Why so much money? Tesla had been considering entering into a partnership with another company for the production of WhiteStar. According to Tesla's Darryl Siry, "we looked very hard at a partnership with an OEM but it didn't make sense at the end of the day." The complexities of such a partnership would slow down the project and Tesla wants to keep control of more of their intellectual property. Once WhiteStar is underway, Tesla will be revisiting the idea of a partnership of some kind to produce a third, higher-volume model. That lower-cost car is targeted to sell at the rate of up to 100,000 annually.
Of the $250 million, about one third to one half is expected to be borrowed with the rest coming from the IPO. Tesla has applied for a loan guarantee from the Department of Energy to help raise the cash. The current plan is still to build the WhiteStar assembly plant in Albuquerque NM, but that may also change. A shift to the East Bay area, closer to the company's San Carlos CA headquarters is still a possibility.
As for the here and now, series production of the Roadster is still set to begin at Lotus' Hethel UK factory on March 17. The first car off the line that day (production unit #2) will be delivered to now departed company founder Martin Eberhard soon afterward.
[Sources: Financial Times, Tesla Motors]