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How Tesla Motors Really Makes Money… From Taxpayers

Posted By Daniel Greenfield On May 28, 2013 @ 9:40 am In The Point | 51 Comments

Tesla’s announcement that it had paid back its government loan made it sound like at least one of Obama’s crony capitalist Green Energy boondoggles was working the way it was supposed to.

Finally at least one green energy company wasn’t drinking the blood of taxpayers in its corporate offices and was actually making money selling things. It was the dawn of a new age.

Except it wasn’t.

The latest round of Tesla wonderment came when it reported its first quarterly profit earlier this month. TSLA stock darned near doubled in a week.  Musk then borrowed $150 million from Goldman Sachs (shocking!) and floated a cool billion in new stock and long-term debt.  That’s how we—the taxpayers—were repaid.

Tesla didn’t generate a profit by selling sexy cars, but rather by selling sleazy emissions “credits,” mandated by the state of California’s electric vehicle requirements.  The competition, like Honda,  doesn’t have a mass market plug-in to meet the mandate and therefore must buy the credits from Tesla, the only company that does. The bill for last quarter was $68 million.

Absent this shakedown of potential car buyers, Tesla would have lost $57 million, or $11,400 per car. As the company sold 5,000 cars in the quarter, though, $13,600 per car was paid by other manufacturers, who are going to pass at least some of that cost on to buyers of their products. Folks in the new car market are likely paying a bit more than simply the direct tax subsidy.

Tesla isn’t actually making money selling cars. It’s making money from crony capitalist taxes of people who buy cars from other companies. And even the customers who buy its cars get paid with taxpayer money.

First, there’s the $7500 taxback bonus that every buyer gets and every taxpayer pays.  Then there are generous state subsidies ($2500 in California, $4000 in Illinois—the bluer the state, the more the taxpayers get gouged), all paid to people forking out $63K (plus taxes) for the base version, to roughly $100K for the really quick one.

Tesla is still turning a profit, not from customers, but from money being seized from taxpayers to compensate its customers for buying Tesla.


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