Five months ago, Tesla Motors appeared to be following in the footsteps of other American automakers. Lay-offs, a dearth of financing, and a spring recall of 70 percent of delivered Roadsters prompted speculation that Tesla might soon be the next casualty of the economic downturn.
But Tesla proved just too cool to fail. In May, German automaker Daimler injected $50 million in the “we’re this close to profitability we promise” EV maker for a 10 percent stake and a deal for Tesla to supply the batteries for the test series of Daimler’s smart electric drive. And then in June, Uncle Sam followed suit with $465 million in Department of Energy loans to Tesla to produce and manufacture the new Model S sedan. The loans will also finance the construction of a LEED-certified assembly plant in California, which will manufacture components for the Model S as well as the smart ed.
Rolling in cash and brimming with plans, Tesla turned this newfound financial confidence into a string of retail stores — don’t call them dealerships — that have more in common with Prada boutiques than your local used-car lots. The red Tesla marquee graces ex... Read more