Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA) Receives $10 Million

Grant to Fund Factory Expansion


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By Brianna Panzica
Friday, October 12th, 2012

Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA) lit up the market when it finally began deliveries of its Model S.

The long-awaited electric sedan was released in June to rave reviews. Starting at $49,900 after a $7,500 federal tax credit, the sedan comes with a broad range of options.

And even though the company has fallen behind on production—revising its estimated deliveries for this year from 5,000 down to 3,000 late last month—the hype surrounding it hasn't died down.

It's next project has been in the planning stages, but as the year draws to a close it comes closer to reality.

The Model X, its next generation of electric vehicles, is a sport-utility vehicle slated for debut in 2014.

The SUV is distinct for its “Falcon Wing” rear doors, which open upward and call to mind Doc Brown's DeLorean—albeit with a more sophisticated technology. Tesla boasts that with these doors, it's easy to get in and out of the vehicle in even the tightest of parking spots. As they say, “You easily step, not climb, into the Model X.”

And with the Model X, Telsa hopes to avoid the production shortfall that's occurring right now with the Model S.

The California Energy Commission (CEC) revealed this week that it is providing Tesla with a $10 million grant to expand its plant in Fremont, California.

The plant, which was acquired back in 2010, was previously owned by Toyota Motor Corp. (TYO: 7203) and General Motors (NYSE: GM). Though its production capacity is currently low, much of the plant is unused—it actually has an annual capacity of 500,000, which Tesla CEO Elon Musk hopes to take advantage of in the future.

This grant could help the company get there.

It was part of a $20 million round of “clean transportation” awards, given to companies that have shown innovation in the sector.

And this round is just part of the $90 million the state has set out for the fiscal year 2012-2013 for development in alternative and renewable fuels.

From the press release:

“These investments in clean vehicles will reduce petroleum use, improve air quality, and create jobs, while demonstrating California's commitment to a greener transportation future,” said Energy Commissioner Carla Peterman.

For Tesla, the grant will go toward making room at the plant for the Model X. Production of the next vehicle will create between 500 and 700 jobs, and the company hopes to work up to an annual production capacity of 20,000.

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From Bloomberg:

“Development of the Model X is under way and we're scheduled to go into production in 2014,” said Christina Ra, spokeswoman for Palo Alto, California-based Tesla. The company's Fremont plant currently has more than 1,500 people producing Model S sedans, lithium-ion battery packs and electric motors, she said.

Tesla will invest $50.2 million in the project, and it also held a secondary stock offering last week in which it raised $200 million. Elon Musk has said the company will become profitable by next year.

With three rows of seats and acceleration from 0 to 60 in under 5 seconds, the Model X is a completely different kind of vehicle for Tesla and electric vehicle fans.

A touchscreen set into the dashboard allows the driver to toggle entertainment options and navigation quickly and easily.

Pricing has not been released for the vehicle, though analysts expect it will fall within the $50,000 to $100,000 price range of the Model S.

Tesla was down 2.61% on Friday to $27.58.

That's all for now,

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Brianna Panzica

follow basic@brianna_panzica on Twitter

Energy & Capital's modern energy guru, Brianna digs deep into the industry with accurate and insightful updates into the biggest energy companies and events. She stays up to date with the latest market moves and industry finds, bringing readers a unique view of current energy trends. For more on Brianna, see her editor's page.


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