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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  1. M. B.

    Okay then...

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

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Okay then...

      Or one that's worth having.

    2. Rampant Spaniel

      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!

    3. Parax
      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!)

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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?

          1. Rampant Spaniel

            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.

      2. Tom 13

        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.

        1. Rampant Spaniel

          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 ;-)

          1. Rampant Spaniel

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

            and apparently 'off' spellcheckers lol.

  2. Pirate Dave
    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.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      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.

      1. Tom 13

        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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Pirate Dave
        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.

        1. Mad Chaz

          Re: Wow

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

          1. Beachrider

            @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.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              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.

            2. Tom 13

              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.

              1. Beachrider

                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...

    3. Maharg
      Facepalm

      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?

    4. Psyx
      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.

      1. s2bu
        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?

    5. fandom Silver badge

      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.

      1. Tom 13

        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.

    6. Piro

      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.

    7. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      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

      1. Francis Boyle Silver 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.

      2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        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.

  3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    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.

    1. Pirate Dave
      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.

      1. Nick Thompson

        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!

        1. Tom 38 Silver badge

          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"?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            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!

            1. Psyx
              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'...

          2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
            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).

          3. Thomas 4
            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.

            1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
              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.

              1. Psyx
                Thumb Up

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

                There's an ignore list?

                Sign me up!

                err... Not like that.

                1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
                  Thumb Down

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

                  "There's an ignore list?

                  Sign me up!

                  For some reason, this feature is only available to Reg staff, and "gold badge" holders.

                  Dunno why. Gaz said he'd ask Drew about it....

              2. Jamie Jones Silver badge
                Happy

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

                "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.

                ME! ME! ME!

        2. Tom 13

          @Nick Thompson

          1) An expensive car would be a $20,000 car that because of the new tech cost $40,000 instead. Not a $50,000 car that goes up to $90,000.

          2) Economics is about the efficient allocation of resources. Please tell me you haven't consumed so much of the Kool-Aid you think ANY government program is efficient.

          3) And as long as they do that without pilfering from the little guy first, I'm fine with that. But give point #2 above how exactly is it that you know the loan wouldn't have create 10,000 direct jobs elsewhere in the economy with even more indirect employees and worldwide shipping? Hell if OBozo would stop blocking the Keystone pipeline you'd have real investors willing to risk that kind of money you'd get at least the 10,000 person level of employment at no government cost at all.

          4) Stop projecting your own faults onto others.

      2. ZanzibarRastapopulous

        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.

      3. Psyx
        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?

      4. Jay Zelos

        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.

      5. Shasta McNasty
        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          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".

          1. Mike Moyle Silver badge

            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.

            1. Greg J Preece

              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.

          2. Psyx
            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.

        2. Tom 13

          Re: When TVs were first invented

          TVs, phones, CDs were all generate from private venture capital from people who had money they could afford to put at risk. These car loans are coming from people who are living paycheck to paycheck and could probably better spend that money if government weren't taking it from them under threat of physical violence for non-compliance.

      6. Anonymous Coward
        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.

      7. samlebon23
        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 ?

      8. Stevie 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.

    2. jphn37

      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.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: with GM's biggest problem being its finance business.

        I suppose I should say two out of three ain't bad, but that wouldn't be true. GM's biggest problem was not it's finance branch, and in fact has not been fixed even at this point. GM's biggest problem was and still is it's unfunded liabilities for retirement benefits. This has simply been papered over to protect The Big 0's union cronies.

    3. Tom 13

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

      Ford wasn't part of TARP. Technically, neither was Chrysler who were sold off to Daimler unless you're going all the way back to Reagan for the Chrysler loan (and that one was actually paid off with interest from profits). GM was the one that needed the most recent bailout.

      And TARP changed everything. Nobody is really putting their money where their mouth is anymore, because we now have a permanent expectation that if you are politically well connected, your losing bet will be protected by the government.

  4. Don Jefe
    Happy

    Nicer Than Expected

    I'm glad they were able to pay the loan back so quickly. It shows that investment in new things does work sometimes. If it was guaranteed everyone would do it but having a proof of concept is good stuff.

