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Tesla’s Rise: From Roadster To Global Gigafactories

A look at Tesla's journey from its early days to becoming a global electric vehicle powerhouse.

Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) stock may be languishing currently, but it has generated mouth-watering returns over the years.

Landing First Factory Tesla was founded in 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, who named the company after Serbian-American physicist and inventor Nikola Tesla, a pioneer of the generation, transmission and use of alternating current electricity. As Tesla Motors embarked on manufacturing a high-end, low-volume sports car, investors, including current CEO Elon Musk, plowed in capital. Musk was named the chairman of the company, with Eberhard and Tarpenning serving as CEO and CFO, respectively.

Tesla, Inc. stock may be languishing currently, but it has generated mouth-watering returns over the years. SMITH COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES 

The Tesla Roadster was launched in 2007, and the first 11 Tesla Roadsters were produced at sports car manufacturer Lotus’ Hethel Plant in the U.K. Lotus then began shipping Gliders, which are vehicles without drivetrains, to the U.S. The cars were then electrified with the addition of drivetrains in Tesla’s rudimentary assembly facility in Menlo California.

The next year, Eberhard and Tarepenning left the company, leaving the reins in the hands of Musk, who assumed the CEO role. Musk took the company public in late June 2010. Tesla continued to produce the Roadster until 2012.

It took Tesla until late 2010 to set up its first proper factory at Fremont, California.

The Fremont factory has a history of its own. It first opened as General Motors’ assembly plant in 1962 and then operated as New United Motor Manufacturing, a joint venture between GM and Toyota, beginning in 1984. When GM declared bankruptcy in 2009, the joint venture folded, and Toyota agreed to sell the plant to Tesla in 2010 at a significantly discounted pricing of $42 million.

Tesla took over the plant on Oct. 19, 2010, and eight days later, Musk, along with then Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif), unveiled the company’s sign on the side of the factory. Tesla was awarded a $15 million tax credit, which was contingent on meeting certain investment and employment goals.

Manufacturing Footprint Grows: Fremont is the first facility dedicated exclusively to the mass production of electric vehicles. It is one of the largest manufacturing plants in the Golden State. The plant’s first retail delivery was a Model S EV in June 2012. The plant now produces other models, such as the Model X, Model 3 and Model Y vehicles.

Tesla subsequently added more manufacturing plants, giving it a diversified global presence. In 2016, the company added the Giga Nevada, which makes lithium-ion batteries, powerwalls and electric motors. A year later, the company gained another Gigafactory in Buffalo, New York, which came along with its acquisition of SolarCity.

The Giga Shanghai become functional in 2019, and now manufactures both Model 3 and Model Y EVs. In 2022, Tesla followed it up with gigafactories in Berlin and Texas. The company is currently building a gigafactory in Mexico. The Berlin factory produces Model Y electric crossover SUVs, while its Texas counterpart makes the Model Y and will manufacture the upcoming Cybertruck.

For the first nine months of the year, Tesla produced about 1.351 million EVs from all these plants combined. About half of the production comes from the Giga Shanghai plant, which is known to produce high-margin cars and serves as a hub that exports cars to the rest of Asia and Europe.

Tesla, Inc. stock may be languishing currently, but it has generated mouth-watering returns over the years. SMITH COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES 

Returns From Tesla: If an investor had made a hypothetical investment of $1,000 in Tesla stock ahead of the official unveiling of the Fremont factory, they would have 704.2 shares (taking the split-adjusted Oct. 26 closing price of $1.42). Tesla has split its shares twice: a 5-for-1 split in August 2020 and a 3-for-1 split in August 2022.

The 704.2 shares would be worth $145,986 (based on Friday’s closing price of $207.30), a return of roughly 1,450%.

Tesla ended Friday’s session up 0.75% at $207.30, according to Zenger News Pro data, and has added 68.3% for the year.

Produced in association with Benzinga

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