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What the Tesla logo means: CEO Elon Musk explains

An automaker's logo can and perhaps should be as recognizable as its cars, if not more.

That makes logo design a very important task.

Tesla's logo is certainly not anonymous, but it turns out there's more to it than may be immediately apparent.

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What looks like simply a stylized "T" is actually a reference to the company's products, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a recent tweet (via Motor1).


The Tesla logo is intended to represent the cross-section of an electric motor, Musk explained to a querying Twitter follower.

Musk seemed to be referring to the main body of the "T" as representing one of the poles that stick out of a motor's rotor, with the second line on top representing a section of the stator.

Repeating the Tesla logo in a circle, with the top of each "T" facing outward, does indeed create a reasonable facsimile of an electric-motor cross-section. (Motor architectures can vary considerably, so take this as a simplified explanation.)

In this respect, it matches the logo of SpaceX, another of Musk's ventures—which in this case designs and builds rockets, and contracts to send payloads into orbit.


The stylized "X" in the SpaceX logo is meant to represent a rocket trajectory, Musk said in his tweets.

MORE: Tesla Finally Gets Tesla.com Domain; Could Name Change Follow? (Feb 2016)

Both logos were designed by RO-Studio, a design firm based in New Jersey.

Compared to those of Tesla and SpaceX, the logo of Musk's third major venture is relatively straightforward.

SolarCity's logo includes a sun graphic, representing the power source for the company's solar panels.


Musk negotiated Tesla's purchase of SolarCity last year, citing anticipated synergies between solar energy and Tesla's energy-storage battery business.

SolarCity was previously controlled by Musk and members of his family, but had been a separate corporate entity from Tesla.

The SolarCity acquisition is the latest indication that Musk views Tesla as more than just an automaker.

Recently, the company officially re-branded itself as simply "Tesla Inc.," rather than the previous "Tesla Motors."

Last year, it acquired the rights to the domain name "Tesla.com" after roughly 10 years of trying, and has since adopted it as the domain for its website.

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