Tesla repays government loan early, a boost for electric cars

Tesla is proving that a U.S. electric car company can succeed. It paid off a $465 million loan nine years early.

Tesla Model S
Tesla Model S Tesla

In what could be viewed as a shot in the arm for U.S.-made electric cars, Tesla Motors has repaid a government loan nine years early.

"Today, Tesla Automotive repaid the entire remaining balance on a $465 million loan from the Department of Energy nine years earlier than originally required," the U.S. Department of Energy said in a statement Wednesday.

That clean-energy loan was made in 2010.

And the U.S. energy secretary, Ernest Moniz, seemed to address critics of clean energy loans while trumpeting the success of Tesla.

"When you're talking about cutting-edge clean energy technologies, not every investment will succeed," Moniz said in a statement. "But today's repayment is the latest indication that the Energy Department's portfolio of more than 30 loans is delivering big results for the American economy while costing far less than anticipated."

The fate of another U.S. electric-car maker, Fisker, is much less certain. Founded in 2007, Fisker has raised $1.2 billion in private funds, but the company has halted payments on a U.S. Department of Energy loan.

Tesla's soaring stock price is the reason for the quick payoff. As of Wednesday, Tesla's market cap is over $10 billion, and the share price is up more than 150 percent this year through Wednesday.

Tesla's hottest car so far has been the Model S, which it began delivering to customers earlier this year. The company has a sales target of 21,000 this year. The lowest-priced model retails for about $60,000.

"I would like to thank the Department of Energy and the members of Congress...that worked hard to create the [Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing] program, and particularly the American taxpayer from whom these funds originate," Tesla CEO Elon Musk, said in a statement.

"I hope we did you proud," he added.

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