When Tesla Motors launched its all-electric Roadster sports car, celebrities lined up to order one — including Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Now we hear he's been trying to return it for months.
Like Detroit, cash-strapped Tesla is currently a supplicant to the government, counting on money earmarked for alternative energy to carry it through its trying times. In other words, a good time to have a political celebrity in their corner, right? Alas, no.
Schwarzenegger frequently cited Tesla as an example of California's nascent green industries in speeches in previous years, and appeared with Tesla CEO Elon Musk at various events. But he's been quiet on the subject lately. With good reason. Two sources close to the company say Schwarzenegger aides have been talking to Tesla since at least the fall about returning the Governator's Roadster. Given the company's financial troubles, Tesla executives asked them to hold off, fearing bad publicity.
Tesla, the troubled Silicon Valley electric-car startup, has been struggling to come up with financing for production of its planned Model S sedan, a prototype of which will be unveiled tomorrow in Los Angeles. The company nearly ran out of cash last fall, and cancelled plans for a car factory in San Jose. It is currently pinning its hopes on winning loans from the Department of Energy, but that is far from a sure thing — and the loans themselves, in a bit of a catch-22, are granted based on the recipient's financial viability.
So why doesn't Schwarzenegger like the Roadster? Built on a Lotus Elise body, the car is not easy to get in and out of, especially for someone with the former bodybuilder's robust frame. "He's more of a Hummer guy," one tipster tells us.
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)