Tesla Motors, a maker of luxury electric cars, has received $465 million in low-interest federal loans to speed up production of more affordable fuel-efficient vehicles.
The Silicon Valley company said it would spend $365 million to build the Model S, a $57,400 sedan that Tesla is marketing as its more mainstream vehicle. The company is best known for its electric Roadster and Roadster Sport, which sell for $109,000 and $128,000, respectively.
Besides development of the Model S, Tesla plans to use $100 million of the funds from the Department of Energy for a powertrain manufacturing plant. Tesla plans to sell the all-electric powertrains to other automakers, but has yet to announce a site for the facility, which is expected to be in California. The facility will employ 650 people, according to Tesla.
Tesla's Roadsters are high-performing sports cars that go from 0 to 60 mph in less than four seconds and get more than 200 miles on a charge. The Model S is an all-electric family sedan that carries seven people and gets up to 300 miles on a charge. Tesla expects to start production of the Model S in late 2011 in an assembly plant that will employ 1,000 people. The site for the plant has not been announced.
The government loans are part of the federal Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program, which lends money to automakers to build more fuel-efficient vehicles. "Tesla will use the ATVM loan precisely the way that Congress intended -- as the capital needed to build sustainable transport," Elon Musk, chief executive and product architect of Tesla, said in a statement released Tuesday.
Tesla delivered its 500th Roadster in the United States in late May, according to the company. The company plans to open regional sales and service centers in New York, Seattle, Chicago, and Miami this summer. The dealerships will be in addition to the company's flagship stores, one in Los Angeles, the other in Menlo Park, Calif.
In Europe, Tesla plans to open a center in London this month, followed by Munich and Monaco. The company's cars are currently built by contract manufacturer Lotus.
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