Tesla Stepping Out

Tesla Motors files papers with SEC for future IPO.
Written by Harry Fuller, Contributor

Tesla Motors is going public. They have announced plans for an IPO, hoping to raise a $100-million. The company says it's sold over 900 cars so far, and has debt of over $200-million. It recently got a loan of near a half billion dollars from the Department of Energy under the Recovery Act.

Tesla Model S. Courtesy: CNET>

As CNET points out this is the third post-recession IPO move by a cleantech company. I blogged earlier that there seems to be a rising tide of interest and publicity around electric and hybrid cars. Electrics were featured at the recent Detroit Auto Show.

Is there a commercially viable market? Tesla must sense electricity in the air. The Model S lists at just under $50K. Each American buyer gets a $7,500 tax credit. You can reserve now for $5K which is refundable. Delivery in 2012. The second-generation Teslas going to retail customers will be the Roadster 2 which are due this summer. They sell for a nice round $101,500. Deposit is $40,000. Tesla began selling its original roadster in 2008.

It is a bold move by Tesla with just hundreds of cars actually on the road and auto-making majors seeming to be bent on self-immolation. Honda and Toyota both have quality problems right now. Chrysler is simply a brand for a European car maker. GM is still financially shaken, if not stirred. Several smaller Euro brands may go away. Nobody wants the Hummer. China and India are making their own cars and looking now to export. The Tesla is American-made but marketed worldwide. Can the electric cachet catch the eye of investors?

Tesla makes this case for itself in papers filed at SEC: ""We believe incumbent automobile manufacturers are at a crossroads and face significant industry-wide challenges... investments made by incumbent automobile manufacturers in manufacturing and technology related to the internal combustion engine have to date inhibited rapid innovation in alternative-fuel powertrain technologies."

Here you can see the list of investors who stand to recoup their dollars if the IPO sails. VCs like Draper Fisher and Compass Venture. Daimler of Germany. Individuals like Jeff Skoll and Sergey Brin. Here's more background on the company and its IPO. Big banks are underwriting this one. [poll id="219"]

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