back to article 'Leccy car biz baron Elon Musk: Thanks for the $500m, taxpayers...

Electric car manufacturer Tesla has paid back a government loan of half a billion dollars almost a decade earlier than expected. Tesla CEO and co-founder Elon Musk said: “I would like to thank the Department of Energy and the members of Congress and their staffs that worked hard to create the [Advanced Technology Vehicle …

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Okay then...

...now get on to making a car I can actually afford and you can have some of my dollars back!

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JDX
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Re: Okay then...

Or one that's worth having.

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Re: Okay then...

If you cannot afford an electric car now you couldn't have afforded a 'horseless carriage' when they were in their infancy. As much as I detest the current crop of electric cars and the people who think they are actually 'green', this loan was an example of the government making a shrewd investment that put America at the forefront of development. Not only do you have a pretty solid company but you got paid back with interest. Sure it might not have worked out, but that is part of making any investment. Trying to turn this into a bad thing massively damages your credibility. How about you focus on companies buying senators and getting them to grant unconstitutional immunity like the Monsanto rider? Let alone throwing tax breaks to companies off-shoring jobs, thats better than making a loan to a company that creates jobs?

I would hope that massive strides will be made in electric vehicles, we need to look at the whole process and make sure they actually achieve their aims. We need clean power to charge the batteries, we need ecologically safe batteries that don't cause just as much damage (strip mining for ore, processing and disposal) as burning petrol would, they need significantly better capacity and to be able to charge faster not to mention lifespan. Lets hope thats round the corner!

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Alert

Re: Okay then...

They are getting on with it.... Just have to wait for the Model X... that will be the more affordable model.

Perhaps Tesla should consider re-applying for the loan and getting the X out faster... the S is not your average man's motor but it is selling surprisingly well..

Seems the US is far keener on electric cars than us Brits. Even with the price of petrol over here! Are us Europeans falling behind? The percentage of new cars that are electric is way higher in the states than it is in the UK. and why not? Electric cars have great performance, just need to fix the refill time issue. I think the 'Volt' electric car with a backup engine is a great idea though, can't fault that idea. (Volt sales in US: 31,000 in UK: 550, That's a significant difference!)

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Re: Okay then...

There is far more needs improving than just recharge times. The current battery technologies are simply not up to the job. They are expensive and harmful to the environment which are supposed to be the two areas electric cars win out. That's leaving aside how we currently generate our electricity being harmful as well. If they are going down this route as opposed to a synthetic carbon neutral fuel then they need a battery with significantly higher capacity for its weight, faster recharge times and a longer life.

What good is a battery pack thats expensive, needs replacing every 5-7 years and is damaging to the environment to produce and recycle\dispose of. There isn't even a political win, most of the batteries are sourced abroad. When an electric car has a 300 mile minimum range, can recharge in under 5 minutes and costs no more to buy, run and maintain than a petrol car and doesn't destroy the environment they will have a winner. Assuming we aren't still burning coal in the power stations.

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Re: Seems the US is far keener on electric cars than us Brits.

If you are getting your impressions from media coverage I suppose you might get that impression. The actual people in the US aren't as demonstrated by the abysmal sales numbers for electric cars, even with huge government subsidies. Most of what I know about actual UK thinking I get from El Reg comments an certain news site blogs, so I don't know about actual British thoughts on electric cars. They might well be more interested in them than the UK press is.

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Re: Seems the US is far keener on electric cars than us Brits.

Perhaps memories of Lucas put us of any kind of electrics in a car ;-)

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Re: Seems the US is far keener on electric cars than us Brits.

and apparently 'off' spellcheckers lol.

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Anonymous Coward

@Rampant Spaniel

Yes thats right All electric cars fall apart after 5 years.. keep drinking Clarksons kool-aid...

But just two questions:

A battery that has 20kg of lithium in it when new has how much left when the battery is 10/20 years old?

If you recycle an old battery containing 20kg of lithium into a new battery that needs 20kg of lithium how much mining do you need to do?

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Re: @Rampant Spaniel

I didn't say it fell apart, I said it needed a new expensive battery pack. As for the lithium I said it was damaging to mine, refine AND RECYCLE so what's your point or did you just not read my post.

We need a replacement to petrol powered combustion engines, nimh / liion batteries aren't it right now. Hopefully that will be addressed.

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Pirate

Wow

I didn't realize we taxpayers had funded research into an electric car that most of us can't afford. Toys for rich tree-huggers? Thanks for being good stewards of our tax dollars, Congress.

