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Tesla  Cash strapped: Investment in the Model S sedan is the reason Tesla is unprofitable, says CEO Elon Musk.

Cash strapped: Investment in the Model S sedan is the reason Tesla is unprofitable, says CEO Elon Musk.

Investors buoyant about Tesla’s future with strong response to public offering

TESLA Motors’ drive to become a significant global player in the burgeoning electric vehicle industry received a massive financial boost this week when it raised $US226 million ($A267.5m) after becoming the first car-maker in more than 50 years to launch a public share float.

The Californian-based electric car company, which has never posted a profit but is set to launch in Australia next month with the Tesla Roadster EV, increased the number of shares in its initial public offering (IPO) by 20 per cent – to 13.3 million – prior to trading on the Nazdaq Stock Market on Monday, and offered them at a higher-than-expected $US17 each.

That has not deterred investors, however, with the share price climbing to more than $US30 in the first few days of trading before settling back to around $US21 at the end of this week.

This remains well above the IPO opening price and will enable Tesla Motors to proceed with its ambitious plans, which company chief executive Elon Musk – who personally sold 1.42 million shares this week – revealed a week ago as including a raft of new all-electric models, including an SUV, cabriolet and even a commercial van.

These models will all spring from the same platform as Tesla’s forthcoming Model S sedan, now due to be built in the US from 2012, and were included in a ‘road show’ presentation to potential investors Mr Musk conducted in the lead up to the IPO.

It has also emerged this week from the Reuters news agency that Mr Musk used the presentation to emphasise that Tesla would remain a dynamic and innovative company more akin to Google than GM.

“We're a Silicon Valley company, closer to an Apple or a Google than to a GM or Ford in the way we operate, the DNA, the operating system of Tesla,” Mr Musk was quoted as saying. “I don't think that's something that GM or Ford is going to be able to replicate – ever.”

Tesla center imageFrom top: Tesla Roadster, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, former vice-chairman of global product development at General Motors, Bob Lutz.

Mr Musk has also reportedly dismissed the plug-in Chevrolet Volt as “not very exciting” and indicated that that if Bob Lutz, in his previous capacity as GM product chief, were to call up and say GM was keen to buy Tesla, his reply would be: ‘You can’t afford it.’

In response, Mr Lutz, who has previously admired Tesla and is now being reported as a potential new product czar for Lotus Cars (the manufacturer, incidentally, of the current Tesla Roadster), told Reuters: “So far, all of Tesla's shortcuts have failed.

“They seem to hold the usual Silicon Valley view that that region is the sole repository of brainpower in the United States and everyone east of the Sierras is a dim-witted dinosaur.”

Mr Lutz, 78, is understood to be in the frame to become an adviser for Lotus as it embarks on a five-year turnaround plan, which will include developing its range-extending hybrid engine for series production.

The latter was confirmed this week after being shown at the Frankfurt motor show in March in the Lotus Evora 414E sportscar and Proton’s Emas plug-in hybrid compact.

Nonetheless, the vote of confidence in Tesla from investors was plain for all to see with its performance on the Nazdaq this week as the stock market in general was plummeting.

Tesla’s existing investors include Daimler AG, while Toyota Motor Corporation announced in May that it intends to purchase a $50 million stake in the company.

According to Bloomberg, Tesla has also secured $465 million in US government loans to expand production and sales of EVs and components, with the terms of the agreement requiring Mr Musk and other senior executives to retain at least 65 per cent of the company’s shares.

“A lot of people were puzzled about why we were going public without profits,” Mr Musk told reporters outside the Nasdaq building in New York’s Times Square this week.

“The reason we are not profitable today is because we are in the midst of expanding with the Model S.”

Tesla’s IPO was the first by a US car-maker since the Ford Motor Co in 1956.


Tesla  Cash strapped: Investment in the Model S sedan is the reason Tesla is unprofitable, says CEO Elon Musk.





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