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Five facts about Tesla, electric cars that may surprise you

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By John Voelcker

Tesla always tops the charts.

Coverage of the feisty startup electric-car maker from Silicon Valley attracts huge attention any time it appears.

Discussion boards, forums, videos, comment sections, and investment blogs overflow with opinions, analysis, and utterly confident (and wildly differing) pronouncements about what will happen to Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA} and its Model S electric luxury sedan.

But we've put together a few facts that even diehard Tesla fans may not have known.

Test yourself to see how many you knew.

1) Elon Musk did not start Tesla

The company was founded by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, although current CEO Elon Musk led the first investment round in February 2004. At that point, he joined the company's board of directors as Chairman.

In May 2009, Eberhard sued Musk for libel and slander, among other grounds. The suit was settled out of court four months later.

2) Tesla Motors is more than 10 years old

The company was incorporated in July 2003, but remained in stealth mode until July 2006, when it revealed the Roadster, its first production car.

Only 2,500 models of the two-seat electric sports car were built; it went on sale in limited numbers late in 2008, and production ended late in 2011.

3) Tesla is already worth more than Fiat and three different Japanese car companies

The company's market capitalization as of this morning ($20.9 billion) exceeds that of Mitsubishi, the perennially struggling Japanese maker, and those of Suzuki and Isuzu, both of which have withdrawn from the U.S. market altogether.

Tesla is also worth more than Fiat ($7.5 billion), which controls Chrysler but doesn't yet own it all.

Whether Tesla is overvalued or undervalued remains a topic for passionate, lengthy, intense, vocal, highly opinionated discussion on many, many sites.

4) Only six parts on a Tesla Model S need regular replacement

They're the four tires and the two wiper blades. Oh, and service technicians do check the level of the battery and motor coolant occasionally.

Brake pads? Not so much. With the bulk of its stopping done via regenerative braking--turning the electric motor into a generator to recharge the battery pack--the brakes pads on a Tesla last a ridiculously long time.

Without valves, camshafts, connecting rods, a crankshaft, gears, clutches, or any of the other complexities of a car with an engine and a transmission, a battery-electric car needs almost no service.

That worries car mechanics, a lot.

5) To make automotive history, Tesla must build 800,000 cars

The company has already beaten Delorean (which built 9,000 cars), Bricklin (2,850), and Tucker (a mere 51) among notable automotive startups of the past half-century. At its current rate, it will have more than 26,000 cars on the world's roads by December 31.

But there's one other startup carmaker it still has to conquer: Kaiser-Frazer, founded just after World War II by famed industrialist Henry J. Kaiser. In its decade of existence, Kaiser built roughly 770,000 cars (and ended up owning Jeep).

It was December 1924 when Walter P. Chrysler founded the company that carried his name; it was the last auto brand founded from scratch in the U.S. by an entrepreneur that's still with us.

If Tesla can exceed Kaiser's total--perhaps by 2020 or so--it will become the highest-production automotive startup in 90 years.

If you want a lot more "amazing facts" about Tesla--and you're a member of Quora -- you may find this thread to be good reading.

 

This story originally appeared at Green Car Reports

 

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