Tesla Motors Inc. said it paid off the entire balance of its U.S. government loan given as part of a Department of Energy program to spur development of alternative energy vehicles.
“In addition to payments made in 2012 and Q1 2013, today’s wire of almost half a billion dollars ($451.8M) repays the full loan facility with interest,” Tesla said in a statement. “Following this payment, Tesla will be the only American car company to have fully repaid the government.”
Tesla’s statement prompted a protest from Chrysler (see next story) which paid back all its bailout loans to the U.S. and Canada in May 2011.
After the news, Tesla shares rose 6.4 percent to close at $92.85 a share. The stock price has skyrocketed 168 percent since it closed March 1 at $34.65 — driven by the company’s first quarterly profit and positive reviews of its Model S electric sports car.
“I would like to thank the Department of Energy and the members of Congress and their staffs that worked hard to create the ATVM program, and particularly the American taxpayer from whom these funds originate,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in the statement. “I hope we did you proud.”
The payoff of the government loan gives President Barack Obama’s green-energy strategy its biggest win after almost two years of failures that prompted regular outcries from many Republicans.
California-based Tesla paid off the loan nine years ahead of schedule, with taxpayers making at least $12 million on the original $465 million loan.
“When you’re talking about cutting-edge clean energy technologies, not every investment will succeed — 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,” U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a separate statement.
Tesla’s payoff may quell critics who said Obama shouldn’t have acted like a venture capitalist in picking green-energy companies to receive government loans and grants.
Republican lawmakers have held up the bad bets made on plug-in carmaker Fisker Automotive Inc., its battery supplier A123 Systems Inc. and solar-panel maker Solyndra LLC as examples of rewarding untested companies for political reasons.
“When they’re picking all these losers, it’s nice for them to have one where they can point to,” U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who held a hearing last month on Fisker’s loan, said Tuesday.
Jordan said he wants his House Oversight and Government Reform Committee panel to hold another hearing on Energy Department aid to electric-car companies and their suppliers.