Tesla almost had a very different name—until Elon Musk and his co-founders bought the rights to “Tesla” for $75,000.
He and the company’s other founders did not come up with or own the name Tesla, the Tesla CEO told Lesley Stahl on a 60 Minutes interview airing Sunday night. Instead, they bought it for $75,000 from Brad Siewert, a man in Sacramento who owned the rights to Tesla Motors, which was named after Nikola Tesla, the scientist and engineer.
In a post on Twitter sharing “Tesla history trivia,” Musk said that the co-founders bought the name from Siewert in 2004. Siewert had filed for the name 10 years earlier.
Tesla’s backup name? Faraday. That name comes from Faraday’s law of induction, named for scientist Michael Faraday.
“Our alternative name was Faraday, which was used by a competitor several years later,” Musk tweeted, referring to Faraday Future.
Tesla history trivia: we didn’t actually come up with the Tesla Motors name. Bought trademark off Brad Siewert for $75k in late 2004. He’d originally filed for it in 1994. Our alternative name was Faraday, which was used by a competitor several years later. https://t.co/zPnrrVash1— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 9, 2018
Yeah, we wanted to name our company after Tesla, the great scientist/engineer, but use of the Tesla name in automotive was already trademarked in the US, Europe & later China.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 9, 2018
Musk also told Stahl that he pronounces the company name as “Tezla.” He said, “It’s with a Z, because I get sort of a Z-ish sound.”