Tesla races to IPO

Hoopla surrounding Tesla Motors Inc. is accelerating -- much like its Roadster, which registers a reported 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds.

The Palo Alto-based company issues an expected initial public offering next week.

Tesla, the affirmed leader -- at least romatically -- in the electric car production race, plans to sell at least 10 million shares at a projected cost from $14 to $16 per share. Additional shares in the form of options and those sold by initial shareholders are also included and have the potential to boost the amount raised to $186.6 million, according to information in the company's June 15 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Tesla has applied to be listed on Nasdaq, trading under TSLA.

Tesla has outdistanced rival startup, Fisker Automotive, which hopes to come out with its Karma later this year. Chevy's Volt is expected to appear in showrooms later this summer, followed by Nissan's Leaf and Daimler AG's electric Smart Car.

Last month, the company inked a deal with Toyota "to cooperate on the development of electric vehicles, parts, and production system and engineering support," according to a joint press release issued by the companies. Toyota agreed to purchase $50 million of Tesla’s common stock issued just after the IPO.

“I sensed the great potential of Tesla’s technology and was impressed by its dedication to monozukuri (Toyota’s approach to manufacturing),” said Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda, in a statement.

However, Tesla doesn't appear immune to the economy. The company, which lists 646 employees worldwide, says it sold 1,063 Roadsters (list price: $109,000) to customers in 22 countries as of March 31. Greentechmedia.com's Michael Kanellos reports that amounts to about 10 vehicles per week in the first quarter of this year, short of past projections to ramp up to producing 30 cars per week.

"Demand is there. It just isn't as high as once projected," Kanellos writes.

In other news, Tesla received a loan for $465 million from the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentive Program. The money will be used to finance a manufacturing plant for Tesla's planned Model S four-door sedan (priced at a more family friendly $49,900 and to debut in 2012) and an electric powertrain production facility. The company purchased the former NUMMI factory in Fremont, which as recently as April had assembled Toyota Corollas and Tacomas.

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