Tesla Motors–they made that cute all-electric Roadster no one actually owns–wants you to know the money they received from the government is NOT the same money that bailed out Detroit, but rather a loan from the DOE to accelerate the production of fuel-efficient vehicles. So what are they doing with $350 million of your money? Well it’s actually pretty exciting; according to a blog post on Tesla’s Web site, an all-electric minivan, a crossover, and a utility fleet van will join the Model S family sedan on Tesla’s sales floor in the not-too-distant future.
After a fairly stringent application process and a thorough DOE review of its operations, in February Tesla joined Ford and Nissan as the first recipients of federal loans designed to move America’s car companies toward more fuel-efficient technology. No funds have been dispensed yet, but Tesla has big plans for its taxpayer injection, most importantly the development of an assembly plant for the Model S sedan (the first actual mass-production car from the company) in Southern California and a powertrain manufacturing facility in Northern California, which combined should employ about 1,650 workers. Tesla unveiled the Model S sedan in March, but so far there’s no word on when it will hit showrooms.
Tesla hopes its proprietary all-electric powertrain will be adopted by other manufacturers, saving them the time and cost of developing their own technology (and making a buck or two for Tesla). But it’s the derivative products slated for development that will thrill car-lovers and eco-junkies: a family-sized minivan, a crossover SUV, and a fleet vehicle that could help large entities like utilities or municipal governments save big money while drastically reducing carbon emissions.
As for the Roadster, well, 700 of the proof-of-concept vehicles are coursing roads in the U.S. and Europe. With a range of 244 miles (on electricity only), the Tesla Roadster is six times as efficient as a gasoline car, and twice as efficient as a Prius. Now that the Roadster has proven Tesla’s powertrain works, if the company can flip that technology into mass-marketable vehicles, more power to it.