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Wisconsin Watch partners with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. Read our methodology to learn how we check claims.


Tesla Inc. was founded in 2003 by entrepreneurs Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, according to several sources, including Britannica,, CNN and Benzinga financial news service.

A Sept. 18, 2023, post on Facebook’s Politics Wisconsin page shared an image that said Elon Musk was not a founder.

The Austin, Texas-based company, best known for manufacturing Tesla electric vehicles, calls Musk a co-founder. Beginning in 2004, he was a major investor and served as the company chair. He has been CEO since 2008.

Bank of America said in June that Tesla’s share of the electric vehicle market was 62% in 2022, but predicted it would drop to 18% by 2026.

This Fact Brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


Encyclopædia Britannica: Tesla, Inc. | History, Cars, Elon Musk, & Facts

TheStreet: History of Tesla: Timeline and Facts

CNN: The History of Tesla and Elon Musk: A Radical Vision for the Future of Autos

Yahoo Finance: Benzinga: Elon Musk Wasn’t The Original Founder of Tesla — The Forgotten Founders Behind The Iconic Brand

Facebook: Politics- Wisconsin (archive): Post: September 18, 2023

Tesla: Elon Musk

Yahoo Finance: Tesla, Inc. (TSLA) Company Profile & Facts

CNBC: Tesla’s U.S. electric vehicle market share will drop to 18% by 2026, BofA estimates

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Tom Kertscher joined as a Wisconsin Watch fact checker in January 2023 and contributes to our collaboration with the The Gigafact Project to fight misinformation online. Kertscher is a former longtime newspaper reporter, including at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who has worked as a self-employed journalist since 2019. His gigs include contributing writer for Milwaukee Magazine and sports freelancer for The Associated Press.