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Tesla CEO: With loan repayment, U.S. taxpayers made $20M profit off us

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Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney can now eat his campaign words — at least the part where he called Tesla a loser. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in an interview with Bloomberg TV Thursday that now that Tesla has repaid the entirety of its loan to the Department of Energy, plus interest, U.S. taxpayers have actually made a $20 million profit off of Tesla.


That’s a telling metric for all of Tesla’s former haters, as well as recently converted fan boys. Tesla still has hurdles ahead of it as an independent auto maker, but the company has made it through the Valley of Death and emerged with its first quarterly profit in a decade, and a hot electric car that’s sold out for months.

In contrast, electric car maker Fisker Automotive, which took a loan from the same government program that Tesla did, could reportedly be sold for $20 million, and still owes the government $171 million. Check out my comparison piece: Tesla, Fisker, and what could have been: A tale of two electric car startups.

8 Responses to “Tesla CEO: With loan repayment, U.S. taxpayers made $20M profit off us”

  1. David

    I would remind everyone who finds DOE loans disagreeable that tax expenditures to boost oil company revenues – that is, reduced taxes relative other businesses – is a $6-7 billion give away every year. That is the worst type of loan – guaranteed 100% loss annually to huge, highly profitable companies for their campaign donations.

  2. Fisker was worth $2.2B until the DOE pulled their loan. They were also maker 100M in revenue per quarter (2x what Tesla was making) until the DOE pulled the loan and shut them down. Thanks Mitt for messing that up & thanks President Obama didn’t for not having the guts to push the DOE on the loan so that Fisker would be the success that Tesla was. Tesla would do well to buy Fisker and put out the Karma & Atlantic… the oil companies are working hard to prevent this…

  3. PrincetonAl

    Does that “$20MM Profit” include several billion in losses? Let’s not declare it a taxpayer profit until we look at the portfolio.

    And it still shirks the question of why? Why did the government need to do this? Could an entrepreneur like Elon gotten a loan elsewhere at a fraction of the cost to taxpayers that subsidizing a bunch of heavy campaign donor-backed companies cost?

    Elon is a true and successful entrepreneur. He doesn’t need the government to make it, and he doesn’t need to be lumped in with a bunch of shady, donor-bought lemons either.

    • Lyndon Allydice

      Doesn’t the fed have a history of investing in things when there’s a shortage of private capital going into it or if the fed thinks it’s important. It seems like there’s some stratgic value in helping along electric cars if he reduces our reliance on oil imports, and if it helps the US win a piece of that market going forward.

      We have invested in coal, oil, and gas in the past, and continue to put money into it. We invested in infrastructure that helped the auto industry.

    • dyota

      Perhaps the Clowns that started the Iraq war should repay that $6 Trillion dollar dept, No WMDs no nothing. Cmon, they payed the loan, Not a single dime has been paid on the Iraqi Corruption fiasco

    • dyota

      $20 Million, this is better than Iraq, For $ Trillion dollars spent there, Taxpayers only got a “Mission Accomplished” banner and a carrier deck landing Display