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Unhappy

Re: Wow

Thanks for being good stewards of our tax dollars, Congress.

The article says it was paid back with interest. So you made money on the deal. If only the UK government could pull off a trick like that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wow

How do you think a technology will get to the mass market, if not through an expensive niche first?

See mainframe computing.

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Pirate

Re: Wow

Fine, then let them develop without endangering taxpayer dollars. Had they defaulted on this loan, the taxpayers would have lost quite a large sum of money on absolutely nothing.

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Re: Wow

You seem to have missed the point that the money thrown at/given to car manufactures and wall street is yet to be given back, and unlike that waste/investment these toys for rich tree huggers have made a return, and profit, quicker than expected, what kind of economics do you subscribe to where this is a bad thing?

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FAIL

Re: Wow

"I didn't realize we taxpayers had funded research into an electric car that most of us can't afford. Toys for rich tree-huggers? Thanks for being good stewards of our tax dollars, Congress."

I'm not hearing you bitch about them buying tanks that you don't drive, nukes that never gets used and rockets launchers that you aren't allowed to fire. You seriously have a problem with your government making a loan which has been repaid early but not with a trillion dollar war, bailing out your banks and bailing out your motor industry? Talk about picking your priorities poorly.

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Re: Wow

Like gas powered cars that were toys for the very rich until Henry Ford came along.

You may have a problem with the rich paying through the nose to beta test the technology we will all be using in a few years, but I certainly don't.

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Re: Wow

You mean how all the BIG car compagnies still haven't payed it back? Think your money was better invested there?

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Re: Wow

Uh, it was paid back. With interest. The taxpayer didn't lose out. They not only gained in the literal sense with interest, but in the fact it funded a currently successful and innovative business that is helping employ designers, engineers, and all of their suppliers.

That's pretty much the definition of a good, old fashioned investment.

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Re: Wow

If only people stopped wasting money on all this technological research we could get on with the job of harvesting nuts and berries and hunting bison

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@Chaz

If you are talking about George Bush's TARP program (Obama expanded it), then the taxpayer made money on the Car companies.

That money was also paid back early with interest.

Clearly, the car companies wouldn't have been able to get ANY terms for money, other than the Gov't.

It did save jobs. Stock owners of the old companies took quite a haircut, though.

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WTF?

Re: Wow

Maybe because those subjects are off-topic? So what, every time somebody has a problem with one thing they're supposed to give a complete list of everything they have a problem with?

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Re: @Chaz

Only by the standards of some very "Hollywood accounting".

Some car companies paid back their TARP "loan" only by not including the majority of the TARP that was paid to cover debts and losses by divisions and pension funds that were turned into separate companies and spun off to the government.

According to the TARP inspector general "The most recent cost estimate for TARP is a loss of $60 billion. Taxpayers are still owed $118.5 billion (including $14 billion written off or otherwise lost)."

It's a bit like the UK government claiming to make a profit on Northern Rock if you don't count the billions in bad debt that weren't part of the sell off.

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Re: The article says it was paid back with interest.

They said the same thing about our supposed investment in GM. That was a lie too. If Musk's bet starts to fumble, I expect there will be yet another bailout with my pocket getting picked for it again.

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Re: You may have a problem with the rich paying through the nose

I've got no problem with the rich buying whatever they want to with their money (check my posting history). I have an objection to somebody picking my pocket to finance a high risk venture to create those toys. If Musk had done it wall with venture capital from those rich who want the toys I'd have fewer problems. If we hadn't had the bailouts [ (Chrysler + GM) and TARP ] at the point where it was all venture capital I wouldn't have any problem with it at all.

Okay, I might point at the tree huggers and make fun of them, but I wouldn't actually have an objection about how they spent their money.

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Re: talking about George Bush's TARP program

George may have been forced to sign the papers, but it was a Democrat plan all the way. With The Big 0 making all of the important decisions about how it was spent.

There was crap W did that I didn't like. In fact bending over for the Dems on this issue is one of them. But I do recognize that he was acting in what he deemed an honorable fashion. He deemed that he lost the argument about what government was supposed to do when the Dems took over both houses in 2006, so he should implement their fiscal policy. I said then and maintain now that policy was a huge mistake. But I don't fault the man for trying to uphold his personal code of honor.

