Ford Motor Company's reorganisation into Ford Model e (EV operations) and Ford Blue (ICE operations) finally provides an explanation as to why the Blue Oval opposed Tesla's attempt to register the Model E trademark in 2014.
At the time, Ford stepped in to block Tesla's trademark application, justifying its action with a 2010 agreement between the companies that prevented Tesla from using the letter E for a car name.
While it didn't have a car in the past named Model E, Ford argued that Model E sounded too similar to the original mass-market hit automobile, the Ford Model T.
"A friend asked me at a party, 'What are you going to name the third-generation car?' Well, we have the S and the X, so we might as well make it the E."
According to Automotive News, Ford found out about the plans and called Musk, threatening to sue Tesla for using its Model E trademark. Musk gave Ford a humorous reply after the Blue Oval challenged Tesla's application for a Model E.
"We're like, 'Ford's killing SEX. So, OK, fine we won't use Model E."
Musk didn't give up on the idea and found a workaround, naming Tesla's entry-level car the Model 3—with the figure 3 being easy to read as a backward uppercase letter E. The EV maker subsequently added a compact crossover, the Model Y, eventually leading to a lineup that can be now spelled S3XY.
Did Ford know in 2014 that it was going to name its EV division Ford Model e? That's impossible to say, but the automaker must have at least explored the idea of launching a Model E vehicle in the future given that it had registered the Model E trademark in October 2003.
In February 2001, Ford applied to register the Model E trademark for vehicles, namely electric-powered cars, carts, scooters, SUVs, trucks, buses and vans, as well as electric-powered boats and recreational jet boats.