Fresh from the announcement that the company had paid back its US government loan in full, Tesla Motors founder and CEO Elon Musk said a weight had been lifted from the Silicon Valley-based manufacturer’s chest and it could now focus even more intently on future products.
“We did get criticised quite a lot for taking government funding, even though during the first several years Tesla was privately funded – mostly from me,” Musk told Bloomberg.
“I put my last money into Tesla in late 2008 just to keep the company alive.”
Amid suggestions that Tesla could be acquired by a larger company with bigger budgets, Musk said his current priority was to develop and build a compact EV that is better and more desirable than the Nissan Leaf.
“With the Model S, you have a compelling car that’s too expensive for most people. And you have the Leaf, which is cheap, but it’s not great,” he said.
“What the world really needs is a great, affordable electric car. I’m not going to let anything go, no matter what people offer, until I complete that mission.”
Musk said the new model, planned to launch by 2017, would offer a driving range of 320km and would be priced below US$40,000 ($41,500). The Nissan Leaf is currently available from as low as US$21,300 ($22,100) in the US after government tax savings.