Tesla Model S - click above for high-res image gallery
In the months leading up to the recent announcement that Tesla Motors would receive $465 million in low cost loans from the Department of Energy, we expressed some skepticism that the company would qualify. Our skepticism was based in part on the program requirement to raise matching equity funds equal to 20 percent of the loan amount. CEO Elon Musk acknowledged as much in a January interview with Green Fuels Forecast.
It appears that the DOE has waived that equity requirement, at least for Tesla, in order to give approval for the loan. Tesla will apparently put up the cash from Daimler's investment and from revenues that it's getting from sales of the Roadster and pre-orders for the Model S. Musk has publicly said that he expects Tesla to be profitable starting this month, a turn that will help provide that cash. The big question is how long will the company be able to maintain that if Roadster sales don't pick up soon.
UPDATE: Tesla has issued a statement saying that there's nothing strange going on here:
The DOE absolutely did NOT waive any equity contribution requirements for Tesla. Furthermore, in terms of the disbursement of money and the purposes to which those funds can be applied, Tesla is being held to the highest possible standards of the ATVM. Telsa did not get any exception whatsoever to the ATVM program.