After the Solyndra debacle, Fremont was starting to become one of President Obama’s political liabilities and it would have only gotten worse if the Tesla Motors loan didn’t work out. Fortunately for all involved parties, Tesla — which is HQ’d in Palo Alto but does its manufacturing in Fremont — is the ‘anti-Solyndra.’
In a boost for the Obama Administration and controversial federal cleantech programs, electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors (TSLA) announced Wednesday it paid back its $465 million government loan nine years early.
The U.S. Department of Energy oversees $34 billion in taxpayer-funded loans for 33 clean energy projects, and Tesla is the first American car company to pay back its loan. The DOE loans came under fierce criticism from Congressional Republicans in the wake of the high-profile 2011 bankruptcy of Fremont solar manufacturer Solyndra, with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney calling Tesla a “loser” in a presidential debate last fall.
“This is another important contribution to what the Obama Administration has done to preserve and promote America’s auto industry,” U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a statement Wednesday. “This announcement is also good news for the future of America’s growing electric vehicle industry.”
Moniz noted that sales of electric vehicles in the United States tripled last year and said “Tesla and other U.S. manufacturers are in a strong position to compete for this growing global market.
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