Tesla Motors is reported to have joined Detroit’s Big Three in applying for US government aid to secure its future.

The Silicon Valley electric car brand is understood to have requested $400 million from the US energy department to fund two projects, the details of which have not been disclosed.

It’s the latest setback for PayPal founder Elon Musk’s automotive firm, which recently made nearly half its staff redundant and lost a lawsuit against rival brand Fisker.

The request for aid has stirred up controversy in America, where analysts have accused the firm of using the crisis to try and ‘hive off’ funds.

Tesla has very few employees and the one car it produces is sold only in small numbers and is unaffordable to most consumers. General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are asking for a share of government soft loans totalling $25 billion. The loans are meant to fund future green technology for the three automotive giants.

Will Powell