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,
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."