Elon Musk has the last laugh (for now, anyway)

By Laurie Bennett

November 13, 2012 at 4:02am

While many are gloating over last week’s election results, few have more cause than serial entrepreneur Elon Musk.

Musk’s electric car company, Tesla Motors, was a favorite target of Republicans during the campaign.

In the first presidential debate, Mitt Romney accused the Obama administration of repeated investments in failing green-energy companies.

“You put $90 billion, like 50 years’ worth of breaks, into solar and wind, to Solyndra and Fisker and Tesla and Ener1,” he told Obama. “I mean, I had a friend who said you don’t just pick the winners and losers, you pick the losers, all right?”

Elon Musk
Elon Musk

On Monday, less than a week after Romney’s defeat, Motor Trend magazine named the Tesla Model S its Car of the Year.

Slate reports that Musk seized the opportunity to take a convoluted swipe at the real loser. “In retrospect he was right about the object of that statement, but not the subject,” Musk said.

Ener1, owner of a company that received government backing to manufacture electric car batteries, filed for bankruptcy in January. Solyndra, a solar panel maker, also declared bankruptcy after receiving federal loan guarantees. Fisker Automotive, another recipient of loan guarantees, has been plagued by the bankruptcy of the company making batteries for its electric cars.

Tesla received a $465 million U.S. Department of Energy loan in 2010. In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing last week, the company reported a loss of $110 million in the last quarter. However, Model S deliveries to U.S. customers began in June, and the company reported increasing its rate of production for the car.

Musk co-founded Tesla after making a fortune as a co-founder of PayPal. He also started Space Exploration Technologies, better known as SpaceX, which successfully launched a commercial spacecraft in October.

Although he supported President Obama’s re-election and understandably criticized Romney, Musk is not full-fledged Democrat. In the 2012 elections, he contributed to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and the National Republican Congressional Committee.

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  • #1.   Jim McDade 11.13.2012

    Musk has purchased support from both Republican and Democrat politicians over last several election cycles, so there are a number of Republicans who don’t want to see Tesla fail either. The cult-like adoration of this beneficiary of the most blatant sort of crony capitalism is astounding. Musk is wildly spending other people’s money, including taxpayers money, in a desperate attempt to create the impression that his Tesla and Space X ventures are viable. Gullible auto and space industry writers and fan-boys continue to channel his charismatic spin without bothering to look behind the curtain.

  • #2.   Mike S 11.13.2012

    In case you missed it; Space X and Tesla have both proven themselves “viable.” Whether or not they are profitable, is a different story that can only be answered with time. As for whether or not tax money should be used for private development, that all depends on the goal. If you believe we should all go back to the horse and buggy, and drop space exploration all together, I suppose you would be against it.

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