Tesla Motors announced today that is has repaid the entire loan it received from the Department of Energy back in 2010. Oh, and we should probably mention it did so nine years ahead of schedule. That $451.8 million Tesla was on the hook for also includes all interest accrued in the three years since being granted the loan. Tesla will be the first to tell you that it’s the first American automaker to repay the government, too. However, we should point out that it currently only offers one vehicle, the Model S.
[UPDATE] Chrysler Group issued a statement claiming that Tesla wasn’t the first American automaker to repay its loan to the government. Technically, that accolade belongs to the folks in Auburn Hills. However, Chrysler’s loan came from the American auto industry bailout which was issued by President Obama back in 2009, while Tesla’s loan stems strictly from the Department of Energy. Chrysler Group was the first American automaker to repay the government after being bailed out while Tesla is the American first company (that just so happens to be an automaker, too) to pay back its DOE loan. So, in actuality, both Chrysler and Tesla are right. Trophies for everyone!
Elon Musk, who has led the charge for Tesla since its founding back in 2003, started the all-electric automaker with private funds from investors. Before calling upon the DOE for assistance, Tesla launched the Roadster, gave Daimler designs for an electric powertrain, and had the early design for the Model S. Since the loan, Tesla has won numerous accolades with its Model S (including sister publication Motor Trend‘s 2013 Car of the Year title), and is working on the Model X SUV. The aforementioned Model X has been delayed until at least next year though.
Tesla’s repayment of the DOE loan comes on the heels of the Model S-maker offering 2.7 million shares to the public. That resulted in around $1 billion in cash for Tesla ($100 million of that came in the form of common equity purchased by Musk) so it turned around and repaid the entire loan.
“I would like to thank the Department of Energy and the members of Congress and their staffs that worked hard to create the ATVM program, and particularly the American taxpayer from whom these funds originate,” said Musk in a statement. “I hope we did you proud.”
The people of Tesla should be proud, but they’re not out of the woods yet. Hopefully this is a good sign of things to come for the all-electric automaker.