A cynic might suggest that Tesla Motors is little more than the automotive equivalent of a dot.com company.
They might also point out that the funds it appears to have been capable of first borrowing from, and then paying back to the US taxpayer are at best opaque, and at worst hollow to the core.
It does seem somewhat extraordinary, after all, to discover that such a relatively new and unknown car company has been able to generate sufficient funds to pay off such a huge loan nine years earlier than expected.
The fact that Tesla Motors has also raised some $900m this month alone in stock and debt offering deals, and is expected to raise a further $100m using the same process within the next week or so, does make you wonder, or at least want to ask: where is the actual money coming from?
But here’s a thing: Tesla motors may still seem like a relative unknown entity here in the UK, but in the USA it is selling cars – expensive cars, such as the £50-80k Model S – faster than it can build them.
So fast, in fact, that, according to data supplied by one independent US company, the Model S has very nearly outsold the Mercedes S-class, the BMW 7-series and the Audi A8 during the first quarter of this year. Which, if true, is quite astonishing.
According to LMC Automotive, Tesla Motors sold some 4750 Model S cars in the first quarter of 2013. During the same period, Mercedes shifted just 3077 S-classes while BMW sold 2338 7-series and Audi sold 1462 A8s.
Naturally, this has sparked all sorts of robust defences from the major German manufacturers, Audi North America issuing a “figures not fair” style release on its website (which was subsequently and very quickly removed).
Whatever the protestations of the establishment, the bottom line would appear to be that Tesla Motors is here to stay – so much so that it has been busy courting pretty much anyone who’s anyone within the design and engineering departments of the European car industry.
I know of at least six top engineers and designers in Europe who have been offered and declined “a ridiculous” amount of money to join Tesla during the past two months, and one who has already said yes.
One thing’s for sure. Others, many others, are bound to follow suit, in which case Tesla Motors will only get stronger, and quickly, as a result. Next stop, the moon. And no, that’s not exactly a joke either.