Tesla's IPO windfall just a symbolic drop in the bucket

Automakers pushing electric cars, such as Nissan Motor Co., must be happy to see Tesla Motors' wildly successful public stock offering.

The company raised $226 million and saw its stock jump 41 percent on the first day of trading. Nothing better symbolizes the market's confidence in the future of electric vehicles.

But keep things in perspective.

Tesla has eaten up $230.5 million in cash and has yet to post a quarterly profit. The funds generated by this week's IPO barely cover that hole -- and probably won't go very far in paying for the new plants or acquisitions Tesla has said it would plow the money into.

Compare Tesla's $226 million haul with the investment made in electric vehicles by Nissan and its partner Renault. They are building battery factories and electric-vehicle assembly lines on three continents in a gambit to become EV leaders. Their commitment: $4 billion.

So yes, Tesla's stock sale should encourage electric-vehicle fans.

But the startup's victory is still just a symbolic drop in the bucket.

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