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Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Photo by Bloomberg.
Autonomous Vehicles

The Truth about Tesla’s Cash Burn

By
Alfred Lee
 |  July 20, 2015 7:00 AM PDT
Photo: Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Photo by Bloomberg.

In its most recent quarter, Tesla Motors reported negative free cash flow of $558 million, raising alarms from analysts that the company could run out of cash by year’s end. Even the announcement of a new $500 million credit facility last month has not quieted speculation that the company will need more money.

“They may need access to further funding,” Nishit Madlani, an analyst at Standard & Poor’s, said recently in an interview.

Tesla’s cash burn—its stockpile has dropped from $2.7 billion to $1.5 billion in the last three quarters—has drawn gawkers on Wall Street and in the press. Most of the attention has been on its massive capital expenditures, which capture the imagination and are indeed the major driver. The company has said it plans total capital expenditures of $1.5 billion this year, including its “Gigafactory” battery plant in Nevada and a paint shop being touted as the world’s most advanced.

But new factories only tell part of the story.

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