding over an investor lawsuit against Musk would determine that Elon Musk’s 2018 tweets were inaccurate and reckless, saying “there was nothing concrete” regarding Musk’s funding.

February 25, 2019: The SEC sought contempt

Stock Price: $19.92

In February 2019, the SEC filed for contempt against Elon Musk amid an ongoing investigation by the Department of Justice to determine whether Tesla misled investors about its Model 3 production capacity.

The motion resulted in an amendment of the original SEC-Tesla settlement after a judge found Tesla had failed to conduct any oversight of Musk’s Twitter account. Going forward, Tesla lawyers were tasked with monitoring Musk’s Twitter habits to prevent him tweeting any Tesla without prior approval.

March 3, 2019: Tesla unveiled the Model Y

Stock Price: $19.02

In March 2019, Tesla revealed its fourth vehicle: the Model Y, a midsize SUV that seats up to seven and boasts a 300 mile charge.

October 23, 2019: Tesla started production at its Shanghai factory

Stock Price: $16.98

In October, Tesla opened its first Gigafactory outside the United States – specifically, in Shanghai, China. The factory took just ten months to complete and propelled Tesla into the Chinese auto market. Moreover, with a second factory up and running, Tesla was finally able to ramp up production of the beleaguered Model 3.

November 21, 2019: Tesla unveiled the Cybertruck

Stock Price: $23.66

Just a few months after teasing the Model X, Tesla unveiled the Cybertruck. The angular 3-motor, 6-seater vehicle was projected to two up to 14,000 pounds, travel 500 miles on a single charge, and hit 60mph in just 2.9 seconds.

However, a demonstration intended to show the strength of the truck’s armored glass cracked it, while ever-ongoing production delays stalled its release date. While the Cybertruck was originally slated for a late 2021 release, its official date was pushed back to 2023. Still, Musk claimed that the Cybertruck received at least 250,000 pre-orders shortly after its unveiling.

January 10, 2020: Tesla broke a new record

Stock Price: $31.88

On 10 January 2020, Tesla topped $86 billion, breaking the record for the highest valuation of any American automaker in history.

March 2020: Tesla started delivering the Model Y

Stock Price: $49.57

In March 2020, Tesla began delivery of the Model Y SUV, the fifth Tesla model to hit roads.

June 10, 2020: Tesla’s market cap grew

Stock Price: $68.34

On this date, Tesla’s market valuation soared to $1,000 per share. The company’s valuation surged to $180 billion, surpassing Toyota and topping the value of BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen combined.

June 15, 2020: Tesla went long

Stock Price: $66.06

In June 2020, the Tesla Model S Long Range Plus was the first EV ever to receive a 400-mile range rating by the EPA due to its lower weight and maximized regenerative braking system. That represented a nearly 20% increase compared to the 2019 Model S with the same battery pack design.

July 2020: Tesla turned a profit for a full year

Stock Price: $106.16

After years of production mishaps and cash burn, Tesla finally announced that it had turned a profit for four consecutive quarters, its first run of sustained profitability ever. The feat teed its stock price to reach a $206 billion valuation, yet again surpassing Toyota to become the world’s most valuable automaker by market cap.

August 31, 2020: Tesla split 5-for-1

Stock Price: $166.11

On August 31, Tesla’s stock split 5-for-1 in an attempt to make its per-share price more attractive and affordable. The split brought its value down from an eye-watering $2,230 per share to a comparatively low $446.

October 2020: Tesla began FSD beta testing

Stock Price: $149.39

In October 2020, Tesla’s new Full Self-Driving software entered a new round of beta-testing, with the caveat that its software still required driver input. The software was released onto the Tesla network to learn from Tesla’s global fleet.

The full beta was released nearly a year later after months of tests, tweaks, and refinements, allowing all Tesla owners with an FSD-enabled system to turn on FSD features in beta mode.

December 21, 2020: Tesla hit a coveted milestone

Stock Price: $216.62

On December 21st, 2020, Tesla finally made it onto the S&P 500 after years of growth, production woes and trial and error.

December 31, 2020: Tesla hit yet another milestone (two years late)

Stock Price: $235.22

As of December 31st, 2020, Tesla officially delivered 499,550 vehicles in 2020 – just 450 vehicles shy of its 500,000-unit production goal for the year. This marked a time for celebration in the company, as Musk had announced a production goal of 500,000 as soon as 2018. Furthermore, the company ended the year with over $19 billion in cash, compared to just $6.3 billion at the end of 2019.

