DETROIT Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA.O), the electric car maker led by billionaire Elon Musk, has filed an application to trademark the "Model E" name to potentially use on future automobiles, clothing and repair service.
The name is in keeping with Tesla's style. The automaker now sells an electric sedan called the Model S and next year, it will launch the Model X crossover.
Musk's branding strategy is a nod to the Model T, which became the first vehicle middle-class Americans could afford when Ford Motor Co introduced it in 1908.
Tesla spokeswoman Shanna Hendriks declined to comment on whether the name would be used for the company's third-generation electric car, which Musk has said would be introduced by 2017.
The automaker filed the application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on August 5. It is not pending. The trademark filing was first reported by the website VentureBeat.
The automaker's third-generation model is expected to cost between $30,000 and $35,000, or about half the price of a Model S, which starts around $70,000 before a federal tax credit.
Tesla shares have more than quadrupled this year as Model S sales surpassed expectations. The company said on Monday that the car had received the "best safety rating of any car ever tested.
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirmed the Model S achieved the best overall safety score of any vehicle tested for model years 2011 to 2014.
NHTSA made the testing procedures tougher for the 2011 model year and has not retested models built for the 1990 to 2011 years under the new standards.
Clarence Ditlow, executive director for the Center for Auto Safety, said he would "fall out of his chair if a pre-2011 model did better" than the Model S.
(Reporting by Deepa Seetharaman; Editing by Toni Reinhold)