Billionaire Elon Musk accused consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader of lying after he claimed the billionaire took “taxpayers to the cleaners” with Tesla.
In a Friday tweet, Nader wrote that Musk “started Tesla with a huge US government welfare grant.” However, Musk did not start Tesla as it was founded in 2003 by entrepreneurs Martin Eberhard and Mark Tarpenning.
Nader, 88, accused Musk of “taking taxpayers to the cleaners for his factories and Starlink. He is a giant corporate welfare kingpin operating as a capitalist businessman.”
It was not clear why Nader made the allegations about Elon Musk and Tesla. The tweet ends with “-R”, meaning it was written by Nader himself rather than one of his employees.
Elon replied: “Ralph Nader, you are lying – shame on you! I personally provided almost all Tesla funding based on my income from PayPal.”
When eBay bought PayPal for $1.5 billion in 2002, Musk got about $175 million.
He became the largest shareholder in Tesla after investing $6.5 million in 2004 and took over as CEO in October 2008.
“In late 2008, I gave Tesla the last money I had. It was that or the company would have died. We closed that funding round at 6pm on Christmas Eve,” Musk tweeted.
“If we had not closed that round, Tesla would have gone bankrupt 2 days after Christmas. I gave my last money thinking Tesla would probably still die, not thinking that it would be lucrative.”
Musk added in his tweet to Nader that the “first meaningful government funding” Tesla received was in the second quarter of 2010.
According to its website, Tesla received about $465 million from the Department of Energy to ramp up the production of electric vehicles.
Musk concluded that “Tesla quickly repaid that loan with interest” and that “taxpayers actually made a profit.” In a May 2013 press release, the EV maker said it had repaid the loan nine years ago.
“I want to thank the Department of Energy and the members of Congress and their staff who worked hard to build the ATVM program, and especially the American taxpayers from whom these funds originated,” Musk said at the time. “I hope we made you proud.”
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Information Source: BI