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Re: talking about George Bush's TARP program

Three things on this 2008-topic:

1) TARP, in general still has outstanding receivables. The automobile aspect is closed and made a profit. There is NO doubt that automotive TARP rendered loans to companies that otherwise-wouldn't have gotten them. That WAS the point of the program.

2) Causality timeline. Obama wasn't elected until November 2008 He didn't take office until January 2009. TARP was constructed in the dark days of September/October 2008.

3) TARP was vastly for real-estate and banking interests. THOSE interests did NOT perform as well as the automotive ones. There is NOTHING particularly Democratic about real-estate or banking.

Interpret how you like, but don't get too dizzy spinning this...

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Bronze badge

Re: Wow

As long as you hunt the bison by the traditional method of stampeding them over a cliff. This spear development programme is a waste of nuts and berries.

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Re: Wow

"If only people stopped wasting money on all this technological research we could get on with the job of harvesting nuts and berries and hunting bison."

As long as you hunt the bison by the traditional method of stampeding them over a cliff. This spear development programme is a waste of nuts and berries.

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Thumb Up

Note that difference *loan* (with interest) versus old car maker (2nd or 3rd) bailout.

And note investors put their money where their mouths are and bought a chunk of Tesla.

It does not look like anyone was queuing up to be more shares of either Ford or Chrysler.

So the US taxpayers government puts out a load of cash and gets it be back with interest.

I'd call that thumbs up.

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Pirate

Re: Note that difference *loan* (with interest) versus old car maker (2nd or 3rd) bailout.

No, the US taxpayers made a loan for developing a vehicle that does little, if anything, to improve the life of the average American, but is, instead, a plaything for rich folks. This is not the same as funding development for mainframe computers or putting a man on the moon or even developing new ways to turn corn or algae into ethanol. This is entirely and totally a toy.

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Re: Note that difference *loan* (with interest) versus old car maker (2nd or 3rd) bailout.

1. The car after next will be a cheaper car. To get started the needed to make an expensive char while the technology was being developed (and therefore pricy).

2. The taxpayers got their money back with interest. Why do you care how the government invests if they are making a profit on it?

3. Even if they only ever make cars for rich people, they employ 3000 people directly and more indirectly through suppliers. Providing a boost to the economy. Shipping world wide means a bigger market and an improvement in the trade stats for the US. Also they'll pay tax on any profit (if they don't use tax avoidance of course).

4. Wah wah wah waaaaaaaaaaah!

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Bronze badge

Re: Note that difference *loan* (with interest) versus old car maker (2nd or 3rd) bailout.

Well, they don't need your cash now anyway so you can quit whining.

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Flame

Re: Note that difference *loan* (with interest) versus old car maker (2nd or 3rd) bailout.

"No, the US taxpayers made a loan for developing a vehicle that does little, if anything, to improve the life of the average American, but is, instead, a plaything for rich folks. "

And so were telephones when first developed. And cars. And CDs. So clearly they weren't worth developing, either.

Let's go sit in a sodding mud-hole because you don't understand technological filter-down, shall we?

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Re: Note that difference *loan* (with interest) versus old car maker (2nd or 3rd) bailout.

So back in the 50's, the average American used a mainframe at work and in the 60's went to the moon on vacation?

The technology from these things improves over time and trickles down into our daily lives, that's how cutting edge stuff works. The potential for improvements in batteries alone would be worth investing in.

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Re: Note that difference *loan* (with interest) versus old car maker (2nd or 3rd) bailout.

Yes, because that's what we want, governments chasing profitable investments..

Do you not see something hypocritical about the home of capitalism giving state aid to private enterprises that do not benefit the common good? Yes, this was a loan that they have paid back (in part) and not a subsidy, but it was a loan that banks would not give.

Why does this company, which is only making toys for rich people, and has no publicized aims of producing energy efficient electric cars for the masses, deserve state aid? Should the criteria for giving state aid, "will we make our money back"?

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FAIL

Re: Note that difference *loan* (with interest) versus old car maker (2nd or 3rd) bailout.

The loan was not 'paid back (in part)' it was paid back IN FULL, WITH INTEREST.

Read the article, its not hard to understand!

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Trollface

@Tom 38

"Yes, this was a loan that they have paid back (in part)"

I'm guessing that the people objecting didn't actually rtfa. Most loans require payback in installments, so the remainder of the balance (plus interest) is what they just paid back.

You seem to be dragging down the average IQ on this site all on your lonesome (plus the others that don't understand that advancing a new technology means economies of scale and cheaper designs in the long-run).

