Tesla brand name story

We will probably never know whether it was really Elon Musk alone who chose the name Tesla, or whether the founder’s Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning or other people were involved. Especially since Tesla was originally supposed to have a completely different name anyway.

From internal circles, it is rumored that the name “Faraday” was favored first, based on the inventor Michael Faraday (the one with the cage). However, competitors in their own country were faster with this name, so the idea was quickly rejected.

The genius inventor Nikola Tesla

However, the decision to name Tesla in memory of the brilliant inventor Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) was appropriate in several respects. Tesla, who came from what was then Austria-Hungary to Serbian parents and studied at Graz University of Technology, was not only a pioneering developer – whose inventions would go far beyond the scope of this column to list – he was also a visionary and bizarre personality who one cannot entirely deny certain similarities to Elon Musk. Many of Tesla’s ideas and projects would be described today as “disruptive”, such as his concept of alternating current, which made it possible for the first time to transmit electricity from Niagara Falls to Philadelphia.

Regardless of the good story, “Tesla” is a great brand name, short, internationally pronounceable, and easy to implement visually. The quality of the name is particularly evident when you compare it with the numerous e-mobility names of the competitors.

Tesla is accompanied by numerous trademark conflicts

But as so often in life, Elon Musk and his comrades-in-arms – similar to Faraday – were not the only ones and not the first with this idea. Numerous trademark conflicts accompanied the rise of the Tesla brand. The largest probably consisted of a traditional Czech electrical appliance brand of the same name. As is well known, with enough money you can end any trademark lawsuit. Tesla had more of these in 2010 than in 2003, the year it was founded, and was, therefore, able to come to an amicable agreement with the Czech brand.

No matter how the company develops, the brand has already achieved one thing after just a few years: if you used to think of the inventor when you heard the name Tesla, if you knew him at all, today most people think of electric cars first when they think of the hear the name, Tesla.


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