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The Name 'Tesla' Was Taken. Elon Musk and His Co-Founders Bought It for $75,000

Erin Corbett

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.

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.”