By selling Zero Emission Vehicle credits earned from the sale of its Roadster in California, Tesla Motors earned $12 million. Large automakers must hit ZEV sales and production targets, but buying credits can give them some flexibility.
Tesla may have a Model E vehicle in the works, or it may just want to call dibs on the name.
Earlier this month, the company filed three trademark applications for the name "Model E," according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Web site. The Aug. 5 applications refer to use of the name in "automobiles and structural parts therefore," automobile maintenance and repair services, as well as apparel.
A status message posted on each of the applications on Aug. 13 notes that they will be assigned to a patent office attorney for examination in about three months.
A Tesla spokeswoman declined to comment on the application.
In a Q&A on car enthusiast blog Jalopnik last year, Tesla CEO Elon Musk suggested the possibility of a Model E vehicle.
"There will definitely be more models after the S and X. Maybe an E :)," Musk wrote.
A coveted name
In 2000, Ford Motor Co. filed a lawsuit against Model E Corporation, an online automotive startup, alleging that "Model E" is too similar to the company's historic Model T car. A judge dismissed the case on the grounds that Ford failed to allege a proper basis for suing Model E in Michigan.
Ford also abandoned or cancelled trademark applications for "Model E" in 2001 and 2002, according to the USPTO site.
Earlier Thursday, Ford spokesman Jay Cooney said the company likely won't challenge Tesla's application.
But later Thursday evening, he said Ford will review the registration and the company would have no further comment.