Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed in an interview with Bloomberg that the California-based automaker is planning to pay back its government loans in five years or less, well ahead of its scheduled 10-year pay back period. Tesla received $465 million from the Energy Department's clean energy initiative.Tesla made its first payment on its government loan, to the tune of $13 million, last December. Tesla, which expects to post a slight profit this quarter, hopes to be government debt-free by 2017.
Although the Energy Department has been criticized for making bad loans in recent years, such as a $528 million federal grant to now-bankrupt solar panel maker Solyndra, Musk says the agency should be commended for success stories like Tesla. However, the DOE's track record in the automotive sector is far from sterling. Federally funded electric vehicle battery maker A123 was recently sold to a Chinese company and plug-in car maker Fisker, propped by nearly $200 million in government loans, is barley clinging to life.
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