When is $20 million not equal to $20 million? When, for some, it's an interest payment and, for others, it's all someone else thinks they're worth. Here's how that one number means two totally different things to two different green car companies.

Speaking to Bloomberg Television about the early repayment of Tesla Motors' DOE loan, CEO Elon Musk said today that, "ultimately, the US taxpayer actually made a profit above $20 million on this loan. For this loan at least, people's tax bill actually went slightly down."

Musk said that, now that the loan has been paid back, more people might take a look at Tesla. "We were attacked a lot in certain quarters for having some government debt," he said. "I think that actually matters to some consumers out there, whether or not a company actually does have government debt, and being able to say we fully repaid that debt with interest, I think it is helpful to some number of people out there in thinking about buying a car." So, for Tesla, which recently raised over a billion dollars, $20 million is an easy price to pay to potentially sell more EVs.

Now, let's look at Fisker Automotive, which is still fending off bankruptcy. We learned this week that VL Automotive and Wanxiang made an offer to buy the troubled automaker for an undisclosed sum. Word out today is that the amount that the two companies are willing to pay for Fisker is, you guessed it, $20 million. That's about one percent of Fisker's $2 billion-plus value back when the Karma plug-in hybrid was launched, according to Reuters. It's unclear how a potential Fisker buyer will have to deal with the outstanding DOE loan amount of $171 million and other issues, but the $20-million offer a striking contrasts to Musk's statement on Bloomberg Television, which you can watch in the video below.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 41 Comments
      Avinash Machado
      • 2 Years Ago
      RIP Fisker.
      Spec
      • 2 Years Ago
      Jeez . . . Bob Lutz is an F'in cheap skate. Sell a couple of your toys and buy the company if you want it.
      bluepongo1
      • 2 Years Ago
      Money: To the poor it's everything but to the wealthy it's just a scorecard.
        seattlemarc.j
        • 2 Years Ago
        @bluepongo1
        As Coco Chanel said, There are people who have money, then there are people who are rich. The money's nice, (especially not hoarding it) but rich is the good part.
      k_m94
      • 2 Years Ago
      Tesla: How to make a startup premium eco-friendly car company in America and succeed. Fisker: How not to make a startup premium eco-friendly car company in America and fail.
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @k_m94
        Edison said he found a thousand ways NOT to make a lightbulb.
          zbaumel
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          But he didn't spend a billion dollars on prototypes either. . .
          Nemebean
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Nor did he build a marketable alternative fuel car. Your point?
      Marcopolo
      • 2 Years Ago
      A very good interview with Elon Musk, who's rightfully proud of his achievements with Tesla. It's always a bit distasteful to watch as the vultures and voyeurs gather round the dying remains of Fisker. It's also ironical and potentially a portent of things to come if Lu Guanqiu's Wanxiang Group buys both of these US taxpayer funded companies. Although the US taxpayer should be grateful that Wanxiang has offered to repay the DOE loans, (and Prof Lu Guanqiu's reputation for business integrity is irreproachable ), it must be observed that if this deal goes through, Wanxiang will be the beneficiary of nearly $ 2 billion dollars of US investment capital, for less than 10 cents on the dollar. ( includes S.A.V) It must be especially bitter to Fisker, that the defective A123 batteries responsible for the disastrous, and highly publicised, Consumer Reports Test of the Karma, were made in the US, whereas the the PRC made, A123 batteries (cylindrical cell ) supplied to BMW were unaffected. One thing this does reveal is the growing power and expertise of PRC capital to finance PRC owned groups to take long term, strategic, commercial positions in Western industry. The Chinese are following the Japanese. The idea that Western capital and industry would dominate the markets created by a 'free market' economy in the PRC, has not occurred. In fact, quite the reverse ! The West has allowed a massive transfer of wealth technology , and employment to the PRC, aided by PRC government policies, and encouraged by naive Western Governments. who let the PRC break all the rules, in an eagerness for short term gains. For from gaining new markets in the PRC, America is now dependent on PRC capital to finance US debt ! ( Ironically, the PRC is just lending the US back it's own money!). Hopefully, the next generation of American business leaders will be more like Elon Musk.
