Tesla Motors, the automaker which is Silicon Valley’s best hope to build an electric-car industry, will run out of cash in three months if it does not raise new financing. CEO Elon Musk has confirmed Valleywag’s report that it has spent most of its customers’ deposits and is running low on cash. In an interview with Reuters, CEO Elon Musk conceded that the company only has $9 million in the bank, as a concerned Tesla employee told us yesterday. Tesla's contract with customers specifies that deposits can be used for "working capital" — but last I checked, "working capital" means liquidity available to a company. It does not mean "money that has gone out the door." So Tesla may arguably be in breach of contract with the 1,200 customers who have put between $5,000 and $60,000 down for its Tesla Roadster. Tesla has only delivered 50 cars.
Musk has previously said that Tesla will be able to turn cash-flow positive in nine months, if it receives new investment. He now says he’s seeking an additional $20 million from Tesla’s current investors, and expects to get it next week.
Do the math: If Tesla has $9 million in the bank, and requires another $20 million to get to positive cash flow over the next nine months, then it is burning at least $3 million a month. And that’s after it laid off 24 percent of its workforce and announced plans to shutter its Detroit office.