Print 22 comment(s) - last by Brian H.. on Feb 3 at 9:42 PM

Tesla Roadster

Tesla Roadster Sport

Tesla Model S
Electric car maker's initial public offering will be first U.S. automaker IPO since Ford Motor Co. (1956)

Tesla Motors weathered the rocky road of being a pioneer in the electric vehicle industry.  Faced with financial ruin at every turn, the company instead beat the odds and found the narrow road to success.  After a couple of limited edition 100-car series (beginning in 2006), full-scale production began March 2008.  And last July, fueled by the popularity of its 2010 Tesla Roadster, the company achieved profitability for the first time.

"Profitable electric automaker" sounds like a loaded oxymoron if there ever was one, but Tesla Motors has shown that electric vehicles can be not only good looking, but good business as well.  Its Roadsters have strong appeal among luxury buyers -- from the "green" factor, to the convenience of never getting gas, to the responsive performance of a powerful electric motor.

Thus when Tesla filed on Friday to make a $100 million USD public stock offering, it has turned many heads.  The IPO from the six-year-old company could be the hottest of 2010 -- after all, there hasn't been an IPO from a U.S. automaker since Ford Motor Co. first issued public stock in 1956.

Tesla has not announced a date for the IPO, but it is expected to land before the end of 2010.

The IPO has strong financial backing – Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, and Deutsche Bank Securities are underwriting the IPO.  Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page are among the venture capitalists that have already jumped at the chance to invest in the promising new star of the green auto world (Daimler also holds a stake).

The company also has a new vehicle on the horizon -- the Tesla Model S.  The Model S sedan is expected to get 160 to 300 miles on a charge and retail for approximately $49,900 after a $7,500 federal tax credit.  While still rather expensive, that price makes it somewhat competitive with the 2011 Chevy Volt (expected to retail in the low 30s after tax credit) and much more approachable for entry-level luxury buyers.

In other recent Tesla news -- also found within the SEC filing -- is an interesting nugget of information regarding the Roadster which is the only vehicle that Tesla currently sells. Unfortunately for Tesla, the company won't be able to sell the current Roadster after 2011 "due to planned tooling changes at a supplier for the Tesla Roadster."

It's more than likely that Tesla is talking about a "tooling change" happening at Lotus' Hethel, UK facility where the Roadster's chassis is assembled. The Roadster shares a number of components with the Lotus Elise -- including the dashboard, windshield, and suspension pieces -- so any change that affects the Lotus Elise is bound to affect the Roadster as well.

Previous reports have noted that the next generation Elise could be in production by 2011 at the earliest, but most likely in 2012. This would coincide with the timeframe that Tesla notes with regards to the end of first generation Roadster production. Tesla explains, "we do not currently plan to begin selling our next generation Tesla Roadster until at least one year after the launch of the Model S, which is not expected to be in production until 2012."

2012 will be a pivotal year for the company with no sales of the Roadster to bank on and a financially burdensome launch of a brand new vehicle (Model S). "We are almost entirely dependent upon revenue generated from the sale of our electric vehicles, specifically the Tesla Roadster, in the near term," adds Tesla Motors "Our future success will be dependent upon our ability to design and achieve market acceptance of new vehicle models, and specifically the Model S."

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RE: Made in the USA ?
By Brandon Hill on 1/31/2010 7:32:09 PM , Rating: 3
In Tesla's case, they really had no choice but to go with someone like Lotus to help develop a lightweight chassis for the Roadster. Lotus already had the expertise in producing lightweight, aluminum chassis vehicles.

There are no current American-made roadster platforms that were light enough to meet Tesla's performance targets (and producing one from scratch on their own without assistance would have been $$$). The closest modern domestic RWD platform that I can think of that could have even possibly worked would have been the Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky which use the now dead Kappa platform.

Even then, the Kappa roadsters weigh around 2800 lbs in production trim. A U.S.-spec Lotus Elise, however, weighs about 2000 lbs in production trim. That's quite a difference -- once you take out the conventional drivetrain and add back the battery, control system, and electric motor, the Roadster weighs in at 2700 lbs which still undercuts a Kappa roadster while offering superior performance.

RE: Made in the USA ?
By therealnickdanger on 2/1/2010 8:37:41 AM , Rating: 3
If it makes y'all feel better, the Dodge Magnum served as a test mule for the Tesla Model S. I plan on jumping all over TSLA when it's made available!

RE: Made in the USA ?
By Lord 666 on 2/1/2010 11:01:03 AM , Rating: 1
Just read the fine print within the SEC filings about a rich Uncle Sam that can change contracts at will and make investors to agree on settling for pennies on the dollar.

RE: Made in the USA ?
By Cypherdude1 on 2/1/2010 3:19:44 PM , Rating: 2
The Model S sedan is expected to get 160 to 300 miles on a charge and retail for approximately $49,900 after a $7,500 federal tax credit
I don't know what the big deal is about Tesla. All their products are so overpriced, most people can't even afford them. Only the upper classes can afford Tesla products. If Tesla can sell $100,000 and $50,000 cars, then GM should do pretty well selling their Volt at $35,000.

RE: Made in the USA ?
By jimbojimbo on 2/1/2010 4:29:53 PM , Rating: 1
You forget one thing. The Volt looks stupid and the Tesla Roadster looks kick ass. Now if they were selling the Volt they first displayed it'd be a different story.

RE: Made in the USA ?
By Spuke on 2/1/2010 5:59:37 PM , Rating: 3
You forget one thing. The Volt looks stupid and the Tesla Roadster looks kick ass. Now if they were selling the Volt they first displayed it'd be a different story.
Thank God you're not selling cars. How can you compare a sedan to a 2 seat sports car? or how about a range extended electric with a pure electric? Sh!t, how can you compare a $100k PLUS car to a $40k one?

And my personal favorite whiny b!tch comment, "Whaaaaaa why doesn't the Volt look like the concept whaaaaaa?!!!! (said with sniveling nasally voice) For various reasons that have been explained, ad nauseam, it doesn't. GET OVER IT!!!

RE: Made in the USA ?
By bhieb on 2/1/2010 10:10:44 AM , Rating: 2
Wasn't there something about it being categorized as a "kit" car as well, and thus avoiding some safety requirements. I may be mistaking this for something else, but I do remember a car using a Lotus body in order to get it classified as a "kit" car.

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