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In a Plus for Electrics, Tesla Repays a Big Federal Loan Early

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The taxpayer no longer has to worry about Tesla Motors. Tesla, the maker of electric cars, paid off a $465 million loan on Wednesday that the Energy Department made in 2010.

The repayment is a lift to the Obama administration, whose clean-energy loan programs faced criticism after the collapse of Solyndra, the solar panel maker. The company, using money it raised last week in the markets, is repaying the government nine years before its loan was due.

“Today’s repayment is the latest indication that the Energy Department’s portfolio of more than 30 loans is delivering big results for the American economy while costing far less than anticipated,” Ernest Moniz, the energy secretary, said in a statement.

Tesla’s payment will be the latest source of excitement to its supporters. But whether Tesla remains a good advertisement for government aid partly depends on how the company now performs. Should Tesla falter badly, it will only highlight the risks of lending to experimental companies.

Electric car enthusiasts have rushed to buy its main product, the Model S, a high-priced luxury sedan. Tesla also has plenty of fans in the markets, where investors who have piled into the company’s shares, in the belief that Tesla will find plenty of buyers for its cars.

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