Tesla Motors is based in San Carlos, California, and is mainly sponsored by PayPal co-founder Elon Musk, as well as prominent figures from Google, Yahoo, and VantagePoint Venture Partners, among others. They’re named after physicist and electrical engineer Nikola Tesla, and their focus is on consumer-friendly, eco-friendly, battery and electric powered vehicles. Their personnel has shifted somewhat, mainly due to the financial crisis, but Tesla Motors is planning on staying strong with their current and planned model vehicles.

Their main production vehicle (and their first), the Tesla Roadster, is an all-electric vehicle with an estimated range (from the EPA) of 221 miles on one charge. The estimated cost of powering the vehicle is roughly two cents per mile, which makes it one of the cheapest cars on the road to drive.

It was the recipient of Time’s “Best Inventions 2006 – Transportation Invention” award, and demand for the vehicle (even with its $100,000+ price tag) is incredibly high. Tesla also plans to offer home roof-mounted photovoltaic systems to offset the vehicle’s home charger, which would allow up to 50 miles per day of travel, without burdening the power grid (in other words, it would be zero cents per mile travel cost).

Tesla also is working on other concept cars, most notably a sedan-style vehicle, which would compete directly with the BMW 5 Series and the Audi A6 – the estimated price of this vehicle would be around $60,000, and should be available starting in 2010 (but whether or not the company can have it available then is another matter). [Editor’s note: this vehicle is now available as the Tesla Model S] Tesla also plans on growing by “leaps and bounds” over the next few years, with sales climbing and service/repair centers planned for many major metropolitan areas over the coming years.

One of the many upsides for Tesla’s vehicles is the lack of maintenance, and their cars offer a system called “regenerative braking,” which makes brake repair almost non-existent, and due to its electric-based motor, there are not oil changes to speak of. However, transmission, cooling and brake fluid changes will be required, just like any gasoline-powered vehicles. Regenerative braking has now made its way into most electric and hybrid vehicles including the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt and the Toyota Prius.

Interview with Elon Musk


Unveiling of the Tesla Motors Roadster Transportation

Featured Article Footnotes

YouTube: Interview with Elon Musk

YouTube: Unveiling of the Tesla Motors Roadster