California automaker Tesla Motors announced Wednesday it had completely paid off a Department of Energy loan nine years earlier than originally required.
“I would like to thank the Department of Energy and the members of Congress and their staffs that worked hard to create the ATVM program, and particularly the American taxpayer from whom these funds originate,” billionaire inventor and Tesla CEO Elon Musk said. “I hope we did you proud.”
The manufacturer of all-electric luxury cars found itself a political football because of the $465 million government loan it was awarded in 2010. Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin both labelled the car company “losers.”
Tesla was awarded the loan as part of the Energy Department’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) program. The program was signed into law by President George W. Bush and implemented under the Obama administration.
Tesla posted its first profits in first quarter of 2013, roughly ten years after the company was founded. Thanks to a slew of good reviews of its new Model S, Tesla has become worth more than Fiat, the largest car company in Italy.
“The Department first offered loans to Tesla and other auto manufacturers in June 2009, when car companies couldn’t get other financing and many people questioned whether the industry would survive,” U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a statement. “Today, Tesla employs more than 3,000 American workers and is living proof of the power of American innovation. This is another important contribution to what the Obama Administration has done to preserve and promote America’s auto industry.”