DOE loans Tesla $465M to build "Model S" - Ford got $4.9B, Nissan $1.6B under same program


Via Wired's Autopia blog:

The Obama Administration will lend Tesla Motors $465 million to build an electric sedan and the battery packs needed to propel it. It's one of three loans totaling almost $8 billion that the Department of Energy awarded today to spur the development of fuel-efficient vehicles.
Feds Lend Tesla $465 Million to Build Model S (Wired: Autopia, via @timoreilly)

More coverage: NYT, SJ Merc, NPR. Related: Tesla's Fantasy Valuation (Reuters)


  1. I love the blog comments on this… So many angry right wingers claiming Obama is throwing away their money, yet this was actually approved a couple years ago by the Bush administration.

  2. I was initially drooling over the concept of the aptera, until I got to the point where it was pretty clear they were only making a two seater. We are a single car family, so this is an immediate no sell. If Aptera and other new “green” car makers are trying to cut down on consumption, maybe making a car that can actually fit a family might be a good start. That way, people don’t need to buy two cars to get around town.

    I prefer the design of the Aptera over just about everything else I have seen for efficiency, but until these new carmakers figure out it has to fit a family, they are going to ride the ragged edge of failure. Tesla Motors is getting a clue, now lets see if they can get their prices down to something manageable.

  3. @ #2 – I bet they would be angry at the expenditure regardless of when and by whom this was authorized.

  4. This is what happens when failed businesses are bailed out, rather than liquidated so that new firms can take their place by producing superior products: tax dollars are spent “stimulating” innovation that was just moments earlier quashed with other tax dollars propping up Chrysler, Ford, and GM. (As if there were a shortage of car companies!)

    Stimulating Anachronism, Stifling Innovation

  5. The angry right wingers are probably forgetting that this is a loan, not a grant, and must be repaid by 2022.

    I’m sure that the angry right wingers won’t be whining too loudly when they’re driving a sweet electric car in a few years.

  6. The angry right wingers are probably forgetting that this is a loan, not a grant, and must be repaid by 2022.

    Credit is not a substitute for capital. Politically motivated loans (generally observed as those below market interest rates, such as the ultra-low rates decreed by the Fed) throw risk-assessment and time-preference out of whack — for which we all suffer, as this “econocalypse” demonstrates as it corrects the past mistakes.

    Regardless of the left-right red-herring, how is this not yet another form of corporatism?

  7. I’d love to see Aptera get some loans too, but first I’d want to take a closer look at their actual manufacturing plans. Their concept vehicles look great, but they keep pushing back their schedule of when vehicles will actually be in the hands of consumers. When they started out, they were saying that they expected to get the first vehicles into consumer hands during 2008, now they’re talking about late 2009 or early 2010. I’m not going to call it vaporware, but they need to actually get some cars in consumer hands soon, or that will start looking like a fair description.

  8. I’m pretty sure that electric vehicle designers are aware that family cars exist.

    It’s just that battery technology isn’t quite up to providing gas-like performance in a family-sized car. Someday, maybe, but not yet.

  9. You have to remember that Tesla is the company that ships a sports car with no toe in or wheel camber. Then again, maybe instead of being fooled by the size and appearance into thinking of it as a roadster, we should think of it as the latest in a long line of American sports cars. Goes like stank… in a straight line. If that’s the case, maybe tax dollars are appropriate.

  10. #3 you family guys aren’t the only people on the planet either, there are plenty of 20-something guys like me who have no need for a 4-seater 99% of the time. And, no, tesla made a sports car first because it needed to prove the concept and demand, they knew it would be expensive but expensive sports cars still sell. Cheap family guys wont buy a an all electic family car if it’s priced like a high end luxury sedan.

    #10 It’s a very heavy car due to battery weight, not for street carving. But if you want something to race around the track, and aren’t just a baffoon who does stupid things on public roads, an elise or exige would be the proper car and wouldn’t waste too much gas if used only for weekend racing.

  11. Given Tesla’s tumultuous business record, I don’t find it unusual at all that the Government is being cautious. After all, Tesla has only delivered about 600 of the Roadsters and reliability hasn’t been that great. This new sedan might be vaporware.

  12. #10 – Both camber and toe are adjustable on the Tesla.

    0 toe from the factory that is adjustable and a suspension design that has a great camber curve and is also adjustable (via shims) all riding on sticky AD07 Yokohama Advan Neova tires.

    As an avid autocrosser, I fail to see what the problem is.

  13. I’ve seen this headline several times today, and I still can’t work out if it’s supposed to be ‘oh my god how could they be so tight’ or ‘oh my god how could they be so reckless’…

    These figures are meaningless without a market cap or market size of the three companies to go with them, a classic Ben Goldacre complaint in reporting.

  14. Hopefully most of that money will be spent on Tesla’s and other EV manufacturers main problems, battery and BMS development for electric vehicles. Altairnano and A123 among others have some brilliant plans for rapid charging and high power density, but as yet have been unable to provide a sustainable product. Tesla produce toys for green(ish) boys’n’girls because I guess they realise that the existing charge times are not going to allow the family vehichle to be replaced until rapid charging technology is developed. As a second car or city vehicle the smaller C.E.V’s are a good solution assuming that you have a place to plug it in. (Not in the third floor room of my apartment though) Might be nice if some of that fat cash was spent on developing infrastructure to support a realistic fossil fuel conversion agenda.

  15. @ ZuZu, I don’t know what people have against Ford, but when did Ford get a “bailout”? When did Ford go bankrupt? Ford has spent the last 3 to 4 years restructuring to become profitable. In fact Ford had a profit of $70 million last year, if I recall correctly. In the future please consider that Ford is not a complete shit company taking government money.

  16. I’ve been a fan of Tesla for a while, and I’m glad to see they’re getting a bit of backup from the government. However, I will say that I’m not that happy with Tesla’s customer service. When I first heard about the Model S, I called to see about checking one out – they were going to have a prototype out here in Manhattan for a launch party – and was told that I’d be on the list to see it. However, nobody ever got back to me, and my calls were never returned. If they expect people like me to sink $7k into a car deposit on something I haven’t even seen yet, I think their Check Engine light is on.

  17. I love the looks of this car. It’s not one of those over the top designs, and looks mainstream enough to be a hit. I like the fact that it’s made here as well.

    Car Parts

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