It wasn’t the first company to produce electric cars, but Tesla’s name has since become synonymous with the technology. Despite the company’s notoriety, few people know how it was chosen and who the name pays homage to.
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Current CEO Elon Musk didn’t have a say in the name, as he joined the company after it had already been incorporated.
Tesla’s name was actually thought up in Disneyland’s Blue Bayou restaurant, when Tesla cofounder Martin Eberhard pitched it to his then girlfriend, and now wife, Carolyn, according to Business Insider.
Eberhard chose the name, after months of unsuccessful pitches, to honor Nikola Tesla, the Serbian-American inventor who created the AC electric motor that is used in Tesla’s cars.
Nikola Tesla immigrated to United States in 1884 and initially worked for Thomas Edison, where he was tasked with improving Edison’s DC power system.
Tesla and Edison eventually had a falling out after Edison dismissed Tesla’s proposed plans to utilize an AC power system, leading to Tesla’s decision to join Westinghouse Electric Company and marking the start of the “War of Currents” between Thomas Edison’s DC power system and Tesla’s AC power system.
Tesla ultimately prevailed and his innovative legacy lives on in Musk's electric-car company.
The original article incorrectly stated Edison’s DC power system defeated Tesla’s AC power system.