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Tesla Motors files for $100 million IPO

The high-profile electric carmaker files papers to go public, betting that the environment is right to raise money in the burgeoning electric-vehicle business.

Tesla Motors filed papers to go public on Friday, betting the time is right to raise $100 million on the stock market from investors eager to get a share of the nascent electric-vehicle market.

The high-profile Silicon Valley company said it plans to use the proceeds from an initial public offering to continue manufacturing versions of its all-electric Roadster sports car and build the Model S, a luxury sedan.

With some IPO money, Tesla will make the Model S. Tesla Motors

In its prospectus, Tesla indicated that it has sold 937 Roadsters and made $93.3 million through the first nine months of 2009. Its balance sheet shows that it has built up a stockholder deficit of $230 million.

Tesla executives have talked about going public as early as 2008, but the poor financial environment over the past year and a half had derailed those plans. To date, the 7-year old company has raised money from venture capital firms and taken an investment from Daimler. In addition to making its own cars, Tesla intends to build powertrains for other automakers, including Daimler.

The move to go public follows the announcement last week that Tesla finalized a U.S. Department of Energy auto industry loan for $465 million, which is expected to be used to build a manufacturing facility for the Model S in California.

With the loan and proceeds of any IPO, Tesla anticipates that it will start making the Model S in 2012 and ramp up to 20,000 units by the end of 2013. The all-electric car, which will be offered with driving ranges as high as 300 miles, will cost $50,000, assuming a $7,500 tax credit.

Green-technology companies and investors are showing confidence in their ability to raise money from the stock market. Following the successful IPO of battery maker A123 Systems last year, solar company Solyndra also filed documents to go public earlier this month.