Fact Check: Tesla Borrowed $465 Million From USA, Paid It Off 9 Years Early, Paid USA Back In Spades

There seems to be a lot of misinformation being purposely spread about Elon Musk and Tesla. This isn’t anything new, but the latest attack attempt is that Tesla borrowed $465 million from the US Department of Energy once upon a time. This is true, but much larger automakers also got money from this fund, which was created to stimulate innovation and business plans centered around greener transportation solutions. The point was to cut emissions, save lives by cutting air pollution, and have world leading businesses in the most promising automobile sectors of the future. By all accounts, Tesla has nailed it and was the best choice of the whole fund’s investment.


In the tweet above, an author, Katie Kieffer, shared that Elon Musk should write all of us stimulus checks. She misses the point: he already has. Tens of thousands of Americans are employed by Tesla — or, well, were before manufacturing was shut down in response to COVID-19. The US tax revenue and economic activity generated by Tesla has been enormous, far beyond the $465 million the company was once loaned.

By the way, that was a loan, not a grant, and Tesla paid it back in full 9 years early. Fun fact: the loan was paid back with interest of $20 million because Tesla wanted to pay it off early.

The link Kieffer shared was a news article questioning whether or not Elon Musk actually donated ventilators to the State of New York. The article she shared has an alarming headline that leads one to believe, at first glance, that Elon Musk didn’t send anyone any ventilators. He/Tesla did send ventilators. The article even pointed out something opposite of its headline: “He has sent ventilators to New York City, to Michigan, and to California.”

However, upon reading the article, it is clear that ventilators weren’t really the main focus anyway. It was Elon Musk, exploding rockets, bulletproof windshields, and “mass-market electric cars that struggle even to make it to market.” Huh?

Another complaint from the article that the author shared was that Elon Musk hasn’t given the press access to its Buffalo Gigafactory. Is that a requirement? Does a fast growing, global manufacturer with a tremendous number of press requests have to give journalists tours of every factory?

I think the lesson we can learn from the author is that research should be done before you tweet something as if it were a fact. In fact, her claims could be seen as libel — claiming that Elon Musk was smart at “stealing our money” would lead one to think that he stole millions from the American people.

I think what we should really focus on is not just the good Elon Musk and Tesla are doing, but also the work of hospitals all across the nation. We should also focus on ways to empower our communities. We should spend some more time on all the ways people are helping each other.

One way that Big Green has done it is through their Plant A Seed Day campaign. Remember the article I wrote a few weeks ago about how they were giving away seeds? I also put in a request for some.

My landlady has a community garden and also a small soup kitchen every other Friday. She feeds those in the neighborhood who are hungry every first and third Friday. She uses the food she grows in her garden as well as food she has procured in several other places.

Well, Big Green sent me two packs of seeds that I gave to her. She expressed her gratitude profusely and asked me to pass on the message to Kimbal, saying, “Thank you.”  I think we should appreciate those helping — whether they are Elon Musk or your next-door neighbor who sent you a text to let you know your package is on your steps.

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