Tesla Motors said recently that by year’s end it will begin to pay back low-interest loans to the federal government, making it the first startup to fulfill
this requirement of the Obama administration’s “ATVM” program.
Short for Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing, the ATVM program loans were awarded in 2009 for interest rates ranging between 0.9 to 3.4 percent to advanced-energy firms that promised products that used little or no gasoline.
Tesla along with Fisker Automotive, Ford and Nissan was among recipients, and the maker of the pending Tesla Model S received $465 million.
The company is down to $104.5 million of this as of March 31, according to Bloomberg. This will be used up by the third quarter of this year, and Tesla’s Chief Financial Officer Deepak Ahuja said repayments begin December.
“We are delivering on the milestones, what we’ve committed to,” Ahuja said to Bloomberg on Sunday. “Once we are delivering customer cars, then that signifies completion of the project.”
Tesla has used much of the money for development of the Model S and renovation of the former GM-Toyota joint-venture NUMMI plant in Fremont, Calif., where production will take place.
It had hired around 600 workers for this facility as of April, and plans are for 1,200-1,500 to be on the payroll by the end of this year.
Tesla has also received investments from Daimler and Toyota, and supplies battery packs and electric vehicle motors to these companies.
Of companies that received money under Obama’s program, Tesla appears closer than most to making good, and the jury is still out on some, while others have utterly failed like solar panel maker Solyndra.
Bloomberg noted presumed Republican nominee Mitt Romney has decried the loans as “crony capitalism,” along with a raft of other right-leaning political commentators.
Advanced-tech vehicle advocates – who may happen to be right-leaning, left-leaning, or somewhere in the middle politically – have said the loans are necessary to break the dependence on fossil fuels with the sundown on their horizon being in clear sight.
Tesla will also exceed expectations by beginning deliveries of its Model S around a month early. It had initially said it would start with the premium 85-kwh versions in July, but this has been accelerated to June.