Tesla Motors, the Silicon Valley-based company that designs, manufactures and sells electric vehicles, cut a $451.8 million check to the government on Wednesday, paying back in full its 2010 loan with interest from the Department of Energy about nine years before it was due.
"Following this payment, Tesla (TSLA) will be the only American car company to have fully repaid the government
," the company stated in a press release.
Tesla's loan repayment was made possible due to the company's first ever profit
, as well a $1 billion influx of funds raised last week through stock offerings and a higher-than-expected sales forecast.
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Additionally, Tesla's Model S sedan earned the highest auto test ratings ever from Consumer Reports
Over the past year, the company’s share price has taken off
from $25.52 to closing Wednesday at $87.24 a share, notes Bloomberg Business Week
"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 in a statement. "I hope we did you proud."
Tesla's $465 million DOE loan in 2010 was part of an Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program.
Tesla's triumph is particularly sweet considering it was singled out during the 2012 presidential campaign by then Republican candidate Mitt Romney, who lumping it in with other failed green companies, such as the bankrupt solar panel maker Solyndra, called it a "loser" in a debate.
Tesla has long received a significant amount of criticism, primarily from conservatives for its reliance on a federal handout to sustain operations.
In April, former Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin posted on Facebook: "This losing tax-subsidized venture joins other past losers like the Obama-subsidized Volt that gets 40 miles per battery charge, or like the Obama-subsidized Tesla that turns into a 'brick'
when the battery completely discharges and then costs $40,000 to repair."
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Musk responded by claiming Palin's Facebook post "deeply wounded" him.
Presently employing nearly 3,000 full-time employees in California, Tesla is reportedly planning to expand operations throughout North America and Europe in the coming years.
The company was founded in 2003 and has gained national attention for introducing the Tesla Roadster, the first fully electric sports car. Between 2008 and 2012, Tesla has sold more than 2,250 Roadsters in 31 countries.
Musk, the 41-year-old South African cofounder of Tesla, is worth an estimated $2.7 billion according to Forbes, having initially earned his money through launching the e-commerce business PayPal with billionaire entrepreneur Peter Thiel.
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