Tesla Gets $10 Million California Grant for Electric SUV

Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA), the maker of electric cars led by Elon Musk, received a $10 million grant from California to buy assembly equipment and add 500 workers to build a rechargeable sport-utility vehicle in the state.

The California Energy Commission awarded the funds to reimburse Tesla for machinery purchased to equip its Fremont, California, factory to produce the battery-powered Model X crossover, Alison apRoberts, a spokeswoman for the agency, said yesterday. Tesla is investing $50.2 million for the project and adding the jobs to qualify for the grant that’s funded by vehicle registration fees, she said.

“Development of Model X is under way and we’re scheduled to go into production in 2014,” said Christina Ra, spokeswoman for Palo Alto, California-based Tesla. The company’s Fremont plant currently has more than 1,500 people producing Model S sedans, lithium-ion battery packs and electric motors, she said.

Tesla raised about $200 million in a secondary stock offering last week, and also said it planned to make an early payment on U.S. Energy Department loans received in 2009 to develop and build the Model S. Musk, 41, said the company plans to be “cash flow positive” as early as next month, and profitable by 2013.

The company said Sept. 25 that it plans this year to deliver about 3,000 units of the Model S, down from an initial goal of 5,000. The sedan starts at $57,400. Tesla hasn’t provided pricing or production details for the SUV, which features distinctive “falcon-wing” doors and is touted by Musk as faster than Porsche AG’s 911 sports car and roomier than Audi AG (NSU)’s Q7 SUV.

Tesla bought and refurbished the Fremont plant in 2010 that operated as a joint venture of Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) and the predecessor of General Motors Co. (GM) until 2009. The factory opened as a GM plant in the early 1960s.

Tesla fell 0.3 percent to $28.32 at the close in New York. The shares have declined 0.8 percent this year.

To contact the reporters on this story: Alan Ohnsman in Los Angeles at aohnsman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jamie Butters at jbutters@bloomberg.net

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