The payment helps Tesla show its independence, said Dougherty & Co. analyst Andrea James. "It allows them to say, 'We're not dependent on low-interest financing from the government,'" she said.
It also lets Musk thumb his nose at critics like Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who in the first presidential debate accused President Barack Obama of picking "losers" for putting money into Tesla and Fisker.
Tesla Motors Inc. is among five auto companies that got loans from the Energy Department to develop clean vehicles, including Fisker, Ford Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. and The Vehicle Production Group LLC.
Ford got a $5.9 billion loan, while Nissan got $1.45 billion.
The government is in danger of losing $171 million at Fisker, which may soon seek bankruptcy protection, and it could lose about $45 million at VPG. The Allen Park, Mich.-based company got its loan to build wheelchair-accessible vans. About 25 percent of the company's models ran on compressed natural gas, a feature that helped it win the loan.
Associated Press Writer Matthew Daly contributed to this report from Washington.
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