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Tesla Repays Government Loan Nine Years Early

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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

Tesla Aims to Repay Government by Wednesday

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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

By Luke Vandezande

Top 10 Most Collectible Cars of 2013

10. Ford Focus ST

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Interested in nabbing yourself a future collectible? Hagerty Insurance specializes in classic cars and is predicting the top 10 most collectible cars of 2013 that are under $100,000.

Listed based on the vehicle’s MSRP, the Ford Focus ST kicks off the list in the number-10 spot with a starting price of $23,700. Powered by a 2.0-liter, turbocharged engine with 252 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque, the American automaker’s hot hatch is an undeniable bargain at under $25,000. Hagerty believes its performance and price will make it an attractive collectible in years to come.

SEE ALSO: 2013 Ford Focus ST Review – Video


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By Jason Siu

Tesla Makes First Profit: $11M in Q1 2013

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Tesla has formally announced its first quarter 2013 results, reaching profitability for the first time in the American electric automaker’s 10-year history.

According to the report, Tesla generated a profit of $15 million excluding non-cash warrant and stock option items. Its GAAP profit was $11 million, and a total of 4,900 vehicles were delivered in the first quarter of 2013.

SEE ALSO: Tesla Talking with Google About Autopilot Systems

The numbers are impressive for the electric automaker, with record sales of $562 million, up 83 percent from last quarter. Over 5,000 Model S cars were produced during the first quarter, undoubtedly contributing to the successful sales figures. The automaker recognized 4,900 units as revenue and exceeded its Q1 guidance of 4,500.

Looking into the future, Tesla hopes to build 5,000 Model S vehicles in the second quarter with some being exported to Europe starting in Q3. North America will see around 4,500 Model S vehicles delivered in Q2 while the automaker ramps up production in hopes of exceeding 20,000 deliveries by year’s end.

Discuss this story at Tesla-Buzz.com

By Jason Siu

Top 10 Most Fuel Efficient Luxury Cars

10. (TIE) 3-Series Hybrid, Mercedes E400 Hybrid, Infiniti M35h, Buick LaCrosse/Regal eAssist: 29 mpg

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Who is to say that luxury car buyers aren’t affected by high gas prices? If you want to drive in comfort, style, and have the latest high tech goodies in a car, you shouldn’t have to pay more at the pump for it. Here are our picks for the top 10 most fuel friendly luxury cars, ranked in order of their combined city/highway mpg numbers.

Quite a few luxury cars hit the 29 mpg mark combined. The most impressive of the bunch is the Buick LaCrosse, which manage to get solid fuel economy, despite its bigger size. The Infiniti, Mercedes and BMW vehicles make do with a high-power pairing of a six-cylinder engine and an electric motor, which gives the end result of over 300-hp.

The Buicks use a mild hybrid system called eAssist which pairs a 2.4L four-cylinder engine with a conventional automatic, and a compact lithium ion battery to get its impressive fuel economy numbers.


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By Sami Haj-Assaad

Tesla Roadster Buyback Program Launched

Early adopters of the Tesla Roadster who may now be eyeing the American automaker’s more practical Model S can now trade in their convertible sports car towards a new sedan.

Tesla will buyback old Roadsters from current owners and resell them at its own stores, giving others an opportunity to own the electric convertible. Only 2,500 Roadsters were made since it first hit the market in 2008 and used ones will be much cheaper than the original $109,000 price.

The trade-in value for the Roadster will be based on its condition after the automaker takes a detailed look at the used vehicle. Though Tesla hasn’t released what it expects to buy back the vehicles for, it did estimate that a 2010 Roadster with around 2,900 miles will be resold for $93,500; while a 2008 model with 31,000 miles will be around $73,300.

Even better news though is that some Roadster owners may actually get money back if their vehicle is valued higher than the Model S they’re opting for.

“Someone who couldn’t reach all the way to a Roadster before, now may be able to get one at a lower price,” said Tom vonReichbauer, Tesla’s director of finance. “We’re able to set what I think are pretty competitive prices for these cars.”

[Source: SF Gate]

By Jason Siu

A Detour on the Road to an Electric Future

The Tesla Model S at Norwich Public Utilities in Connecticut. John M. Broder/The New York Times The Tesla Model S at Norwich Public Utilities in Connecticut.

When I embarked on a test of Tesla’s new East Coast electric vehicle charging network, I did not expect to become a rate-paying customer of Norwich Public Utilities, a small municipal electric provider in Norwich, Conn. But my Tesla Model S was running dangerously low on juice and I needed a quick fill-up to make it to the Tesla Supercharger station in Milford, Conn., about 60 miles away.

The Norwich utility, taking advantage of a grant from the Energy Department under President Obama’s 2009 stimulus package, recently installed four medium-power electric-vehicle charging posts at its customer service center. But they haven’t proved terribly popular.

Jeanne Kurasz, programs coordinator for the utility, said that only five people had applied in the last year for the electronic cards needed to activate the J1772 chargers, which work on most electric vehicles, including the Tesla.

