Tesla vs. Nikola: What to know

Both companies are named after Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla

Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla might never in a million years have predicted that two publicly traded electric-car makers would be named after him.

But that's exactly what has happened on June 3, nearly 80 years after his death, when Nikola Motor Co. joined Tesla Inc. on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
TSLA TESLA, INC. 759.49 +2.50 +0.33%
NKLA NIKOLA CORP. 10.69 +0.36 +3.48%

The Trevor Milton-led Nikola Motor, which currently has no revenue, is taking aim at the commercial-trucking and pickup-truck markets. The Phoenix-based company debuted with a $12 billion market value that less than a week later mushroomed to $30 billion.

ELON MUSK PERPLEXED OVER TESLA'S SKY-HIGH STOCK

Nikola’s red-hot start may have been what prompted Tesla CEO Elon Musk on June 10 to declare his electric-vehicle maker would forge ahead with volume production of its Semi, a tractor-trailer.

The Palo Alto-based Tesla, which had a $190 billion market value as of June 10, was the world’s No. 2 automaker in terms of market capitalization, trailing only Toyota Motor Corp.

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Tesla’s lofty valuation comes despite the automaker selling only 368,000 vehicles in its most recent fiscal year. The company plans to sell more than 500,000 this year.   

The inventor who inspired the company's name, Nikola Tesla, worked as an engineer at Thomas Edison's Manhattan headquarters for a year before later creating the Tesla Tower, an experimental wireless transmission station that he hoped would provide free energy all over the world. 

Tesla eventually engaged in a fierce rivalry with Edison, who invented a commercially viable light bulb and founded General Electric. The two specialized in different types of electrical currents, and while Tesla died in poverty, he still maintains a cult following.