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February 28, 2013

After a Passel of Poor Publicity, Tesla Vows to Pay Back DOE Loan Early



Elon Musk – CEO and product architect of Tesla Motors, chairman of SolarCity, and CEO and chief designer of SpaceX (News - Alert) – is known for introducing transformative technology at warp speed. Now, he intends to break another time barrier: At the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit in Washington D.C. this week, Musk announced he will pay off Tesla’s Department of Energy (DOE) loan in roughly half the time required under the terms of the financing.

Appearing on-stage at the summit meeting with Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Musk said Tesla plans to pay off the $465-million federal loan the electric vehicle developer received in 2010 by 2015 rather than 2020. Referring to the vilification of the DOE after the September 2011 bankruptcy of solar company Solyndra – which received a $528-million federal loan – Musk said it was only reasonable that the Administration should win acclaim for success stories such as Tesla.

Tesla’s Model S is an innovation of current electric cars on the market, reportedly bringing battery power and energy efficiency, among other things, to the highest they’ve ever been in the budding electric vehicle industry.

The announcement comes at a time when Tesla could use some positive publicity. In his appearance at the summit, Musk revealed that the Silicon Valley-based automaker had lost as much as $100 million in market valuation as a result of a recent clash with The New York Times. Following a negative review of Tesla’s all-electric Model S car by John M. Broder on February 8, Musk burned up social media sites in a tit-for-tat rebuttal of the writer’s claims – accusing “The Grey Lady” of faking the results of an East Coast road test.

For its part, the Times stated the story was a candid and truthful account of what happened on the drive.

Several months before the review, in November 2012, the Model S was named Motor Trend's 2013 Car of the Year, one of the automotive industry's most coveted awards. To take top honors, Model S garnered a unanimous vote from the panel of Motor Trend judges and guest judges, considered among the savviest and toughest critics in the industry.

This is the first time in Motor Trend's memory that every judge was in unanimous agreement.

The company made its first payment of nearly $13 million in December. A second payment is due to the DOE in March.




Edited by Braden Becker

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