        Grendal
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Marcopolo
        I blame the government (both parties) for allowing such stealthy economic incursions/warfare to occur. It is their responsibility as leaders to guard and protect their citizens against this sort of thing. They have sacrificed our well being for a quick buck and promise of re-election.
          Grendal
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Grendal
          We as citizens are absolutely complicit in our weak choices. Further, we have allowed those same politicians to "game the system" with our inattentiveness and passivity. In modern society it is so easy to be distracted by all the entertainment around us.
          Marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Grendal
          @ Grendal True, but then the old saying "The people get the government they deserve" is also true. Especially in the USA, where in some elections, less than 40% of citizens bother to vote !
      Greg
      • 2 Years Ago
      Fisker isn't worth $20M.
      EVnerdGene
      • 2 Years Ago
      Henrik Frisker working on deal with HongKongers to buy Frisker Automotive. Good. I hope DOE is somehow smart enough to snag the $170-something Million still owed the treasury.
      Koenigsegg
      • 2 Years Ago
      the front end of a model s is so sexy, but that fisker front end is ugly
        2 wheeled menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Koenigsegg
        The fisker was designed to suck in plankton as an alternative fuel source, you insensitve clod!
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Koenigsegg
        The Fisker is a great looking car. It is just not a great running car.
          Bernard
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          But it's an excellent marshmallow cooker :-)
          Greg
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          No, the Fisker is ugly as homemade sin - with a silly mustache.
      Trent
      • 2 Years Ago
      When a company purchases another they rarely buy the debt. My guess is that the government will step in and ask Tesla to buy Fisker for pennies on the dollar.
        m_2012
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Trent
        There is no technology or design that Tesla would want from Fisker. The name isnt worth $5. Its just not worth $20M to Tesla.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Trent
        "When a company purchases another they rarely buy the debt." This is only true in case of a company that has been bought after emerging from bankruptcy, where the debt has been split out (like with Chrysler or GM). However, that is not the case in a typical acquisition - when one company buys another normally, they absolutely do buy the debt and other obligations.
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Trent
        Elon Musk is VERY adamant about staying focused on pure EVs.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          At least he has been since he changed his mind. The Model S was originally intended to have a PHEV variant.
        MONTEGOD7SS
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Trent
        Why would an electric car company have any desire to own a hybrid car?
      seattlemarc.j
      • 2 Years Ago
      Oops....I meant to say Z8 four-door. Always had and loved BMWs, but now my garage is home to eight rings and a T. Fisker is nothing more than a styling excerciseexcercise with poor thought (if any) given to engineering. Yeah, I could also see it as the four-door stablemate to the American pinnacle of ostentation, the 'Vette'.
        Jason H
        • 2 Years Ago
        @seattlemarc.j
        You are a pretentious fool. Keep paying for those badges and justify your purchases by slamming American cars.
      PeterScott
      • 2 Years Ago
      I assume the $20Million offer is in addition to assuming other liabilities, which makes it a something closer to $200 million out of pocket.
        Doug
        • 2 Years Ago
        @PeterScott
        I doubt it. Any offer Lutz would make is most likely post bankruptcy, and thus free of debts. At any rate, Lutz is only interested in the Karma bodies, not the drivetrain.
      John Ralphio
      • 2 Years Ago
      GM should just buy Fisker and rebadge it and and slide in its own powertrain. The car is so beautiful, it should live on as a proper grand tourer.
        Sir Duke
        • 2 Years Ago
        @John Ralphio
        Ha! It already has Buick(esque) lines.
          seattlemarc.j
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Sir Duke
          Actually with a small amount of work (tone down the cartoonish Joker-face) it could pass for a next-gen Z8. OF course, BMWs (even the new 3) do sadly have an intense Buick-ness to them now.
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