Tesla Motor Inc. (TSLA) is an American electric car and power-train designer, developer, manufacturer and distributor headed by CEO and serial entrepreneur Elon Musk. The company was founded in 2003 and is headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif. 

Key Takeaways

  • Tesla has a number of competitors among traditional carmakers, such as Ford and Honda. 
  • Tesla has managed to see success by focusing on high-status and premium electric vehicles (EVs).
  • There is more competition, however, now entering the higher-end electric and self-driving car market.  
  • Still, when it comes to luxury EVs, Tesla owns the top spots. 

It’s also involved with providing services to other automotive companies toward these goals, for example, by selling its battery technology. Tesla has two primary revenue segments—automotive sales and development services. Automotive sales account for the lion's share of the revenue. 

Major competitors for Tesla include traditional auto companies such as: 

  • Ford Motor Company (F), the multinational automobile manufacturer founded in 1903.
  • General Motors (GM), the U.S.-based automobile manufacturer founded in 1908.
  • Honda Motor Company (HMC), a multinational automobile manufacturer founded in 1948.
  • Navistar (NAV), commercial vehicle holding company.
  • Oshkosh (OSK), truck and military vehicle manufacturer, founded in 1917.
  • PACCAR, truck manufacturer.
  • Spartan Motors, a specialty chassis and vehicle manufacturer.
  • Tata Motors, the largest automotive manufacturer in India.
  • Toyota Motor Corp. (TM), a multinational automotive manufacturer.
  • Wabco (WBC), manufacturer of systems for heavy-duty commercial vehicles. 

Traditional car companies are continuously increasing their offerings of hybrid gasoline-electric cars as well as pure electric vehicles—such as the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf. Still, Tesla cars carry with them a certain high-status cache that has not yet been reproduced by the incumbent automakers. But this is quickly changing, as more car companies are getting involved with developing and producing electric cars, including BMW, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar & Land Rover, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo.

Kia has launched an EV SUV, called the Kia Niro EV, argued to be the EV SUV on the market. Nissan and Volkswagen have long offered relatively inexpensive options for EVs, with Nissan having the Leaf and Volkswagen offering its E-Golf. 

Still, when it comes to high-end EVs, Tesla rules. US News ranks the top 5 luxury electric vehicles, where Tesla cars took the no. 1 and no. 2 spots: 

  1. Tesla Model S
  2. Tesla Model 3
  3. Porsche Taycan
  4. Lexus ES Hybrid 
  5. BWI i3

Porsche has a lot of name recognition, known for high-quality sports cars. Porsche claims its charging station to be the fastest in the world, and its Taycan going from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds. The BWI i3 meanwhile is a high-roof hatchback but has the same high-end name recognition that Porsche carries. 

Tesla markets and sells its cars through its own network of retail stores located in North America, Europe, and Asia. For the full fiscal year 2019, the company reported gross revenues of $24.58 billion. Tesla has a market capitalization of $270.73 billion as of Aug. 8, 2020. It does not pay a dividend.

Tesla has not remained profitable despite its high demand for its electric cars and rapid expansion—the company has also been investing heavily in its infrastructure, with the construction of its new Gigafactory in Reno, Nev., among other initiatives. "Given that Tesla has never made an annual profit in the almost 15 years since it existed, profit is obviously not what motivates us," Elon Musk wrote in 2018.