    On a side note, my neighbor took delivery of his S on Monday. I like it much better than I expected I would. We drove it into the city (DC) Tuesday and everything about it was cool. It is reasonably quick an has plenty of room inside and I'm pretty tall. I'm going to consider one when my current lease expires next Spring. Future models from Tesla and other manufacturers should make this available to a much wider market.

  5. John 104

    @Nick Thompson

    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?

    The government is not/should not be in the business of investing or making a profit. Period. Tax payers don't benefit from this particular loan because we won't be getting a check back for the money we loaned out (with interest). The powers that be will just spend it on something else. So, no, it isn't a win for us. Also, you can't compare this sort of thing to money for a tank a jet or whatever. Those things are national defence (somewhat...) and are for the greater good.

    That being said, good job Tesla for paying back and keep up the good work. The 4 door looks great.

    Also, this is a far cry better than Fiskar and the 5 billion that we wasted on that back scratching pay out.

    1. Hieronymus Howerd

      Re: @Nick Thompson

      So in your world, it counts as taxpayers' money when it goes out, but not when it comes in.

      Think it through before spewing it onto the page, there's a good chap.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The powers that be will just spend it on something else"

    Like a road, a school, a hospital, a fire station?

    "The government is not/should not be in the business of investing or making a profit. Period"

    That is an opinion rather than a fact. I'd argue it's exactly what a government should do.

  7. ItsNotMe

    The US government made about USD$26 million on the deal...

    ...but Tesla is still LOSING money on its car operation. USD$5.58 million to be exact.

    Yes...yes...I know...the COMPANY reported a profit recently...but the money they made was on the sale of pollution tax credits SOLD to other car companies, NOT on building & selling their cars. More fancy accounting.

    From: http://www.cnbc.com/id/100743955

    "If profits matter going forward, so does earnings quality. And according to Gradient Analytics, the earnings quality gets a grade of 'F."

    What stands out the most?

    "So many things," says Gradient research director Donn Vickrey."By declaring themselves profitable, I said there is just no way. How can this be at this point in the cycle? It has to be purely a paper profit and at that some elements of the paper may be lower quality than usual."

    Paper or not, Vickrey believes whatever Tesla's profitability, it isn't sustainable."

    And this from recently retired Ford Exec Mark Schulz...

    "“I look at these Teslas,” Schulz said. “They’re from Silicon Valley and they’re smarter than Midwesterners and all that good stuff.” But if Tesla has one safety recall, he said, “they’re done, they’re toast.” His own message was clear: Electric cars are far from being a mature technology, and many unforeseen problems could still throw them off course."

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-18/pushing-past-the-prius-toward-an-all-electric-car.html

    Caveat Emptor kids.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: The US government made about USD$26 million on the deal...

      No profit?

      FUD

      May 8th, 2013

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/abrambrown/2013/05/09/tesla-gives-surprise-profit-where-does-it-now-ranks-among-truly-expensive-stocks/

      The electric-car company yesterday reported its first quarterly profit. A whopping sum of…$11 million.

      < it IS you.

      1. ItsNotMe
        FAIL

        Re: The US government made about USD$26 million on the deal...

        Sorry Ace...but it is VOUS who are wrong. Try reading the articles before making any more of an arse of yourself...or can't you read?

        http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-05-08/tesla-posts-first-quarterly-profit-on-model-s-deliveries.html

        "Tesla had a loss from operations of $5.58 million, down from $88.8 million a year earlier."

        They did not make any money SELLING CARS.

        They made their money on "...Sales of so-called zero-emission vehicle credits to automakers Tesla didn’t name..."

        "Revenue from such sales will drop in the second and third quarters and there may be none in the fourth quarter, Musk said on a conference call."

        Also: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/hold-phone-tesla-didnt-profit-144000488.html

        1. ecofeco Silver badge

          Re: The US government made about USD$26 million on the deal...

          I'm pretty sure profit means, well, profit.

