Tesla turns twenty. Founded in July 2003 in California, the American car manufacturer was the first to market a production electric car powered by lithium-ion batteries: it was the Roadster with a range of 340 kilometers based on the British sports car Lotus Elise. Elon Musk was one of the financiers of the first hour of Tesla, made up of two Americans who have Berkeley in common: Martin Eberhard, class of ’60, was born there, Marc Tarpening (1964) graduated there. The visionary South African manager (he was born in Pretoria) became CEO in October 2008, on the occasion of its first five-year life and seven months after the start of sales of the first zero-emission model.
The start is creepy: already at the end of the year, the manufacturer risks bankruptcy and is saved first by the intervention of Dibalog and then, in 2009, by the entry of Daimler. The European offensive begins in London in June of the same year, twelve months before the debut on the Stock Exchange. Meanwhile Musk dreams and promises: motorists and investors believe him. Snubbed not only in the Old Continent for his amazing plans, Musk has to deal with repeated production problems, even if the deliveries of the Model S begin in June 2012. Shortly after, the installation of the first Superchargers begins, thanks to which Tesla (the name is a tribute to the surname of the Slavic inventor, born in present-day Croatia, whose first name was later used by a rival company, Nikola) ensures free “lifetime” energy supply to first customers.
The assembly of the first machines for the Old Continent was completed in the Netherlands starting in August 2013. In the autumn of 2015, the Model X first made its debut and then, on the Model S, an autonomous driving system, another of the Musk’s “visions”. Who introduces a completely different way of communicating compared to other top managers, “chirping” directly with his “tribe” and also beginning to irritate the American stock market authorities. In 2016, the first Gigafactory was inaugurated in the state of Nevada. Those in Buffalo, also in the United States, Shanghai in China (the laying of the first stone dates back to January 2019) and Grünheide in Germany (2022) will follow. The last two are those in Austin, Texas, where Musk had also decided to transfer the headquarters in open controversy over the management of the pandemic with the Californian authorities, and the future one in Santa Catarina, Mexico, the construction of which was announced on 28 February of this year by the president of the nation himself, Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
In mid-2017, the Model 3 arrives, the cheapest of the Teslas, the one for which the manufacturer had collected record bookings, even 300,000 in the first weekend, but whose production had gone very slowly, making customers not a little annoyed. With the angular Cybertruck pick-up, Musk achieved an even more surprising success: 1.5 million pre-orders, so much so that the company was forced to limit its initial availability to North America. Driven by the dieselgate, which has brought down European diesel technology, Tesla takes off. In March 2020 the first Model Ys were delivered in the United States and in June the stock reached its highest on the stock market. The pandemic also makes the balance sheets of the American house fly, which in January 2021 announces profits for the previous year of 595 million euros: it is the first time that Tesla has closed in the black.
Thanks to Tesla’s stellar quotations, Musk becomes the richest man in the world with an estimated fortune of 320 billion dollars. His work rhythms are almost legendary, as are his provocations and side businesses ranging from Space X to The Boring Company to Neuralink. Musk intrigues with his flamethrower sold in over 7,000 copies and, among other things, with the Teslaquila. Then he decides to buy Twitter and, not only for that, but also for that, he loses almost 200 billion in just over a year, costing him the title of richest man in the world: Guinness stuff.
Tesla reports sales of more than 1.3 million units in 2022, an increase of 40%. In the United States it is already number one among the premium brands and at the end of 2023 it could break through the 2 million threshold, ie on the levels of German houses: a new shock in the car world, already shaken by the advent of Chinese manufacturers.