A week after Tesla Motors announced it would be able to deliver the first Model S in June, a month ahead of the original July release date, the startup automaker continued the good news by announcing it will start repaying the Energy Department loans it got in 2009.
The $465 million loan was part of the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program meant to encourage the creation jobs and cars using little or no fossil fuels. Fisker, Ford and Nissan were also participants receiving loans under the program.
As of March, 2012, Tesla reported having $104.5 million left of the loan, which is expected to be spent before the fourth quarter begins. Payments on the half-billion loan will begin in December.
"We are delivering on the milestones, what we've committed to," said Tesla Chief Financial Officer Deepak Ahuja in an interview with Bloomberg. "Once we are delivering customer cars, then that signifies completion of the project."
With the first Model S delivery taking place soon, Tesla is also focusing on its retail strategy. In charge of sales and ownership is former Apple executive George Blankenship. His plan for Tesla is to have only company-owned stores where well-trained company reps will interact with customers. Actual sales will take place online, not on the sales floor. Employees will not get a commission on sales, which should help tone down the usual hard-sale tactics of car salespeople.
"It takes the whole not-selling-the-car process to another level," Blankenship told Automotive News. "We're telling customers, 'I can't sell you a car today if I wanted to.'"