          Have you alerted Oxford and Websters that profit doesn't mean profit anymore?

          Ace.

          1. Tom 13

            Re: I'm pretty sure profit means, well, profit.

            Yeah, that's what Meatloaf thought too.

            Then he got screwed over by the record companies, had to declare personal bankruptcy. Fortunately he learned how to read the financials and contracts for his future gigs, but I understand it was a hellishly painful experience.

        2. Don Jefe

          Re: The US government made about USD$26 million on the deal...

          No car manufacturer (except high end exotics) gets the bulk of their profit from manufacturing cars. Most auto manufacturers make their money through financing to both the dealers and to end users. Their second big income source is foreign currency trading (in the 90's GM was the largest currency trader on the planet). Then you've got real estate holdings and financing. Then military engine contracts. Then parts. Then weird stuff like carbon trading and excess commodities liquidations. After all that you've got the cars. The actual pre-finance profit from a nice new family sedan is less than $1000.

          Automobile manufacturers operate more like a bank than anything else except instead of offering you checking and debit card services they offer you a car.

      2. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: The US government made about USD$26 million on the deal...

        ItsNotMe is claiming that's a one-off: the result of the selling of pollution credits. Let's see them repeat the feat in the NEXT quarter.

      3. 100113.1537

        $11 m profit, but only after $40 m "zero emissions credit"

        Read what the WSJ has reported about TESLA's results:

        http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324659404578499460139237952.html

        In 2012 other car makers paid Tesla $40 because in "zero emissions credits" - basically extortion money since electric cars are not zero emissions. Alrady this year, it is estimated at $85 m. However, this is expected to drop in 2014 as other companies push out their own electric cars. Now do you see why Tesla floated this spring and paid back their federal loan? They are toast once they stop getting the credit paid to them by other car makers - they will be shopping for another government loan which probably won't get paid back.

        1. fandom Silver badge

          Re: $11 m profit, but only after $40 m "zero emissions credit"

          "They are toast once they stop getting the credit paid to them by other car makers"

          You know it is kind of sad that your political views make you want for companies to fail so you can be proven to be right.

          But that's politics, proudly rotting brains for millennia.

    2. fandom Silver badge

      Re: The US government made about USD$26 million on the deal...

      Yes, they got some money selling pollution tax credits but you know, that's what happens when you start up a business, it grows little by little, you can't expect to make billions by the first year. In fact, pretty much nobody was expecting them to turn a profit so soon, tax credits or not.

      As for the current quarter, they have already said they won't be making a profit. They are going to start sending cars to Europe and therefore won't be getting the revenue as quickly as with those sold within Norh America.

      By the way, that Schulz reminds me of the RIM guys who, after the iPhone was first announced, accused Apple of lying as it was impossible for phone with such a large screen to have a battery that lasted more than a few minutes.

  8. Pirate Dave
    Pirate

    Wow-2

    I am very unpopular today.

    Let me state, just to salvage some small modicum of dignity, that what you Brits may not know is that we have thrown way too much tax money down the "find-new-power-technologies" rabbit hole, either in loans like this, or in straight-out grants/giveaways. Some of it, such as this loan to Tesla, was actually paid back or in some other way benefitted our society. Other of our dollars went to waste - http://www.ajc.com/news/business/georgia-ethanol-plant-sold-at-taxpayers-loss/nQP5m/ .

    But in either case, it was Congress gambling with large chunks of our money on private enterprises in an unproven area in search of what often turns out to be snake oil. Now, had they gambled on a company that had found a way to increase corn yield 5x, then maybe I wouldn't have griped. But to gamble on a company that SO FAR is only churning out luxury items is a bit much. And there is,( to my limited knowledge, admittedly) no guarantee or requirement that Tesla will ever produce vehicles of more moderate price. What if they get tired of playing the game in 3-4 years and decide to go chase some other rainbow instead of bringing an affordable car to market? We're all in tech, we've seen that kind of thing happen before.

    So there, that's my gripe. Please downvote away. I'm still waiting for the next BOFH episode like the rest of you lot.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Wow-2

      Study your history Dave. The US gov has been doing this since the beginning of the nation.