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Happy

Re: Note that difference *loan* (with interest) versus old car maker (2nd or 3rd) bailout.

I tip my hat to you, Pirate Dave. At long last we have a strong challenger to Eadon for El Reg's "Tool of the Year" award. I have complete faith that you are up to the task.

Moving along, it is nice to see a big business actively giving something back to the economy. Between Tesla and Space X, Elon Musk may actually restore a little of my faith in capitalism.

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WTF?

Re: Note that difference *loan* (with interest) versus old car maker (2nd or 3rd) bailout.

@Pirate Dave

The US government has invested and made a profit (win). Now Tesla can churn out electric cars that will get cheaper with each generation and increase in uptake (another win).

When TVs were first invented, they were very expensive and only owned by a few. Now the vast majority of people on Earth have at least 1 of them. New technology is never cheap when it is cutting edge.

I just don't get what you're complaining about.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Note that difference *loan* (with interest) versus old car maker (2nd or 3rd) bailout.

Musk has said him ultimate ambition is to build a $30,000 electric car. Getting the Model S off to a good start seems the best way of realizing that ambition.

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Silver badge

Re: Note that difference *loan* (with interest) versus old car maker (2nd or 3rd) bailout.

"I just don't get what you're complaining about." (to Pirate Dave).

The clue is in Pirate Dave's rambling on about "the common good". That's lefty speak that can be fairly translated as "any cause not associated with my economically illiterate, luddite and socialist beliefs".

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Re: Re: Note that difference *loan* (with interest) versus old car maker (2nd or 3rd) bailout.

@Ledswinger

"That's lefty speak that can be fairly translated as 'any cause not associated with my economically illiterate, luddite and socialist beliefs'."

Actually, I read it as a Libertarian "I've got mine; fuck you," anti-government, anti-tax-that doesn't-benefit-me-right-now screed.

...probably just goes to show that either: A) the inarticulate fringe at both ends of the political spectrum are almost indistinguishable, or; B) we all see the boogeyman that we expect to see.

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Megaphone

Re: Note that difference *loan* (with interest) versus old car maker (2nd or 3rd) bailout.

"... or putting a man on the moon...."

You mean putting a man on the moon with a Moviola ?

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Coat

Re: Note that difference *loan* (with interest) versus old car maker (2nd or 3rd) bailout.

"Read the article, its not hard to understand!"

It is if the reader is a moron.

Just sayin'...

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WTF?

Re: Note that difference *loan* (with interest) versus old car maker (2nd or 3rd) bailout.

"That's lefty speak that can be fairly translated as "any cause not associated with my economically illiterate, luddite and socialist beliefs".

No it's not.

Learn to recognise your own: He's moaning because it's not of direct benefit to HIM.

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Re: Note that difference *loan* (with interest) versus old car maker (2nd or 3rd) bailout.

Actually, I read it as a Libertarian "I've got mine; fuck you," anti-government, anti-tax-that doesn't-benefit-me-right-now screed.

I'm not sure you've fully grasped this "libertarian" bit.

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Silver badge

Re: Note that difference *loan* (with interest) versus old car maker (2nd or 3rd) bailout.

"This is not the same as funding development for mainframe computers or putting a man on the moon or even developing new ways to turn corn or algae into ethanol. This is entirely and totally a toy."

Because the moon landing wasn't just a political stunt, the effort abandoned just as soon as practicable after those gosh-darn rooskies had been put in their place, and ethanol has been such a contention-free addition to the energy diet of the nation and not at all a way for farmers to suck on the public teat while at the same time not be able to accurately state how expensive their crops are to produce so the sums can be done?

Time was a digital watch was a toy for the rich.

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Re: Note that difference *loan* (with interest) versus old car maker (2nd or 3rd) bailout.

Just a factual clarification. Ford didn't take bailout money. Chrysler and GM did, with GM's biggest problem being its finance business.

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Happy

Re: Note that difference *loan* (with interest) versus old car maker (2nd or 3rd) bailout.

"I tip my hat to you, Pirate Dave. At long last we have a strong challenger to Eadon for El Reg's "Tool of the Year" award. I have complete faith that you are up to the task."

Eadon, Matt Bryant and Pirate Dave all have a number of Tool like qualities but none have made my ignore list as they (infrequently) have made valid points, on certain subjects.

There is one however whose comments I have found completely ignorable without any sense of lost viewpoint or useful information.

A sort of "Universal tool" if you will. But to name them is to honour them and they don't deserve that either.

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