Less than four years after borrowing $465 million from the government, Tesla has become the first automaker to repay its loan under the Energy Department's Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program.
In a statement issued after the money had been wired, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said, "I would like to thank the Department of Energy and the members of Congress and their staffs that worked hard to create the ATVM program, and particularly the American taxpayer from whom these funds originate. I hope we did you proud."
The payment of nearly half a billion dollars was made possible in large part by Tesla's raising more than $1 billion with a stock and debt offering last week.
Romney's Loser Now A Winner for Obama
During the presidential campaign, Republican candidate Mitt Romney cited Tesla as one of the "losers" that had received funding from the federal government. Romney was trying to make the point that the ATVM program had a less than stellar record in supporting companies such as the Vehicle Production Group, Fisker and A123, an electric-vehicle battery maker that eventually went bankrupt.
(Read More: Lutz Sees Stripped-Down Fisker as Potential Gem)
Tesla is one of the few examples the Obama administration can point to as an ATVM success story.
Officially, the DOE still has $16.6 billion to lend, but given the improving economy and past recipients' checkered history, many believe the agency is unlikely to make another loan anytime soon.
The DOE lent a total of $8.4 billion, with the vast majority going to Ford and Nissan. Both companies still have years to repay what they borrowed, and there's no reason to think they will ever default.
(Read More: Tesla Alters Financing Program to Silence Critics)
Gearing Up With More Cash
With its DOE obligation fulfilled and increased liquidity, Tesla will focus for the rest of the year on two major endeavors.
The first is building and selling more Model S sedans. Tesla moved more than 4,750 in the first quarter and recently raised guidance for full-year sales to at least 21,000.
Executives will also turn their attention to the Model X SUV, which is scheduled to be in showrooms next year.