      You do know the very system that you are using to air this misguided gripe was first initiated by gov spending, right?

      You do know this?

      I can name a dozen KEY industries right off the top of my head that would not exist without gov spending starting them.

      And THAT is why you are being downvoted. You are like a fish that has no idea what water is.

    2. Triggerfish

      Re: Wow-2

      Jesus man there's a fine line between troll and stupid.

      Look lets put it simply.

      The government has invested in a car company, they've done that with a lot of others as well like GM and Ford, you know the guys not paying anything back. Tesla has actually done so with interest,

      This has meant that the car company has been able to invest - and in turn employ American people who also then end up paying back into the economy.

      Not only that but Tesla are now a step closer to working out car technology that will eventually become mass produced, once it becomes mass produced then it means that it becomes cheaper for all,

      So its a rich persons toy at the moment but it becomes useful for the people.

      Think of the car you drive now, a lot of the innovations you take for granted ABS, side impact bars whatever came from luxury car manufacturers like Mercedes and Lotus, the rich pay for these innovations eventually they trickle down. If the rich didn't pay for these then your base car would be more expensive or not as good as they are now, companies don't spend money to innovate for sheer joy the bean counters stop them.

    3. Thomas 4

      Re: Wow-2

      1) What exactly does an ethanol plant in Georgia have to do with an electric car company in San Francisco?

      2) *All* technology is unproven at one point, from the wheel to the atomic bomb. We build them. It costs money to build them. Without building them we cannot tell whether they will be a proven technology or not.

      3) A car that reduces the dependence on imported fossil fuels is bad thing? Whether its making any difference or not the climate is a moot point if it can also save a wad of cash for folks.

      4) You are correct in this regard. It's quite plausible that a company that has managed to make a profit on electric cars will stop making them and redirect the money elsewhere, such as Elon Musk's Alpaca Ranch.

      5) This is the bit that grinds my gears. You are complaining about what *might* have happened. It didn't happen. It is therefore irrelevant, at least as far as this specific company is concerned.

      6) Why thank you, I think I will.

      1. JC_

        @Thomas 4

        2) *All* technology is unproven at one point, from the wheel to the atomic bomb.

        Curiously enough, the uranium-based atomic bomb dropped over Hiroshima had never been tested. The scientists were absolutely certain that they'd got the design & calculations right and that it'd go off, which of course it did, but it still seems astonishing that they were so confident.

        1. Don Jefe

          Re: @Thomas 4

          There's a bit more too it. They didn't have a ready to go test bomb available. There was just enough material ready. The plans called for the plutonium bomb to be dropped in Hiroshima the next day in the event of a failure in order to hopefully eliminate the first dud. They felt there wasn't enough time to construct a test weapon and they had a plan if it didn't work: Plus as you say they were quite confident.

          1. Ken Hagan Gold badge
            Mushroom

            Re: @Thomas 4

            There's even more. Well actually, there wasn't. They didn't have enough for a fourth bomb until November of the same year. The US was briefly a nuclear power, then a non-nuclear power.

            Mind you, even if this had been public knowledge, only a fool would have called their bluff, since three months down the line you'd be toast. Actually, given the subsequent spy scandals, it is quite probable that the Russians *did* know, and weren't fools. Nukes, eh? Gotta love 'em. The only known mechanism for persuading even the most beligerent politicians and generals to get a clue.

      2. Tom 13

        @Thomas 4

        1) If you're claiming government profitability from Musk because of a government "investment" you have to count all the government "investments" before you tally the profit. Because that's how it works in REAL investment companies.

        2) Your point is completely irrelevant. The relevant point is government picking and choosing winners. Like they did with IRS tax exempt groups.

        3) If I could power a car with unicorn farts I could make a fortune. I don't have a supply of unicorn farts and you don't have supply of cars saving a wad of cash for anyone. In fact, you've got a lot of cars costing wads of money from tax payers who aren't necessarily rich, even if it is progressive to meet your perverted definition of fairness.

