In a move that could make it the first American automaker to go public in over half a century, Tesla Motors, the California-based electric car startup, is said to be preparing an IPO filing. To date, the company has received $268 million in venture capital, a $50 million investment from Daimler, and a $465 million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Tesla has not commented publicly on rumors of an IPO, but insiders told Reuters a filing could come in the next few days. Such an announcement would be well timed considering the apparent gold rush to so-called “green” companies.
Tesla announced it reached profitability in July, with $1 million in earnings on revenue of $20 million. To date, the automaker has shipped close to 1,000 examples of its Roadster sports car, which retails for $109,000 and competes with the Porsche 911.
Flush with cash, it’s unclear why Tesla is pushing forward with an IPO at this time. The company has said it has more than enough funding to complete development of its Model S luxury sedan and construct a plant to build it. But given CEO Elon Musk’s ambitious tendencies (he’s also the founder of PayPal, SpaceX, and SolarCity), we wouldn’t be surprised if the company is considering other projects.
Good move or bad? I’m all for Tesla and the advancement of cars and their technology, but can such a niche market company survive in the “real” business world? Will having investors to please force the small company to abandon it’s vision of selling only high-end pure electric cars? Or will it be that once the development and build costs go down Tesla will lead the way into the EV market?