Tesla no longer owes the federal government a dime. On Wednesday the company announced it had repaid the outsanding balance of $451.8 million, with interest, on its 2009 Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan from the Department of Defense. That means taxpayers earned a very, very small $12 million profit on the loan.
"I would like to thank the Department of Energy and the members of Congress... and particularly the American taxpayer from whom these funds originate," Tesla CEO Elon Musk said. "I hope we did you proud." The company produced a quarterly profit for the first time in the first three months of this year, pocketing $11.2 million on $561.8 million in revenues. While Tesla started paying off the loan last year (company filings showed they paid at least $25 million back), the real reason it had cash around to pay back the loan was that last week it raised more than $1 billion in a stock offering. Tesla CEO Elon Musk advertised they would likely be paying back their loans in a tweet, of all places, he sent out on Monday:
Given govt loan repayment this week (prob Wed), Supercharger update will be next week. Work continuing independent of announcement.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 20, 2013
It's quite an accomplishment considering the fates that have befallen other green energy companies. The Department of Justice seized $21 million from electric car maker Fisker before the company went into bankruptcy after it received a $529 million loan guarantee in 2009. Battery maker A123 Systems spent $132 million of its $250 million guarantee from the Department of Energy before they bit the dust. That does not sound great, but the Department of Energy guarantees are actually creating jobs.
This might come as a shock to a number of Republicans who have criticized the Department of Energy loans. Sen. Chuck Grassley, Republican of Iowa, was one of the the Department's more vocal critics. "It would be noteworthy and even surprising if another high-profile loan recipient is able to repay its loans," Grassley told Bloomberg News last week. No word from him yet on Tesla's feat.