Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

4 of 5
Investment: At least $931 million in equity investments and loans

PayPal founder Elon Musk's seven-year-old auto company made a name for itself with the stunning Roadster electric car, which has a range of about 245 miles per charge and goes from zero to 60 miles per hour in just 3.7 seconds. But with a $100,000 price tag, the Roadster was more of a "collector's item" than a business strategy, Musk admitted. The automaker sold just 1,100.

For the mass audience, Tesla is banking on its more reasonably priced sedan, the Model S. The automaker plans on selling the Model S for $50,000 starting in 2012, and by 2013 it aims to produce 20,000 cars a year.

But that's going to be tricky. By Tesla's own admission, the Model S has just one operable prototype and no final design or manufacturing process. The company also has not completed its purchase of the plant in which it plans to make the new car.

As a result, Tesla's timetable for bringing the Model S to market may be a reach.

"Most experienced automakers race to put a car together in three years," said Angus MacKenzie, editor of Motor Trend magazine. "I can't see Tesla making more than a handful of these -- if any -- in 2012."

That would delay Tesla's ability to turn a profit. Elon Musk poured much of his personal fortune into the company, which raised at least $200 million from private investors and got a $465 million loan backed by the the Department of Energy. Tesla's IPO in June netted the company another $266 million from investors.

It was a badly needed cash infusion: Tesla has lost nearly $300 million since its inception. Until the Model S goes on sale, Tesla said it will continue to pile up hefty losses.

NEXT: Better Place

Last updated August 26 2010: 12:40 PM ET
More Galleries
Black Friday 2015 in pictures Shoppers around the country braved the crowds to get their hands on the best Black Friday deals. More
Driving the ultimate in '50s Mercedes-Benz style The SC was the car that re-introduced Mercedes-Benz as a global luxury car icon. More
Driving the world's first car Driving a replica of the 1886 Benz Patent Motorwagen, the first internal combustion automobile. More

Special Offer