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The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) is questioning why Department of Energy (DOE) loan funds are not paying out as planned. The participation hurdle is high, and there’s about $16.6 billion in green vehicle loan appropriations going unused, the GAO found.
The funds come from DOE’s 2005 Loan Guarantee Program and its Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program from 2007. These programs were a directive from Congress, but now House and Senate lawmakers on the powerful appropriations committee are hearing about the programs stalling out. The GAO report also told legislators that the DOE hasn’t “closed on a loan or loan guarantee or conditionally committed to do so under either program since September 2011.”
The GAO had interviewed applicants for the loan programs to evaluate the DOE’s performance and found that it the “costs of participating outweigh the benefits.” Those costs include a “lengthy and burdensome” application and review process and lots of documents needed to apply. The failure of the solar energy company Solyndra was also mentioned as making participants skittish about working with DOE and the Obama administration. It’s not just green car money that’s sitting unused. There is $34.8 billion left in various renewable energy project loans, but here, at least, there are 13 “active” applications.
The DOE might be finished issuing funds through the programs automotive. While the funds don’t have an expiration date, DOE says it will continue to receive applications and it doesn’t plan to use the remainder of the appropriated funds.
Ford, Nissan, Tesla and Fisker did receive ATVM program funds. Tesla is doing well enough to pay the loan off early but Fisker had its funding cut short and is not in a good position to pay it back any time soon.
By Jon LeSage
A recent report indicates that there’s a dark and shadowy secret just waiting to wreck havoc on Tesla Motors: a federal probe into whether, as the conservative Washington Times puts it, “the automaker was using foreign instead of American parts in manufacturing their electric vehicles.” Tesla has openly said it uses Panasonic battery cells, for example, so the need for a probe is not quite clear.
According to a PDF that the Times says comes from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation, ICE asked the Department of Energy for documents about the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program on December 5, 2011. There are lots of “may” and “possibly” phrasings in the memo, and it reads like someone saw a mention on the DOE website about a “buy American” requirement and went fishing for information. The DOE responded on December 22 that “the $465m Tesla loan was not appropriated through the Recovery Act of 2009. The $465m Tesla loan was actually appropriated through Public Law 110-329 and does not have the buy American requirement,” adding that “The DOE [Office of Inspector General] would not be investigating this matter any further.” For some reason the Times concludes that the memo, “provides no information on how, or whether, the customs probe concluded.”
A Seeking Alpha contributor notes that the ICE:
is still proactively investigating whether Tesla is using its foreign trade zone status to bypass the so-called “loan requirements.” A foreign trade zone facilitates the creation of certain areas at or near customs port of entry where products can be imported without standard import duties and customs entry procedures. Tesla’s application for a “subzone” within San Jose’s foreign trade zone was approved in September. ICE is neither affirming nor denying an investigation. Also, Tesla has made no mention of this investigation in its SEC disclosures.
He add that he’s not worried about a negative impact on TSLA stock or the company based on the investigation. For the record, Tesla’s official statement is as follows:
We have not at any time been made aware of an investigation regarding this issue by ICE or any other governmental agency. It is customary for car manufacturers in the United States to use imported parts and we have openly indicated throughout the development of Model S that we purchase certain parts, like the cells used in our battery pack, from foreign suppliers.
Related Gallery2012 Tesla Model S: First Drive
As Tesla hopes to repay its DOE loan five years ahead of schedule, the American electric automaker will be delaying production on the Model X for at least a year.
Tesla originally was on schedule to repay its $465 million loan by the end of 2022, but announced earlier that it now has a target date of repaying the loan by the end of 2017. Unfortunately, those that are eager for the Model X to hit the market will have to be patient, as Tesla now plans on starting production of its electric crossover to late 2014.
SEE ALSO: Tesla DOE Loan Repayment to Finish Years Early
The Tesla Model X was originally slated to begin production later this year, with deliveries beginning early 2014. However, Tesla is also putting more focus on its surprisingly popular Model S, hoping to deliver 20,000 units of its sedan this year. With more focus being placed on the Model S and repayment of the loan, the Model X will just have to sit back and wait its turn.
GALLERY: TESLA MODEL X
[Source: LA Times]
Discuss this story at Tesla-Buzz.com
By Jason Siu
Tesla Chief Elon Musk says his company will repay its US Department of Energy loans within five years, Automotive News reports. That’s way, way ahead of the 10-year deadline the electric-vehicle maker was originally given to pay back the $465-million loan it got from the feds.
Musk says better-than-expected results are responsible for cutting the planned payback time in half, something that had been talked about late last year. Earlier this month, Musk said the first-quarter of 2013 will be Tesla’s first profitable one. The company, which recently ramped up to its full production capacity of 400 Model S sedans a week, delivered about 2,400 of them during the fourth quarter, making it the fourth most-popular US plug-in car in that time frame.
