Tesla’s Journey: From IPO to Passing Ford in Value, in Just 7 Years. Part 2 of 3.
Updated: Aug 14, 2018
In Tesla’s final years as a private company, things got pretty hectic.
As shown in Part 1: Tesla’s Origin Story, the launch of the Roadster was a public relations success, but it created all kinds of problems internally. There were massive cost overruns, a revolving door of CEOs, layoffs, and even a narrow escape from bankruptcy.
Fortunately, by 2010 the company was able to forget these troubles after a successful IPO. The company secured $226 million in capital, and hitting the public markets started a roller coaster ride of growth.
RISE OF TESLA: THE COMPANY (PART 2 OF 3)
Part 2 shows major events from 2010 until today, and it tracks the company’s rapid growth along the way.
Tesla was the first American car company to IPO since The Ford Motor Company went public in 1956.
Interestingly, it only took seven years for Tesla to match Ford’s value – here are the major events during this stretch of time that made this incredible feat possible.
After securing funding from the public markets, Tesla was positioned for its next big leap:
The company had just narrowly escaped bankruptcy
The Tesla Roadster helped to dispel the stigma around EVs, but it was unclear if it could be parlayed into mainstream success
The company was free from its feud and lawsuit with co-founder Martin Eberhard
Tesla had just taken over its now famous factory in Fremont, CA
It was time to focus on the next phase of Tesla’s strategy: to build the company’s first real car from scratch – and to help the company achieve the economies of scale, impact, and reputation it desired.
In 2011, Tesla announces that the Roadster will be officially discontinued.
Instead, the company starts focusing all efforts on two new EVs: the Model S (A full-size luxury car) and the Model X (A full-size luxury crossover SUV).
The Model S was Tesla’s chance to build a car around the electric powertrain, rather than the other way around.
When we started Model S, it was a clean sheet of paper.
– Franz Von Holzhausen, Chief Car Designer
In June 2012, the first Model S hits the road – and the rest is history. The model won multiple awards, including being recognized as the “safest car ever tested” by the NHTSA and the “Best car ever tested” by Consumer Reports. Over 200,000 cars were eventually sold.
But despite the success of the new model, Tesla still faced a giant problem. Lithium-ion batteries were still too expensive for a mass market car to be feasible, and the company needed to “bet the farm” on an idea to bring EVs to the mainstream.
Tesla reveals initial plans for its Gigafactory concept, an ambitious attempt to bring economies of scale to the battery industry.
In time, the details of those plans solidified:
Cost: $5 billion
Objective: To reduce the cost of lithium-ion battery packs by 30%
Location: Sparks, Nevada
Size: Up to 5.8 million sq. ft (100 football fields)
The company believed that through economies of scale, reduction of waste, a closer supply chain, vertical integration, and process optimization, that the cost of batteries could be sufficiently reduced to make a mass market EV possible.
Under Tesla’s first plan, the Gigafactory would be ramped up to produce batteries for 500,000 EVs per year by 2020. Later on, the company eventually moved that target forward by two years.
Tesla makes significant advances in software, hardware, and its mission.
Autopilot is released for the first time, which gives the Model S semi-autonomous driving and parking capabilities
By this time, Tesla’s Supercharger network is up to 221 stations around the world
Tesla goes open source, releasing all of the company’s patents for anyone to use
After massive and repeated delays because of issues with the “falcon wing” doors, the Model X finally is released.
In the same year, the Tesla Powerwall is also announced. Using a high-capacity lithium-ion battery and proprietary technology – the Powerwall is a major step towards Tesla achieving its major end goal of integrating energy generation and storage in the home.
Tesla unveils its Model 3 – the car for the masses that is supposed to change it all.
Here are the specs for the most basic model, which is available at $35,000:
Torque: 415 lb-ft
Power: 235 hp (Motor Trend’s est.)
0-60 mph: 5.6 seconds
Top speed: 130 mph
Range: 220 miles
After being announced, the Model 3 quickly garnered 500,000 pre-orders. To put the magnitude of this number in perspective – in six years of production of the Model S, the company has only delivered about 200,000 cars in total so far.
In 2016, Tesla also announces that it is taking over of Elon Musk’s other companies, SolarCity, for $2.6 billion of stock. Elon Musk owns 22% of SolarCity shares at the time of the takeover.
The goal: to build a seamlessly integrated battery and solar product that looks beautiful.
2017 was a whirlwind year for Tesla:
Consumer Reports names Tesla the top American car brand in 2017
The Tesla Gigafactory I begins battery cell production
Tesla wins bids to provide grid-scale battery power in South Australia and Puerto Rico
Tesla starts accepting orders for its new solar roof product
The Tesla Semi is unveiled – a semi-truck that can go 0-60 mph in just 5 seconds, which is 3x faster than a diesel truck
Model 3 deliveries begin, though production issues keep them from ramping at the speed anticipated
Tesla also unveils the new Roadster – the second-gen version of the car that started it all.
This time, it has unbelievable specs:
0-60 mph: 1.9 seconds
200 kWh battery pack
Top speed: above 250 mph
620 mile range (It could drive from San Francisco to LA and back, without needing a recharge)
The point of doing this is to give a hardcore smackdown to gasoline cars
– Elon Musk, Tesla Co-Founder and CEO
The new Roadster will go into production in 2020.
A LOOK TO THE FUTURE
In 1956, the IPO of the Ford Motor Company was the single largest IPO in Wall Street’s history.
Tesla IPO’d a whopping 54 years later, and the company has already passed Ford in value:
Ford: $49.9B Tesla: $52.3B (numbers from Dec 31, 2017)
An incredible feat, it took only seven years for Tesla to pass Ford in value on the public markets. However, this is still the beginning of Tesla’s story.
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Oakmount and Partners Ltd. Est 2009.
Sculpted from experience, built for success.
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