The Tesla Logo: Unplugging the Past, Charging the Future

In the fast-paced world of automotive innovation, few brands have captured the public’s imagination quite like Tesla. Beyond its groundbreaking electric cars and cutting-edge technology, the evolution of the Tesla logo stands as a symbol of its commitment to pushing boundaries. 

Since the company’s start in 2003, each iteration of the logo reflects both the brand’s evolution and the transformation of the electric vehicle industry. 

The Tesla brand has remained surprisingly consistent, with only two logo versions since its inception. Join us as we explore the history of the Tesla logo and delve into the significance behind the design of the two versions.

Tesla logo evolution summary

  • Reinforcing safety (2003-2017): The shield design symbolizes safety and honors prolific inventor Nikola Tesla
  • Sleek and streamlined (2017 – Today): A more simplified and contemporary design reflects the company’s growth and focus on modernity and minimalism

A brief history of Tesla Motors: Revolutionizing the road

Tesla Motors was established in 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, driven by a vision to hasten the emergence of sustainable transport. Elon Musk joined Tesla Motors in 2004, assuming the roles of co-founder, CEO, and product architect. 

The company’s initial funding came from its co-founders, and Musk provided $6.5 million during the Series A round of funding. In May 2009, Daimler AG acquired a 10% stake in Tesla Motors for $50 million.

The Tesla Roadster, the company’s first production vehicle, kicked off Tesla Motors’ journey in the electric vehicle industry. This groundbreaking Tesla model showcased the potential of electric cars and sparked an industry-wide shift toward sustainable transportation.

RO Studio, the design firm behind the branding for both Tesla and SpaceX, another of Musk’s ventures, created the Tesla logo. It adorned many models throughout the company’s history, starting with the Roadster and then the Model S, Model X, Model 3, and Model Y, staying consistent through each new milestone.

A modern and innovative design, the Tesla logo pays homage to the company’s namesake, Nikola Tesla. 

The Tesla logo evolution: Revolutionizing sustainable transport

tesla logo evolution

The Tesla logo is a nod to Nikola Tesla and represents the company’s mission of sustainable transport. It features a stylized “T” inspired by an electric motor, embodying modernity, innovation, and progress in its font and typography, as well as power, luxury, and change in its color palette.

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2003-2017: Reinforcing safety and an homage to its roots


Tesla 2009 logo

Between 2003 and 2017, the Tesla logo used a shield, symbolizing security and a callback to Nikola Tesla’s ideologies. The shield design emphasized the company’s commitment to ensuring the safety of its customers and the environment through electric vehicles.

Within the shield lay a hidden symbol. At first glance, you see a stylized “T,” but the truth is much more interesting. This unique T-shaped symbol represented a cross-section of an electric motor!

We see this symbol become much more prominent in the second iteration of the logo. 

This logo version conveyed Tesla’s dedication to revolutionizing the automotive industry through sustainable and innovative technologies.

2017 – Today: As sleek and streamlined as the latest Tesla model

In 2017, the Tesla logo changed. The logo was simplified and modernized, dropping the shield and replacing the plain sans-serif wordmark with a characterized display font.

The secret behind the Tesla logo came to the forefront in this logo evolution. The “T” in the logo is, in fact, meant to represent a cross-section of an electric motor. Elon Musk explained this himself on social media in 2017. 

Elon Musk explains Tesla logo meaning

Reducing distracting elements and sticking to core themes is what makes a great logo. By removing the shield and updating the wordmark, we get a bold and futuristic look that not only communicates the Tesla brand identity but also references its product. 

The shift in design between the streamlined version Tesla uses today and the previous design showcases Tesla’s evolution and growth in the electric vehicle industry.

Big themes: Tesla logo design elements

The Tesla logo is more than just an image; it’s a powerful symbol of the brand’s commitment to innovation, progress, and sustainability in the electric car industry.

The significance of the stylized ‘T’

Tesla logo hidden meaning


The stylized “T” in the Tesla logo is a nod to the cross-section of an electric motor. The leg of the “T” symbolizes the motor’s stator, while the top curved bar signifies the air gap. 

No idea what we just said? Read: the “T” symbol shows off cool car stuff.

Either way, the use of symbol as a letter is a brilliant logo design choice. Carefully incorporate Tesla’s brand product into the logo. You can find similar design options available in Looka’s logo maker

Not only does the “T” represent Tesla’s commitment to electric vehicles, but it also serves as a visual tribute to the inventor Nikola Tesla and his pioneering work in electromagnetism. This link between the logo and Nikola Tesla’s legacy underscores the company’s dedication to innovation and sustainability.

Font and typography: Embodying the spirit of electric motors

Tesla wordmark logo

The clean lines and minimalist style of the Tesla logo suggest innovation, a central concept of electric energy. The font is minimalistic, lacking vertical lines in the letters “E” and “A.” The design reinforces the idea of simplicity and futurism, mirroring Tesla’s pioneering approach to electric vehicles. 

The logo’s slanted “T” shape serves as a visual representation of energy in motion. Overall, the font and typography of the Tesla logo effectively convey the electric spirit and the brand’s commitment to innovation and sustainability.

Color palette: Power, luxury, and change

Tesla has a white logo on a black or red background, drawing on a modern black-and-white (or silver) color palette. A study in contrasts, on the one hand, the color white symbolizes purity, innovation, and technological advancement. The color black, on the other hand, denotes the brand’s dedication to luxury and innovation.

Red is often used as an accent color in the Tesla logo, symbolizing passion and change in the automotive industry. Combining these colors in the logo creates a visually striking and meaningful representation of the brand’s identity and values, communicating Tesla’s commitment to innovation, luxury, and sustainability in the electric vehicle market.

The unique look and hidden meaning behind the Tesla logo cements it as an iconic logo of today’s innovation sector.


What does the Tesla symbol represent?

The Tesla logo symbolizes an electric motor, with the stem of the “T” representing one pole of the rotor and the crossbar illustrating the stationary part of the motor.

What did Tesla stand for?

Founders Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning named Tesla Motors after renowned Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla, who invented the AC induction motor in 1887 (and patented it a year later).

Is the Tesla logo a Tesla coil?

Contrary to popular belief, Tesla’s logo is not a stylized Tesla coil. Elon Musk confirmed on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, that the “T” represents an electric motor, similar to how the “X” denotes a rocket trajectory in SpaceX’s logo. 

Who designed the Tesla logo?

RO Studio, a design firm based in New Jersey, designed the Tesla logo.

How has the Tesla logo evolved?

The Tesla logo emblazoned on the company’s products today has evolved, transitioning from a shield design focused on safety to a more straightforward, modern emblem.

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