Mixed Greens: Tesla troubles mount as EV debt called in

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US EV-maker told to speed loan repayment. Plus: Vic. flexible power price plan applauded; SA solar thermal campaign wins crucial support.

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California-based EV start-up Tesla Motors has been told to come up with a speedier repayment schedule for the $465 million it received in US Department of Energy loans, after getting a waiver on existing terms. Bloomberg reports that the luxury electric car maker said yesterday in a US regulatory filing that it has until October 31 to submit a proposal for “early repayment” of loan principal to the DoE. Shares in Telsa fell about 10 per cent, to $US27.66 at the close of Nasdaq trading on Tuesday, after the company revelaed that production of its new Model S electric sedan was running between four and five weeks behind the company’s original plan – it now expects to generate $44 million to $46 million in third-quarter sales, compared with the $83.1 million average of 12 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

With some breathing room on the terms of its loan, the company plans to sell about 5 million shares to raise cash. Tesla received a waiver on September 24 from a requirement in the previous loan agreement to maintain a specified current ratio of assets to liabilities, which measures a company’s ability to repay its debts in the next 12 months. And, as the Wall Street Journal reports, the sell-off, and the newly disclosed operational and financial problems, “are a blow to high-profile co-founder Elon Musk, who led a glitzy unveiling of a new battery charger on Monday, the same day the company got the DOE to amend its loan terms.” The WSJ also notes that the EV-maker’s troubles could provide more fodder for the Republicans’, who have been making electoral sport of discrediting the Obama government’s funding of green technology.

In other news…

More bad press for the EV sector with Japanese auto maker Toyota dropping plans for widespread sales of a new all-electric minicar, saying it had misread the market and the ability of still-emerging battery technology to meet consumer demands. The company says it will now only sell about 100 battery-powered eQ vehicles in the US and Japan in an extremely limited release.

The Alternative Technology Association has welcomed the Victorian state government’s decision to introduce flexible electricity prices from July 1 next year, saying it strikes “a good balance between opportunity and protection for Victorian households.” The not-for-profit group says the move will see consumers pay more to use energy at times of high demand and less at other times, making electricity prices more reflective of the costs of building power networks and operating generators than the flag tariffs most Victorian households are currently on.

The Walk for Solara 328km pilgrimage to Adelaide’s Parliament House to petition the South Australian government to build Australia’s first solar thermal power plant in the town of Port Augusta – attracted an important visitor this week, with the state’s energy minister, Tom Koutsantonis, joining the 80 walkers on day 10 of their journey, about 5km south of Port Wakefield. The minister did not walk, exactly, but “got out of his car to talk to the walkers” and, according to a statement from the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (a co-organiser of, and participant in, the walk), reiterated his support for solar thermal, and the need for federal support to build the plant.

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