The Department of Energy has made it official: Tesla Motors will, in fact, get $465 million in government loans to fund its Model S sedan. Chalk another one up for founder Elon Musk's improbable dream of a mass-market electric car.
Having amply documented Musk's shortcomings, we must give him his due: It was no small feat to convince the federal government of Tesla's financial viability, given his firm's recent struggles with liquidity and shakedown of customers for more money. It also must have been tricky to sell the Model S itself, given that Tesla has been showing off a "barely ambulatory" prototype, in the words of the Los Angeles Times.
And yet there's Tesla, mentioned in the same breath as automotive giants like Ford and Nissan as recipients of federal largesse. DOE convened a press conference confirming anonymously-sourced reports that the three companies will share an $8.5 billion stimulus fund for fuel-efficient vehicles.
Daimler's recent 10 percent stake in the company no doubt helped. Now Musk just has to build a $100 million powertrain factory and deliver an affordable electric sedan in less than two and a half years — or hope his new investors are as flexible about such deadlines as the rich California environmentalists who have funded him until now.