When I walked into the service center looking for a few amps for the Tesla, I had to fill out a form to establish an account so I could be billed for the electricity the car would draw. When I returned to the car after a little more than an hour of charging, I found a note from Ms. Kurasz saying that the company would forgo the charge if I’d return the electronic card. I had drawn 8.4 kilowatt-hours for a total cost of about $1.36. It would have cost more to prepare and mail the bill and keep me as a customer — I live in a Maryland suburb of Washington — than the billing was worth to the utility. In a follow-up telephone conversation, Ms. Kurasz expressed some skepticism about electric vehicles, based on the sparse use of the charging station as well as the utility’s experience with battery-powered vehicles.

She said the company owned a Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid and a Ford Transit Connect van converted to run on battery power alone. The Volt, she said, drove perhaps 30 miles before switching to its gasoline engine, which then generates the electric power that turns the wheels. The Ford van, which promised 100 miles of range, got a fraction of that and could not complete a day’s work before having to be plugged in. “It wasn’t good for what we purchased it for, so that was a disappointment, and then the company that did the conversion went bankrupt,” she said. “So, O.K.”

The company powers much of its day-to-day fleet with compressed natural gas, which she says is clean, quiet and cheap.

“That’s a success,” she said. “If you want to talk about alternative fuels for transportation, C.N.G. is more successful than electric.”

Certainly my trip along Tesla’s East Coast electric highway proved disappointing — my high-tech Model S test car ended up stranded off Interstate 95, requiring a flatbed truck to get to the Supercharger in Milford. You can read the entire account of the trip here, and post your comments below.

By JOHN M. BRODER

Tesla Model S Resale Value to be Industry’s Best, Says CEO Musk

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Last month, Tesla made a splash by offering a resale value guarantee on the Model S, stating it would be higher than that of a Mercedes-Benz S-Class. However, Tesla is upping the ante by offering the best resale value of almost any luxury auto maker.

Buyers of the Tesla Model S will now be guaranteed that their car’s resale value will be higher than that of BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Lexus or Jaguar. Residual value is expected to be at least 50 percent over 36 months.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk made the announcement in a conference call today and acknowledged criticisms of last month’s announcement regarding the brand’s somewhat creative finance calculator.

“We appreciate the feedback from a number of journalists and customers that the first version of our financing product wasn’t quite right,” said Musk. “They were right, so we are fixing it and, moreover, upping the ante by providing the best resale value guarantee in the automotive industry. The Model S is rated by Motor Trend, Automobile Magazine and many others as the best car of 2013, so it should naturally therefore have the highest resale value.”

This change will be applied retroactively to anyone who is financing the Model S, from when the guarantee was first put in place back on April 2nd. Tesla also announced that longer financing terms will also be available for buyers. Financing terms have been extended to 72 months to pay off a Model S.

Discuss this story at Tesla-Buzz.com

By Sami Haj-Assaad

Tesla Model S Named 2013 World Green Car of the Year

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Luxurious, powerful and laden with cool technology, the Tesla Model S adds yet another accolade to its crowded mantel today by winning the World Green Car of the Year Award at during the New York Auto Show.

Equipped with an 85 kWh battery — the largest available — it is supposed to offer up to 265 miles of range. Power is sent to the rear wheels with up to 443 lb-ft of instantly delivered torque in the performance model.

Aside from its luxury interior appointments and relatively understated style, standout features include its massive touch screen infotainment system the size of two iPads and the ability to update its system through a 3G connection.

2013 New York Auto Show Complete Coverage

That’s especially important with the Model S because it means the company can affect how the car behaves without requiring owners to bring their cars in for service.

Tesla competed against the Renault Zoe – a a five-door electric car – and the Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid for the title.

Discuss this story at GasStinks.com

By Luke Vandezande

Tesla Flagship Store Opens in Canada

Luxury EV maker Tesla opened one of its boutique stores in Canada to the public today, marking the brand’s first location in the country.

The first official store in Canada, the outlet is located in the newly opened wing of the Yorkdale Shopping Center in Toronto, Ontario.

Following the same philosophy as its other 24 storefronts in North America, Tesla isn’t aiming to sell cars to those who happen to wander in during a shopping excursion. Instead, it aims to educate people on electric cars and what it, as an automaker, offers consumers.

A staff is always on hand take grazers through a series of tutorials designed to show what going electric is all about. Tesla sales vice president George Blankenship was on hand today to talk about the company’s current product and the brand’s goals for its flagship Canadian location.

SEE ALSO: Tesla CEO Hints at Electric Truck and Electric Supercar

What’s that goal? Building a brand identity. “95 percent of people don’t know who we are,” he said. That’s exactly what he said Tesla means to combat by opening these locations. “We’ll open another 25 stores this year,” he said. Currently, there are 24 locations in North America, which was the brand’s main focus this year.

“There’s a bit of lighting that happens when you talk to someone in person,” he said while smiling.

But that lightning is raising a few eyebrows in the U.S. where the brand’s primary focus was this year. Complains and lawsuits from the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) rose this year around Tesla’s small, independent storefront strategy. Laws exist in some states to prevent automakers from selling directly to consumers — primarily to protect dealer networks from being squeezed out.

But Tesla doesn’t have a dealer network, and therein lies the argument currently flaring between the two groups. Nevertheless, Blankenship said Tesla isn’t worried about the lawsuit, and quickly pointed out that it won’t be a struggle the brand will face with its new Canadian location.

GALLERY: Tesla Model S

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By Luke Vandezande