Tesla Motors Raises $82.5M Series F, Charges Up for Global Buildout

Electric car startup Tesla Motors, which just snagged a $465 million loan from the Department of Energy, has done it again — raised capital, that is. The San Carlos, Calif.-based company has pulled in $82.5 million in a sixth round of private equity financing, according to a Bloomberg report from the Frankfurt Motor Show this morning.

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London-based Fjord Capital Management led the round, which Tesla CEO Elon Musk said “was an opportunistic investment.” This time around, the startup was “not looking for money,” but the funds will be used to support international buildout of Tesla retail stores, which the company has previously said will be expanding to several European countries.

Rather than following the more common dealership franchise model, Tesla uses showrooms modeled after Apple stores to show off its vehicles, bring in deposits, make sales and eventually service the cars. The stores don’t come cheap, since Tesla targets high-income customers in upscale real estate markets like Manhattan, Los Angeles and London.

As of November 2008, Tesla had raised some $145 million, including $55 million from Musk himself, and burned through most of it. After being unable to raise another $100 million on the terms it wanted (partly due to the credit crunch), Tesla raised $40 million in convertible debt financing from existing investors. But 2009 has been more favorable for Tesla’s financial situation.

In addition to the DOE funds, this latest round of investment comes just four months after Germany’s Daimler AG bought a 10 percent stake in Tesla for $50 million as part of a new strategic partnership (Daimler later sold part of that stake to Abu Dhabi-based investment group Aabar Investments), and it’s on the heels of Tesla’s first reported month in the black. Tesla recently announced it achieved “overall corporate profitability” for the first time ever in July, with $1 million profit on $20 million in revenue, including, according to Tesla spokesperson Rachel Konrad, “a small percentage of revenue from technology sales,” as in the Daimler deal.

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