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UPDATED: The Independent reported that Ireland’s state-owned utility, the Electricity Supply Board invested $20 million in electric car startup Tesla Motors. Update: Actually ESB’s investment wasn’t made directly into Tesla, but was made into a clean technology fund managed by VantagePoint Venture Partners, which is one of Tesla’s major investors, VantagePoint confirms with us this afternoon. VantagePoint says that some of those funds could have gone into Tesla. The news comes on the heels of an announcement that the Irish government has set out to have electric vehicles make up 10 percent of all cars on its roads by 2020.
What is an Irish electric company doing backing a small-scale luxury automaker in Silicon Valley? We are working to get more details from ESB and Tesla, including when the investment was made. Update: ESB’s investment was made in “recent months” says a VantagePoint spokesperson. VantagePoint Venture Partners is already a major investor in Tesla.
We do know that the utility has held talks with electric vehicle infrastructure developer Better Place and perhaps this move to fund the lately cash-strapped company could mean Tesla’s technology could play some role in electrification of Ireland’s fleet — if not through the high-end, low-volume Roadster, then potentially through components for the electric vehicle industry that the 2020 initiative is meant to kick start. That could only be good news for Tesla, which according to CEO Elon Musk, has created a profitable powertrain supply business within the still-unprofitable company.