How is Elon Musk Related to Nikola Tesla? The Truth Behind the Name of the Electric Car Company

Many people wonder if there is a connection between Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, and Nikola Tesla, the inventor of the alternating current induction motor. Are they related by blood, or is it just a coincidence that they share the same name? In this article, we will explore the truth behind the name of the electric car company and how Elon Musk is inspired by Nikola Tesla.

Who was Nikola Tesla?

Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-American electrical engineer, physicist, and inventor who lived from 1856 to 1943. He is best known for his contributions to the development of alternating current (AC) electricity, which is widely used today. He also invented the AC induction motor, which is the basis for the electric motors used in Tesla vehicles.

Tesla was a visionary who had many ideas for wireless communication, wireless power transmission, and renewable energy sources. He also experimented with X-rays, radio waves, and cosmic rays. He held more than 700 patents and was involved in a famous rivalry with Thomas Edison over the use of AC and direct current (DC) electricity.

Tesla died in poverty and obscurity in New York City, but his legacy was revived in the 20th century as his inventions and discoveries were recognized and appreciated by scientists and engineers. He is now regarded as one of the greatest inventors of all time and a symbol of innovation and creativity.

How did Tesla get its name?

Tesla, the electric car company, was founded in 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, two engineers who wanted to create a high-performance electric sports car. They named the company after Nikola Tesla as a tribute to his work on AC electricity and electric motors.

According to sitename Business Insider, Eberhard spent months trying to find a suitable name for the company that would not sound too ecological, too engineering-focused, or too Silicon Valley. He finally came up with the idea of Tesla while he was on a trip to Disneyland with his future wife. He pitched the name to her while they were at the Blue Bayou restaurant next to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. She liked it and told him to get to work on making his car.

Tarpenning bought the domain name in April 2003, and two months later, the company was incorporated. However, they soon discovered that someone else owned the trademark for Tesla Motors. According to sitename Market Realist, that person was Brad Siewert, a man from Sacramento who had filed for the name in 1994. The company had to pay him $75,000 to acquire the trademark.

What is Elon Musk’s relation to Nikola Tesla?

Elon Musk joined Tesla as an investor and board member in 2004, after he sold his online payment company PayPal to eBay. He became the CEO and product architect of Tesla in 2008, after a series of conflicts with Eberhard and other executives. He is now the face and voice of Tesla, leading its vision and strategy.

Musk has said that he is inspired by Nikola Tesla, but not related to him by blood. In fact, he has admitted that he is more of a fan of Thomas Edison than Nikola Tesla. In a 2008 interview for The Henry Ford museum, Musk said that Edison was one of his biggest role models for his life. He explained that he preferred Edison’s practical approach to innovation over Tesla’s theoretical approach.

Musk said that he named the company Tesla because they used an AC induction motor, which was an architecture that Tesla developed. He also said that without Tesla’s vision and brilliance, their car would not be possible. He added that if Tesla were alive today, he would be a happy Roadster customer and a passionate advocate of electric vehicles.


Elon Musk and Nikola Tesla are not related by blood, but they are connected by their passion for innovation and their involvement in the electric car industry. Tesla, the company, was named after Nikola Tesla as a homage to his work on AC electricity and electric motors. Elon Musk joined Tesla as an investor and later became its CEO and product architect. He has said that he is inspired by Nikola Tesla, but also admires Thomas Edison more. Both men are icons of technology who have shaped the world with their inventions and discoveries.

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