Tesla got a penalty when it paid back its $465 million DoE loan nine years early

Tesla paid its $465 million loan from the US Department of Energy nine years early, and by doing so, the company had to pay an “early repayment penalty.” This was mentioned recently by CEO Elon Musk in a comment on Twitter. 

Musk’s remark came as a response to news from Germany, which noted that Tesla would no longer be using government subsidies to construct its 4680 battery production and recycling facility at Gigafactory Berlin. This was quite a surprise to many since the company was poised to receive subsidies worth about $1.2 billion for its upcoming battery plant.

According to Musk, Tesla’s decision in Germany was partly due to lessons that the company learned in the United States. The CEO noted that the loan’s onerous terms ultimately ended up exceeding the value of the money that Tesla received. Thus, the company decided to pay its $465 million loan early, even if it had to pay an “early repayment penalty.” 

This was quite a surprise for many, as Tesla ended up being negatively incentivized not because it didn’t pay off its loan; but because it paid off its loan early. In comparison, the United States government ended up losing $11.2 billion in its bailout of General Motors, a company that, at least according to US President Joe Biden, is leading the electric vehicle revolution

Tesla’s $465 million DoE loan remains a key point of criticism among the company’s critics, many of whom continue to insist that the EV maker only exists due to a steady influx of government subsidies. It should be noted, however, that Tesla’s most successful quarters, especially as of late, were accomplished with very little subsidies, at least in the United States. 

Tesla’s electric vehicles don’t even stand to gain the full EV incentives from the Biden administration due to the company’s non-union workforce, but its vehicles like the Model Y are still on track to be one of the most successful electric vehicles in the market today. The same is true for the rest of Tesla’s upcoming vehicles, such as the Cybertruck and the Semi, both of which would likely disrupt the utility market.

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