Tesla Troubles: Model S Could Be Delayed, Elon Musk Is Out of Cash




Is Tesla Motors in trouble? Earlier this month, Tesla surprised us all with news that the startup is teaming up with Toyota to work on electric vehicles. As part of the deal, we learned, Toyota will also buy $50
million of Tesla’s common stock once the company’s IPO is complete, and Tesla will buy Toyota and GM’s out-of-commission California auto plant, NUMMI. But according to Tesla’s recently filed revised S1 form (PDF), all may not be well in Elon Musk’s EV empire.

The filing reveals a number of potential problems for Tesla. In the “Risks Affecting Us” section, Tesla admits:

anticipate that we will experience an increase in losses and may
experience a decrease in automotive sales revenues prior to the launch
of the Model

have a history of losses and we expect significant increases in our
costs and expenses to result in continuing losses for at least the

may experience significant delays in the design, manufacture, launch
and financing of the Model S, including in the build out of our planned
Model S manufacturing facility.


That’s all sort of expected since the SEC filing has to report on worst-case scenarios. Even the part about a potential delay in the launch of the Model isn’t too surprising. CEO Elon Musk pushed the date back from late 2011 to early 2012 already. The question becomes, then, how long will we have to wait for the much-anticipated Model S sedan?

And while Tesla announced earlier this month that its partnership with Toyota could yield a new EV from the two automakers, the filing reveals that nothing is certain:

In May 2010, Tesla and Toyota announced their intention to cooperate on the development of electric vehicles. This may involve the production of vehicles or powertrain components. However, we have not yet entered into any agreements, including any purchase orders, with Toyota for such arrangements and we may never do so.

Musk’s personal finances are also under fire. VentureBeat reports that a court filing from February reveals Musk’s financial difficulties. The entrepreneur has apparently been living off loans from friends since October 2009, all while spending $200,000 each month. So while Musk has helped Tesla financially in the past, there isn’t much he can do anymore. The startup finally has to stand on its own–with a little help from the US government and Toyota.


Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by e-mail.

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.