        4) ---

        5) No, you don't get to ignore bad results and only count good ones. Doesn't work that way at the blackjack tables either.

    4. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: Wow-2

      "Let me state, just to salvage some small modicum of dignity, that what you Brits may not know..."

      Yar, some of we Brits be tax-paying Americans, and yer dignity be already a-languishin' in Davey Jones's locker matey on account of ye be talkin' more like a tw*t than a pirate, so ye be.

      Yar!

      If ye be truly worried about yer dubloons bein' poured into a bottomless hole, ye need look no further than the tradition oil companies who be a-makin' record profits but still be demandin' enough public subsidy booty to split the bilges of a Spanish treasure galleon. Why, 'tis an open scandal what they be a-perpetratin' on the public purse.

      I remain, sir, yer obedient servant so I do,

      Twelve Fathom Stevie, scourge o' the Long Island Sound.

  9. Dan Paul
    Devil

    The US Government is Not a Non-Profit Organization

    <humor- If they were, the IRS would have likely denied it that status.-humor>

    It's difficult to make a profit as a government since there is always someone looking for a handout.

    Seems that Pirate Dave thinks we should sell government assets at a loss, (mineral & drilling rights, unused land, roads, buildings, radio & TV spectrum and other property etc) and not charge for government services where applicable.

    What about the infrastructure investments made by government in airports, highways, rail lines & subsidies flood prevention, funding for schools and education, etc etc etc. Do they have no benefit???

    Yeah, like the friggin "Robber Barons" will ever admit that they gain the benefit of all of that infrastructure. How about the Aerospace or Military Industries? Nobody actually spent their own money to start those businesses because they already got the government contracts before they spent a dime of their own money. What bank would say no after that?

    The space race did not on the surface improve the lives of the common man but the technology that spun off from it is the reason why we even have computers like we do today.

    I say the government should get top dollar wherever possible since someone or something has to pay for all the freeloaders.

    All I ask is that you don't ask me to pay (any more) for them and their ilk unless you let me claim them as dependents.

  10. John 104

    @ecofeco

    DARPA is a government entity, not a private business. THAT is the difference there.

    Government in the US is supposed to be for the people, not for the government. It is more and more becoming for the government and less for the people. As a tax payer, I'm sick of it. End the entitlements, end the back room deals, end the pork barrel spending which is just payback in a thin disguise. Put the government back to work as intended, a steward of the country.

    Go ahead and TD, if you don't live here you don't get it or don't care if you do. Keep looking at shiny things.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: @ecofeco

      See post above about fish and water.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So what was the interest again?

    Sorry, must have missed it in the article. I am sure it was a lot less than I pay.

    1. Hieronymus Howerd

      Re: So what was the interest again?

      That's your fault for not taking care of your own finances and living beyond your means.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So what was the interest again? LOL

        ROTFLMAO.

        My house is paid for, my cars are paid for. I borrow money for my toys. It is cheaper than reducing the money I put in my 401k, Employee stock purchase program etc..

        Maybe you should take a finance course.

    2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: So what was the interest again?

      I think I saw someone write $26m, which is about 5.2% if my sums haven't desterted me. Seems reasonable.

    3. Graeme Sutherland
      Holmes

      Re: So what was the interest again?

      Between 0.9% and 3.4%. Less than most people pay on their mortgages. I suspect that inflation would mean the US government made a loss on the deal too.

      I'm surprised Tesla repaid it, as it strikes me as being extremely cheap money. I can only assume it's a way of improving the company's apparent finances now that it's floated. But Musk is incredibly wealthy, whereas I'm not, so I suspect he's got a better idea than me. :)

  12. Spoonsinger

    Wow-3

    Gobbed smacked. Basically gov, (well US gov - which is just weird), backed scheme actually provides a tangible return on investment. Good job, well done at the financials.

    1. JC_

      Re: Wow-3

      And it happened despite Republican attempts to sabotage Tesla (they're not handing Obama a win without a fight!) by tying Tesla up in legal disputes in some of the states with Republican legislatures.