January 2021: Tesla splurged on crypto

Stock Price: $243.26

During the extreme market volatility of early 2021, Tesla hopped on the crypto craze with a $1.5 billion bitcoin purchase. The company initially announced plans to begin accepting the crypto as payment for vehicles. But a few scorching price fluctuations convinced the firm to back down.

A year later, Tesla cashed out $936 million of its position and trimmed its bitcoin portfolio by 75%.

June 2021: The first Model S Plaid delivered

Stock Price: $207.97

The Model S Plaid redesign was first revealed at a September 2020 event. In June 2021, the car hit the streets, claiming the title of Tesla’s faster, most powerful vehicle ever released.

August 19, 2021: Tesla had its first AI Day

Stock Price: $224.49

Last year, Tesla held its first “AI Day,” during which it unveiled the latest developments in software, hardware, AI, robotics, computing and self-driving cars. The event intended to attract the attention of potential candidates to assist in these projects. In particular, Tesla’s team covered Tesla Autopilot, training data generation, Project Dojo and the D1 chip, and the Tesla bot.

October 25, 2021: Tesla hit $1 trillion

Stock Price: $341.62

October 2021 saw Tesla’s shares blow past the $1,000 mark yet again. Its total valuation topped $1 trillion, becoming only the sixth U.S. company to do so alongside the likes of Apple and Microsoft. The surge followed news that car rental company Hertz had ordered 100,000 new Teslas for its rental fleet.

December 1, 2021: Tesla moved to Texas

Stock Price: $365.00

A few months after topping $1 trillion, Tesla officially moved its headquarters from Silicon Valley to its new Gigafactory in Austin, Texas over disputes with California officials about Covid-19 restrictions. Musk stated that Tesla would continue to operate its Fremont factory in the San Francisco Bay area and expand throughout California.

February 11, 2022: Tesla’s got hit with a racial bias lawsuit

Stock Price: $286.67

In February 2022, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued Tesla over claims of racism and harassment toward Black employees at its Fremont, California plant.

The lawsuit followed three years of investigation that resulted in claims that Black employees at the plant are “segregated to the lowest levels” and face racist language, harsher penalties, fewer career advancement opportunities and a lack of equal pay.

In August, a California state judge stated tentatively that he would likely deny any bids to dismiss the lawsuit. Tesla countersued in mid-September, claiming that the agency adopted “underground regulations” that allowed it to file the lawsuit without first notifying Tesla or giving the company a chance to settle.

The suit is still ongoing.

March 22, 2022: Tesla opened its third factory

Stock Price: $331.33

After months of delays and protests, Tesla finally opens its third car factory near Berlin, Germany. Tesla uses the factory to build Model Y SUVs for the European market, and has since begun expanding the factory to begin building batteries in the same location.

April 7, 2022: Tesla opened its fourth factory

Stock Price: $352.42

The next month, Tesla officially opened its fourth Gigafactory in Austin, Texas, marking the occasion with a “Cyber Rodeo.” The company currently makes Model Y vehicles there and plans to expand into Cybertruck production at this location in the future.

June 2022: Tesla cut 10% of salaried staff

Stock Price: $246.79

Amid the broader global economic downturn, Musk outlined plans to cut 10% of Tesla’s salaried staff. The move follows multiple other layoffs in the tech and related industries as the likes of Microsoft, Coinbase, Snapchat and other big firms slashed budgets (and workers) substantially.

August 2022: California accused Tesla of Autopilot misrepresentation

Stock Price: $297.28

In August 2022, California’s Department of Motor Vehicles complained to the state Office of Administrative Hearings that Tesla misled prospective customers with advertising that overstated how well its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving features work.

The complaint alleges that vehicles equipped with Autopilot and Full Self-Driving technology “could not at the time of those advertisements and cannot now operate as autonomous vehicles.”

The DMV is seeking remedies that could include suspending Tesla’s license to sell in California, as well as potential restitutions to drivers.

September 2022: Tesla hosts its annual AI Day

Stock Price: $287.81

This week, Tesla plans to host its Annual AI Day, complete with futuristic predictions and a little flair a lá Elon Musk. What, exactly, his vision of the future holds in store remains to be seen—and one can only imagine what it will actually bring.

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Nicole Lewis

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