The Washington Post

Tesla’s stock soars; operator of charging stations for electric cars tanks

Shares of electric car maker Tesla Motors zipped past $110 on Tuesday. (Paul Sakuma/AP)

Shares of electric carmaker Tesla Motors zipped past $110 on Tuesday, but the ailing operator of charging networks for electric vehicles called Project Better Place went to its final resting place as it filed for liquidation in an Israeli court.

Tesla’s stock soared 13 percent, giving the company a market value of $12.75 billion. The jump appeared to be driven by a report that Goldman Sachs analysts hosted a “field visit” to Tesla’s plant in Fremont, Calif. Analysts left impressed by rising sales in Europe and China that could eventually more than double Tesla’s 21,000 car sales target for this year.

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk borrowed $150 million from Goldman Sachs to buy shares in a recent stock offering, bringing his loans from Goldman to a total of $275 million, according to Tesla’s prospectus.

The stock offering helped Tesla pay off a low-interest Energy Department loan, which had required Musk to keep a high ownership stake. The soaring stock price has increased the value of Musk’s stake to $3 billion.

Musk has said that this week he would announce plans to expand a network of stations that recharge cars in just 30 minutes.

Project Better Place and its charismatic founder, Shai Agassi, had hoped its charging outlets would help motorists repower vehicles and swap batteries at carwash-style stations. Agassi proposed treating recharging services like cellphone service and making cars affordable by having firms keep battery ownership.

Better Place had focused on small markets such as San Francisco, Israel and Denmark.

Its directors said: “We stand by the original vision as formulated by Shai Agassi. . . . Unfortunately, the path to realizing that vision was difficult, complex and littered with obstacles, not all of which we were able to overcome.”

Steven Mufson covers the White House. Since joining The Post, he has covered economics, China, foreign policy and energy.



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