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Friday, January 29, 2010

Tesla Motors files for IPO, seeking $100 million

Electric-car company Tesla Motors filed for an initial public offering Friday, seeking $100 million in the public-financing arena following the Department of Energy closing its $465 million loan to Tesla last week.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tesla filed documents with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, but did not indicate in the filing when those shares would be sold on the public markets, nor what the initial price would be. Company executives could not be immediately reached for comment.

The IPO is the first by a U.S. automaker since Ford Motor Co. entered the public markets in 1956. The company has not been profitable. Since its founding in 2003, it has lost $236.4 million, according to its filing. During the first nine months of 2009, it lost $31.5 million. The company said it has $106.5 million in cash as of Sept. 30.

Tesla first started selling its $100,000 all-electric sports car, the Roadster, in 2008 and followed that up last year with the Roadster 2. The company claims in its IPO filing that the car has a range of 236 miles on a single charge, and says it has sold 937 of the vehicles in 18 countries.

It is designing a sedan designed for family use, the Model S, which would run for $49,900 after a $7,500 federal tax credit, the company's IPO said. The sedan would have a range of 160 to 300 miles on a single charge.

In addition, Tesla is negotiating with Daimler AG to provide its electric powertrain and battery technology for Daimler's Smart fortwo car. One thousand Tesla battery packs and chargers are being used in a trial with Smart fortwo cars in five European cities.

Tesla said it has taken out a $465 million long-term loan with the Energy Department under its advanced-vehicles manufacturing program to build a facility that will manufacture the Model S. The company added that it has been given up to $31 million under similar California state programs.

Tesla's loan could give the government a stake in the automaker when it goes public. According to the filing, the Energy Department received warrants to purchase more than 9 million shares of Tesla when the loan closed on Jan. 20.

In the filing, Tesla indicated its revenue will decrease substantially before the Model S is rolled out -- expected to be sometime in 2012. That is because Tesla will cease selling its roadsters in 2011 and won't resume production on a new model until at least 2013.

Tesla named Goldman Sachs Group , Morgan Stanley , J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Deutsche Bank AG as underwriters.

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