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Tesla Motors Won't Need More Money, Says CEO Musk

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Tesla Motors released its 2011 financial results today and held a conference call this evening for financial analysts to question officials.

A number of interesting items emerged, largely from CEO Elon Musk.

Perhaps the most significant is Musk's claim that Tesla won't need to raise any more capital.

"Tesla does not need to ever raise another funding round," he said in response to a question on the company's cash position, liquidity, and rate of cash burn.

"We may want to do so, but we are in a strong cash position, and we don't need to."

Musk also said the relationship between the U.S. Department of Energy and Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] is "very good."

Although he didn't say so, that contrasts with the situation at Fisker Automotive, where the DoE has suspended further loan payouts after Fisker failed to meet deadlines and other terms it agreed to when granted $529 million of low-interest loans under the advanced technology vehicle manufacturing program.

'Revenge of the Electric Car' premiere: Elon Musk arrives in a Tesla Roadster

'Revenge of the Electric Car' premiere: Elon Musk arrives in a Tesla Roadster

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Tesla was granted $465 million of loans under the same program, but thus far, it has apparently met its deadlines.

Other items from the Tesla Q+A call:

  • The 2012 Tesla Model S does not compete with other electric cars, but with premium sedans like the Audi A6 or A8, the BMW 5- or 7-Series, and the Porsche Panamera
  • Tesla expects buyers to order $10,000 to $15,000 worth of options on Model S vehicles
  • The company expects to deliver 5,000 Model S cars during the second half of 2012
  • It looks "increasingly likely" that the Model S sedan will earn five-star safety ratings "in all categories," Musk said
  • The Model X crossover is not cannibalizing sales of the Model S sedan; in fact, "we've seen higher Model S reservations" as a result of Model X publicity
  • The Model X is the fastest-selling Tesla model in history, and generated $40 million in sales since the concept was unveiled last week
  • Tesla plans to sell the Model S and Model X in China; it thinks the Model X crossover in particular will have "a lot of appeal there"
  • After the Model X, the next Tesla vehicle will be a "third-generation" volume car with a price "in the $30,000 range"
  • The company made that decision because, Musk said, it had "gained enough confidence that our battery technology is scalable to higher volumes sooner than we thought"
  • As a consequence, the next generation of Tesla Roadster will be "pushed out four years or so," meaning a 2015 model
  • Tesla will provide a complete powertrain--not just a battery pack and charging equipment--to Mercedes-Benz for a future vehicle program

We also note, with amusement, that Musk said Tesla does not intend to provide Model S drives to journalists until after it delivers its first cars to customers.

"We want the car to be as close to perfect as possible before we give it to any automotive journalists," he said.

As for capital requirements, Musk noted that if the company accelerated development of the third-generation car--which would likely begin in earnest next year--"that could be an argument for a modest capital raise."

Which sounds like a graceful get-out-of-jail-free card if Tesla's finances don't proceed along the lines the company has projected.

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Comments (3)
  1. I think it was an excellent idea to push back the next generation Roadster, it makes more sense to bring out their masmarket Gen3 first then bring out another niche sports car. But it sounds like things are lookin up, keep up the good work Tesla.
     
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  2. Glad to hear everything is going great so far for Tesla. Frankly Tesla is too important for EV adoption to fail. They succeeded in doing what other EV makers failed to do: make electric motoring cool. They are raising the bar by offering products that people really want rather than awkward compromises that mostly seem to appeal to a hardcore of early adopters if sales so far are any indication. If Tesla succeeds others can't afford to give up and put electric motoring on the back burner again.
     
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  3. Apparently some confusion here - the reason for the roadster being next was due to the inability of battery prices to decline fast enough. Musk is saying that he was wrong : battery prices are dropping faster than the 6 percent per year he had estimated, making the $30K vehicle closer in the future. That vehicle has ALWAYS been Musk's main goal since he knows what many EV enthusiasts apparently don't realize : that a million EVs won't accomplish much of anything with respect to oil dependencies or carbon emissions. We need many dozens of millions.
     
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