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Tesla's Model S

The Tesla Roadster
Uncle Sam stands a better chance of getting its money back from Tesla than from GM or Chrysler

Tesla Motors has received approval from the United States Department of Energy for up to $465 million in low-interest loans. The electric car manufacturer had faced significant financing difficulties due to the global credit crunch and resulting recession, despite having an order backlog of over 1,500 vehicles. This forced a delay in the acquisition of a Californian production facility and the subsequent plans for several models.

The loans are part of the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program, which provides incentives to new and established automakers to build more fuel-efficient vehicles, including hybrid and electric vehicles. The ATVMP was created in 2007 and appropriated funding in September 2008. The $25 billion program is supposed to reduce America’s dangerous dependence on foreign oil and create “green collar” jobs.

The program is not related to any economic stimulus package or bailout funding that General Motors and Chrysler have received.

“Tesla will use the ATVM loan precisely the way that Congress intended -- as the capital needed to build sustainable transport,” said Tesla CEO and Product Architect Elon Musk. “We are honored that the US government selected Tesla to be among the first companies to participate in this progressive program.”

Tesla Motors plans to draw $365 million for production engineering and assembly of the Model S, an all-electric family sports sedan that carries up to seven people and travels up to 300 miles per charge. The company expects to start production of the Model S in late 2011 in a new assembly plant employing approximately 1,000 workers.

Tesla will use the remaining $100 million for a powertrain manufacturing plant that will supply all-electric powertrain solutions to other automakers, greatly accelerating the availability of mass market electric vehicles.  The new factory is expected to employ about 650 people in California. Tesla is currently in the final stages of negotiation for both facilities.

The firm recently signed a deal with Daimler, which will provide engineering and financial support in exchange for a ten percent equity stake. Daimler will use Tesla's powertrains in its second generation electric Smart cars starting in 2012.

Tesla remains privately owned, with several hundred million dollars in funding coming from Elon Musk (former President of Paypal) and several venture capital funds. Google co-founders Sergey Brin & Larry Page are significant investors, as is former eBay President Jeff Skoll.

The company plans to reach a breakeven point by the end of this year, as it increases sales by opening half a dozen new stores throughout North America and Europe. Its new London store will open on June 25.

If all goes well with production and sales of Model S vehicles, Tesla intends to produce an affordable third model, codenamed BlueStar. This electric vehicle for the masses is targeted to cost around $30,000, with development being  funded by profits from the Model S sedan.

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European Demand
By Cappadocious on 6/23/2009 1:47:56 PM , Rating: 2
I would be interested to see how much demand there would be for these vehicles in European countries considering they pay so much more for fuel then we do here in the states.

When I was in Ireland 2 years ago it was 1.18 euro per litre(sp?). Considering the exchange rate at the time it was almost $6 per gallon.

RE: European Demand
By ArcliteHawaii on 6/23/2009 4:46:19 PM , Rating: 2
Gasoline is over $10 per gallon in Germany. Europe has good public transport though. That's one thing the states needs to start investing in.

RE: European Demand
By Solandri on 6/23/2009 5:14:25 PM , Rating: 3
The dynamics for public transport in Europe are completely different from the U.S. Public transport starts to become inconvenient when the bus/train makes an excessive number of stops or you have to make frequent transfers. Cities which don't have high density (e.g. Los Angeles) have low utilization of public transport because of this. People aren't gonna sit in and switch buses for 2 hours when they can drive there in 45 minutes. In a densely populated area like most of Europe, you don't have this problem. U.S. cities with population densities similar to Europe already have extensive public transportation with high utilization.

The U.S. needs a different paradigm for public transport which works with lower population density. A good example I saw in Boston was for people living in suburbs to drive to the end of a subway line and park there, then take the subway into the city to their workplace.

RE: European Demand
By highlandsun on 6/23/2009 7:29:57 PM , Rating: 2
Or we can start bulldozing the periphery of the low density cities (like Flint is doing). Problem is, in LA the periphery is still pretty heavily populated, all-in-all. And also, high density construction probably isn't a great idea for a place with so many earthquakes.

I'd like to see more mass transit here in LA, but creating a system that's useful is a tough problem. The routes would all be pretty long, and with too many stops to be bearable...

RE: European Demand
By Jeffk464 on 6/24/2009 9:48:25 AM , Rating: 2
I think a great solution for LA would be to get all cars out of the carpool lane and use them strictly for express buses. Unlike light rail/subways you can run express buses all over the place and serve point to point transportation between every municipality in the city. Plus it would be really easy to vary the number of buses on different routes based on demand/usage. The downside would be a higher death rate but it still should be less then cars.

As far as the testla sedan they did an absolutely beautiful job on styling. If they did a good job with ride quality and keeping noise levels low, I think it will easily sell to the upscale market. I heard that they have European buyers flying to california to buy the roadster and ship it all the way back to europe.

RE: European Demand
By Spuke on 6/24/2009 11:57:26 AM , Rating: 2
If they did a good job with ride quality and keeping noise levels low,
I don't think that will be an issue with the car being ALL electric.

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