  13. SirDigalot

    The only real organization capable of funding research into what on the outset seems to be outlandish technologies that only make their way into rich peoples hands are in fact governments. They do not have to worry about the initial "my employees need to eat/live etc" like a purely private enterprise does, it can be years before any payback is even noticed, and by then it is usually achieved by a private firm who took the previous experimentation and government funded folly and managed to make it profitable. If governments do not fund stupid green tree hugging crap like solar, wind, electric vehicles potato batteries and so on, either directly or by way of subsidy, it will probably never be developed at all, this also includes the less popular but equally important evil nasty tree killing crap like nuclear energy, flinging rockets into space, and things that go BANG (often all three of those areas are combined) or inventing a wide area network of computers that would be absolutely useless to the public since no one owns or can afford anything that could possibly use it and even if they did what would they use it for?

    I am all in favour of my tax dollars going into research and funding private and government agencies that may, one day actually eradicate the need for me to earn a living and pay tax dollars (or make me live long enough to see that day I am not fussy really as long as I do not look like a deaf blind raisin in a wheelchair)

    1. Don Jefe

      Actually private investors have plenty of cash available but large institutional investors don't like risk. They want a sure thing so they basically force government to advance the state of things. Otherwise the already wealthy would still have us riding in horse drawn carriages and using telegraphs to communicate. Those two industries alone took a lot of fighting to put down.

  14. Donald Becker

    Good point. Tesla is making money on selling pollution credits. They wouldn't have been profitable last quarter without that revenue.

    Or, I should say, that government-forced money transfer that represents the worst in policymaking idiocy. And everyone that's looked at it admits that it's somewhere between deeply flawed and just plain stupid. Yet, because it doesn't cost the government directly, just forces private companies to shuffle money, there no motivation to fix it.

    On the other hand, the Tesla loan was a justifiable investment in a technology the could be economically viable with reasonable assumptions about energy prices and expected advances. It's fair to disagree, but most people think it's reasonable.

    Solyndra proves that the U.S. government can pick an obviously wrong technology even when they invest in the right concept. Even if you don't philosophically agree with this type of government investment, you shouldn't be so stuck in saying "it's always wrong" that you lose the ability to say "this is the wrong technology".

    I think that Tesla has done an amazing job. I expected that they would be able to build a working power plant. I never expected that they would be able to design and manufacture a mass production vehicle without a decade of expensive experience.

  15. Albert Stienstra

    The EV will be a rich man’s toy for decades

    The Tesla Roadster is a nice looking, nippy machine. With 1200 kg it is quite heavy, due to the battery weighing in at 450 kg. However, it is a toy, as many commenters have already said.

    If you run the little two-seater sedately at 60 mph like a family saloon, it will give you a range of 200 miles. However, if you run it like the sports car it was derived of, say at 100 mph, the range is only about 70 miles. Then the battery is empty and needs charging, which will take some 8 hours on a 3 kW socket. If you force charge at double rate or more, you will bring down battery life from about 500 deep discharge /charge cycles to half of that or less.

    For the environment it is not much of a boon; it needs to be driven 80.000 miles to break even with the emissions of a petrol car, taking into account production/recycling emissions of especially the battery. By that time you almost need a new battery and the whole cycle starts again.

    Technology-wise there is not much that can be done about this. It is only the battery that needs to be much improved and unfortunately its development does not follow Moore’s law. In 100 years batteries evolved from lead-acid of 20 kg/kWh to 9 kW/h Li-ion, about a factor 2. Only a radical breakthrough with new materials might bring a step change. Most likely it will be decades before the EV will become a mass market item. Until then it remains a rich man’s toy with low range and very high cost.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: The EV will be a rich man’s toy for decades

      Ever heard of Honda, Toyota or Nissan?

      They have under 30k electric cars right now. For sale. To you.

      1. Albert Stienstra

        Re: The EV will be a rich man’s toy for decades

        Those cars have very short range and are expensive for what they offer. They are NOT mass products

  16. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    Envy!

