Tesla Repays $465 Million DOE Loan 9 Years Early
May 22, 2013 10:20 PM
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Tesla's early repayment is mainly due to last week's announcement regarding its plan to issue more stock and pay off the energy loan with the proceeds
Tesla Motors announced today that it has repaid its $465 million
in full nearly a decade early.
"I would like to thank the Department of Energy and the members of Congress and their staffs that worked hard to create the [loan] program, and particularly the American taxpayer from whom these funds originate," said Elon Musk, Tesla co-founder and CEO. "I hope we did you proud."
Tesla was approved to receive a $465 million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in June 2009. The loan, which was part of the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program, was to be repaid by 2022. But in March of this year, Tesla received permission to pay the loan back five years early by mid-2017.
But now, Tesla has repaid the whole sum -- nine years earlier than expected from the original 2022 due date.
Tesla's early repayment is mainly due to last week's announcement regarding its plan to i
ssue more stock and pay off the energy loan
with the proceeds. Tesla said it wanted to sell about $830 million in shares, and use $450 million in convertible senior notes (which are due in 2018) along with sales of 2.7 million shares (valued at about $229 million at the time) to pay back its federal loan.
Tesla Model S
Also helpful to Tesla's cause is the fact that it managed to start shipping 500 Model S sedans per week starting in March of this year, exceeding the sales outlook of 4,500 posted in the February shareholder letter. In fact, Tesla managed to sell 4,900 Model S sedans in the first quarter. The automaker plans to deliver 21,000 total for the year, which slightly exceeds previous forecasts of about 20,000.
Tesla reported its
first profitable quarter
in Q1 2013, where it posted a net income of $11.2 million (a huge increase from an $89.9 million loss in the year-ago quarter). Excluding certain items, Tesla's profit came in at 12 cents a share, which was a boost from a loss of 76 cents a share in Q1 2012. Analysts expected a profit of about 4 cents a share. Revenue also saw a huge year-over-year boost, totaling $562 million (up from $30.2 million in the year-ago quarter).
Tesla is certainly looking to keep that momentum going, and is doing by extending
excellent service beyond the point of sale
. Last month, the automaker announced a new battery replacement program as well as new service programs, which feature valet for customers who need to send their Model S' to the shop -- and can even borrow (or later buy) a better Model S or Tesla Roadster as loaner vehicles.
Today's early repayment is a crucial point in the history of clean energy loans issued by the Obama administration. Even though DOE said today that losses in the loan program are at 2 percent of a $34 billion portfolio and less than 10 percent of the $10 billion loss reserve, it's hard to forget some of the large loan defaults made by now-bankrupt clean energy companies.
Tesla/SpaceX CEO Elon Musk
In September 2011, Silicon Valley-based solar panel company Solyndra filed for bankruptcy after receiving
a $535 million loan
from the DOE in 2009. Government officials reportedly warned the administration of the viability of Solyndra, saying the company would go bankrupt in a matter of two years. The warnings were put aside in order to meet political deadlines.
Later in November 2011, Beacon Power, a company that creates flywheels to store power and increase grid efficiency by preventing blackouts, filed for bankruptcy after receiving
a $43 million loan guarantee
from the Department of Energy in August 2010.
But the failed energy loans didn't end there. Battery maker
EnerDel's Ener1 subsidiary
filed for bankruptcy in January 2012 after winning a $118.5 million grant from the DOE in August 2009. Ener1 was supposed to develop batteries for electric vehicles.
Just last month, it was announced that California-based Fisker Automotive -- which makes plug-in hybrid electric vehicles -- was talking bankruptcy. The automaker received $529 million in
in April 2010 for the development of high-tech vehicles. However, Fisker fell a little behind on its production schedule, and in May 2011,
DOE froze the loans due to "unmet milestones."
Fisker had only drawn $193 million of it at that point.
Due to these frozen loans,
Fisker is having a hard time
securing funds to make its second car -- the Fisker Atlantic. Fisker is now looking for investors to help out financially, but the company's investor solution has drawn a lot of criticism because two potentials have been Chinese companies -- Zhejiang Geely Holding Group and Dongfeng Motor Group Co. This is seen as an issue because Fisker received U.S. taxpayer dollars to fund its Karma plug-in.
Things have only gotten worse, as Fisker was forced to lay off 75 percent of its staff and even missed its DOE payment in late April.
Thankfully, Tesla has had a better time with its clean auto production. The company can now look ahead to continued Model S success and production of its
Model X crossover EV
(which hoped to begin production this year, but was shelved to 2014 with deliveries expected in 2015).
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
5/23/2013 11:27:19 AM
Battery development is beyond rapid right now. In 4-5 years I have no doubt that the cost and weight per kwH will have halved. If this holds true there will be many EV options in the $20k-$30k market with 200+ range.
5/23/2013 4:32:10 PM
I guess time will tell, but I think you're overly optimistic.
Double density batteries have a much more lucrative market right now with smartphones. Apple and Samsung would easily pay $2 per Wh for such a battery (5x current prices), even if it only had half the cycle life needed for automotive applications. Yet it doesn't exist.
The startup that figures out how to increase density is certainly going to tap that market first. Only when such technologies becomes widespread knowledge will higher density have a chance at lowering costs.
Raw materials aren't really the limiting factor in battery costs anyway. With current energy densities, even a cheap $300/kWh works out to $60+/kg, which is many times more expensive than lithium, cobalt, carbon, etc.
5/23/2013 4:41:51 PM
I don't think he's overly optimistic. The reality is money is the driving force behind this tech right now. That's a very strong incentive for most people.
"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone
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