Tesla Motors pays off $452 million owed to U.S. government

May 22, 2013 at 7:23 PM
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PALO ALTO, Calif., May 22 (UPI) -- Electric car maker Tesla Motors said Wednesday it has sent $452 million to the U.S. Department of Energy to pay off a loan it took out three years ago.

The payoff of the $465 million government loan, with interest, came nine years early, the Palo Alto, Calif., company said in a release posted on its website.

Tesla, which was founded in 2003, used a chunk of the approximately $1 billion it raised through stock offerings and convertible senior notes to pay off the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing 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," Elon Musk, Tesla's chief executive officer and co-founder, said. "I hope we did you proud."

The Obama administration has taken its lumps over loans to high-tech companies that have failed but Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said the government gets it right more often than not.

"When you're talking about cutting-edge clean energy technologies, not every investment will succeed -- but today's repayment is the latest indication that the Energy Department's portfolio of more than 30 loans is delivering big results for the American economy while costing far less than anticipated," Moniz said in a statement posted on the DOE website.

"More than 90 percent of loan loss reserve Congress established remains intact, while losses to date represent about 2 percent of the overall $34 billion portfolio. The other 98 percent of the portfolio includes 19 new clean energy power plants that are adding enough solar, wind and geothermal capacity to power a million homes and displace 7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide every year -- roughly equal to taking a million cars off the road.

"The department first offered loans to Tesla and other auto manufacturers in June 2009, when car companies couldn't get other financing and many people questioned whether the industry would survive. Today, Tesla employs more than 3,000 American workers and is living proof of the power of American innovation. This is another important contribution to what the Obama administration has done to preserve and promote America's auto industry."

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