    Imagine any organisation in the public sector or financed in part or in whole with tax money saying something like this:

    “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 Manufacturing] program, and particularly the American taxpayer from whom these funds originate. I hope we did you proud.”

    In the UK our people with livelihoods funded in part or in whole by public money tend to keep quiet and hope no one rumbles them?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Musk is a class act

      Yup. I give Mr Musk a very big +1 .. He is a class act.

  17. Rick Giles
    Trollface

    I smell...

    Reganomics....

  18. pete8314
    Meh

    There's a lot of negativity here.

    For starters, the DOE payback was essentially funded by all the stock shorters that ran out of time and had to bail. Sure, it's funny money, but expertly played by Musk and co. A lot of people bet against Tesla, gambled, and lost. Luckily in the case, the US government got it right.

    Why are people so against innovation in the US? There's less and less thing that the West can do better than China, but building cars - electric ones at that - is potentially a massive market where the US can lead the world. Why is that a bad thing?

    The Tesla business plan very clearly outlines that the GenIII model will compare to the BMW3 series and other similarly priced cars. To get to that point, the company needs to make money, and develop the technology. The Model S will be the worst car they ever make, yet, according to nearly every single review around, it's one of the best, if not THE best. Musk is making plenty of money, but his goal is to make EV's prolific, ideally with a Tesla badge on them, but not necessarily.

    Disclosure: I own a Model S, an long on a very small amount of stock, am not rich, am not a tree-hugger, and am a Brit living in the US.

    1. No, I will not fix your computer
      Boffin

      >>There's less and less thing that the West can do better than China, but building cars - electric ones at that - is potentially a massive market where the US can lead the world. Why is that a bad thing?

      I don't know if it's cynicism or realism, but China is already doing well in the US car market, just look at parts supplier "Brillance", better than the US offerings and a fraction of the cost, there's no real challenge in the "whole car" market, but given China is typically 25 years behind Japan (and that gap is shortening) we'll see a whole new bunch of products, possibly even "whole car" pretty soon.

      And on a slightly different tack, China has two advantages, firstly they are happy to use/improve other innovation and secondly, rather contraversially the cheap labour, availability of critical resources (rare earth) and occasionally dubious lack of regulation means getting to market cheaply and quickly - far faster than the West.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: China has two advantages,

        You forgot their third an most important one:

        Their government doesn't really care how many people they kill getting it done.

        I don't see that as a good thing.

    2. Tom 13

      Re: Why are people so against innovation in the US?

      It's simple:

      against government funding of private corporations =/= against innovation

      And that won't change no matter how many times you and Herr Himmler assert its reverse.

    3. Rick Giles
      Pirate

      "Why are people so against innovation in the US?"

      We're not against innovation, we just don't want Barry to have an distinguishing or positive marks on his (illegal) presidency.

      If the car costs more than $25K, then it is out of my price range.

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        illegal? You mean because he didn't manage to buy his way in with dodgy court decisions and a lower % of the popular vote than his opponent then proceed to destroy the economy ;-) Aye, he is a bit dodgy if you look at it like that! :-) I heard he's also black, first it was the sherrif now potus, whatever next!

        If you ever get some time read Barry's unofficial biography. It's absolutely hillarious. It's written by some goon who hates pretty much everyone but it is a great window into a very disturbed individuals mind (the authors that is).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          * AND

          I feel I must take this opportunity to remind illiterate morons that the word "and" has a letter 'D' on the end of it.

  19. Tom 13

    Sorry Mr. Musk, but I'm not impressed. In fact I'm not even happy about this.

    If you had paid it back from profits then I would have been impressed.

    I'll grant I would have been happy about this BT*, but we are now AT**. So I don't see that I'm not still at risk for getting my wallet lightened if your business suddenly starts to falter. Not exactly your fault, but that's where we're at.

    *Before TARP

    **After TARP

    1. Don Jefe
      Facepalm

      Re: Sorry Mr. Musk, but I'm not impressed. In fact I'm not even happy about this.

      There's a saying in business & accounting: Profit = Profit.

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