Rumors Bubble Over Tesla Motors IPO

Mayor of Downey announces city near deal for Tesla plant location

By Jackson West
|  Tuesday, Nov 24, 2009  |  Updated 2:45 PM PDT
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Rumors Bubble Over Tesla Motors IPO

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, left, might make good on a long-promised IPO, but the company has yet proven sustainably profitable and returns may not be great for early investors.

If Tesla Motors makes good on its promises to issue stock in an initial public offering, as rumored by sources who spoke to Reuters last week, could it prove as sexy as the company's signature Roadster?

Battery technology company A123Systems had a successful open in a September IPO, with the stock rising 50 percent after issue.

But unlike companies like Google, which made a mint for thousands of investors and early employees after going public, cleantech companies have to move atoms, not just bits, which means higher initial costs and potentially skimpier returns for venture capitalists.

Also, while cleantech is hot and enjoys broad support by politicians -- the Department of Energy awarded Tesla $465 million in cheap loans to expand production -- Tesla isn't exactly profitable.

The company has only gone on record as recording a monthly operating profit of $1 million on $20 million revenue in July, with no word on continued profitability. Revenue may have included pre-order "deposits" on the prototype-stage Model S Sedan.

Meanwhile, Downey, Calif. mayor Mario Guerra announced that he was presenting the city council with a document that could entice Tesla to lease space and build a production plant at a NASA research complex in that city.

Tesla Motors recently

moved its headquarters to Palo Alto, Calif

.

Jackson West thinks electric cars will only contribute to the public health and transportation access issues of car-centric urban planning.

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