Tesla will evidently speed up its repayment with no thanks to the The New York Times, which caused an uproar when it reported that the Model S’ single-charge range was far less than advertised. Musk disputed the report, which was then called into question by other publications and the Times’ own public editor. Musk estimated that the original article cut Tesla’s stock value by as much as $100 million and may have swayed “a few hundred” into canceling orders for their new electric car.
Related Gallery2012 Tesla Model S: First Drive
By Danny King
We’re willing to bet there are bottles of champagne popping all the way from Washington, DC to Palo Alto, CA today with the announcement that Tesla Motors has, as suspected, paid off the entirety of its $465-million Department of Energy loan.
“I hope we did you proud” – Elon Musk
As far back as July 2012, Tesla began talking about paying the US government back early, but it was apparently the tremendous rise in the company’s stock value recently that prompted CEO Elon Musk to push for the immediate repayment this week. From a price of $33.87 on January 1, TSLA has climbed to $87.24 today (down a bit from the recent highs of over $92). Last week, Tesla sold enough stock to raise over a billion dollars to repay the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loan, with interest. This makes Tesla the first automaker to pay the DOE back, and it did so nine years ahead of schedule. In a prepared statement, Tesla CEO Elon Musk thanked the DOE and Congress and “particularly the American taxpayer from whom these funds originate. I hope we did you proud.”
The DOE is certainly proud, issuing a release that said the repayment “shows the strength of energy department’s overall loan portfolio.” The DOE has come under fire recently for the loan it gave to Fisker Automotive. Two other ATVM recipients, Nissan and Ford, have not yet paid all theit money back, but there are no apparent worries there, either. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a statement that, “not every investment will succeed” but that the DOE’s overall $34-million loan portfolio of more than 30 loans “is delivering big results for the American economy while costing far less than anticipated.” Details in the press releases below.
Alongside the positive news in the recent shareholder call that Tesla Motors held recently, there is this bit of news that will help us understand the company’s financial picture: the company confirmed that the first Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program loan payment is due in December and hinted the first payment might come early. The company previously announced the December due date in May.
Over on the Tesla Motors Club forum, one member noted that, “The DOE loan agreement was amended to require Tesla to set up a restricted cash account for the first three repayment installments. Those amounts are shown on the balance sheet. During the conference call, Elon intimated that he might make the first installment that is due in December early.” Tesla would not give out an official statement on the matter, but you can listen to Tesla CEO Elon Musk and CFO Deepak Ahuja discuss timing and loan repayments here and see the balance sheet here.
Back in 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy approved a $465-million loan to Tesla to build the Model S and work on its all-electric powertrain. As of the end of the second quarter of 2012, Tesla says, it has an “additional $33 million left to draw on our loan facility with the DoE. We drew down $71 million from our DoE loan facility in Q2. Our relationship with the DoE remains strong and we remain on track to draw all remaining funds in the next few months.”
Now that the DOE money is coming to an end, Reuters reports, Tesla might try to raise “a small amount of money” to cover things like development of new vehicles, including the Model X and “a smaller sedan code-named Gen III in 2015,” the fabled Blue Star.
Related GalleryTesla Model S
As expected, Tesla has repaid its government loan nine years early, becoming the first American automaker to have paid back the government.
Originally awarded a loan by the Department of Energy in 2010, Tesla sent over $451.8 million today to repay the full loan with interest. The loan was originally granted as a milestone-based loan and as part of the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program.
SEE ALSO: Tesla Aims to Repay Government by Wednesday
The payment made used a portion of the approximately $1 billion raised in Tesla’s offering of common stock and convertible senior notes. Elon Musk, Tesla CEO and co-founder, purchased $100 million of common equity.
“I would like to thank the Department of Energy and the members of Congress and their staffs that worked hard to create the ATVM program, and particularly the American taxpayer from whom these funds originate,” Musk said. “I hope we did you proud.”
Discuss this story at Tesla-Forums.com
By Jason Siu
Elon Musk, Tesla’s ever enigmatic CEO, announced over Twitter that the company will likely repay its government debt by Wednesday, May 22.
“Given govt loan repayment this week (prob Wed), Supercharger update will be next week. Work continuing independent of announcement,” Musk said through his Twitter account yesterday.
SEE ALSO: Tesla Offers $450M in Stocks, Musk Buys $100M Worth
A Tesla spokeswoman confirmed to Reuters that he was referring to repaying the Department of Energy loan.
Last week the company announced that it would use $452.4 million from a bond and stock offering to repay the loan in full with interest.
Discuss this story at Tesla-Forums.com