Labeled “Losers” by Romney and Palin, Tesla Motors Pays off Government Loan 5 Years Early

Saturday, May 25, 2013
Tesla Model S 2013

Electric automaker Tesla Motors has paid off its loan to the federal government long before it was due, thrilling its supporters and officials in the Obama administration, while proving its Republican detractors wrong.


During the 2012 presidential race, both Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin labeled Tesla a “loser” and a bad example of President Barack Obama’s investment in alternative energy projects.


The U.S. Department of Energy loaned the company $465 million in 2010 to help continue its development of high-end, electric-powered cars, like the Model S luxury sedan.


According to Elon Musk, Tesla’s co-founder, the company had another five years to pay the government back (while the Energy Department claimed the number was actually nine years).


Instead, it fully paid off the debt this month, thanks to a surge in its stock price. "Having accepted taxpayer money, I thought we had an obligation to repay it as soon as we reasonably could," Musk told The Wall Street Journal, “If economics were the only consideration, we would not have done this.”


“The reason the loan is being paid off is not because of vehicle sales,” Patrick J. Michaels, a director at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, told The New York Times.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Tesla’s Early Loan Repayment Earns Praise From Energy Department (by Tina Casey, Energy Collective)

In a Plus for Electrics, Tesla Repays a Big Federal Loan Early (by Peter Eavis, New York Times)

Electric Car Startup Tesla Repays U.S. Loan (by Joseph White, Wall Street Journal)

Tesla a success for federal loan program (by David Baker, San Francisco Chronicle)

North Carolina Law Would Force New Cars to be Sold through Dealerships (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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