Tesla Stock Offering Is Coming

2010 Tesla Roadster Sport

It looks as though Tesla Motors will file for an Initial Public Offering of its stock very soon. Some are excited by this news; others skeptical. In a way, it doesn’t make sense. As LeftLane said,

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.

It also seems this may be the time to capitalize on the company’s cash position and the green car techno-boom, such as it is. The LA Times feels the “overall market for new stock offerings has been flourishing lately,” and a successful IPO would surely put Tesla on the map. It would be the first U.S. auto IPO since Ford went public in 1956. A Reuters piece suggests that the allure of such a company for venture funds is considerable, and Tesla has already attracted some high-profile investors, not to mention $465 million in low-cost government loans.

The big drawing card, I think, is not just the Model S (starting at $49,900, after a federal tax credit of $7,500). It’s the 2010 Roadster (above), whose incredible performance has enticed some 700 buyers to shell out $109,000 a copy. With add-ons that any fool would add on, the total can easily come to over $150 K. Scott Doggett of Edmunds.com gave one a good thrashing in the Marin (Calif.) hills. If you read his piece, you’ll want one, guaranteed.

So the IPO, if it comes, should appeal through Tesla’s ability to produce a mid-price, appealing luxo sedan and a state-of-the-art electric sports car for the well-heeled. The fact that the company claims great advances in battery technology will also help.

Tesla is going to have stiff competition from Nissan (the Leaf) and GM (the Volt), among others. Will its niche status enable it to survive and prosper? Give us your thoughts.

—jgoods

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