Electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors yesterday raised US$226m in an initial public offering of 13,300,000 shares of its common stock at $17.00 per share, 20% more volume than originally planned and US$1 above the range being discussed ahead of the IPO.

The shares are traded on NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol TSLA.

Of the shares in the offering, 11,880,600 shares were offered by the company and 1,419,400 shares by selling stockholders, Tesla said.

 

This was the first initial public offering of a US automaker in a half century, Bloomberg News noted.

The Palo Alto, California-based company will use proceeds to pay for factories and possible acquisitions, an SEC filing showed.

Tesla is expected to lose more money in the next two years as it tries to build a battery-powered sedan.

“It might be something that gets people excited about the equity markets,” San Francisco fund manager Michael Cuggino told the news agency. “It’s potentially a new technology with a lot of questions. The questions are whether it’s going to be profitable and has staying power.”

Elon Musk, Tesla’s biggest shareholder, co-founded PayPal, the online payment company now owned by EBay, and is CEO of Space Exploration Technologies, a Hawthorne, California-based company that builds spacecraft.

Bloomberg noted he had spent more than $70m of his own money on Tesla while selling about 1,000 Roadsters to film stars, musicians and battery-car advocates.

The company would already be profitable if it only made the Roadster and supplied powertrains, Musk said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s ‘In the Loop With Betty Liu’. Tesla is expanding “3,000%” over two to three years as it develops the Model S sedan and aims to remain independent.

“It’s just not possible for the company as a whole to be profitable with that rate of expansion,” Musk said.

Though the automaker has burned through $230.5m in cash and posted losses in every quarter since it was founded in July 2003, Tesla attracted Toyota which planned to buy $50m of shares alongside the IPO.

Tesla and Toyota have said they may cooperate on electric-vehicle development, though they haven’t yet signed agreements to do so, filings show. Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the government of Abu Dhabi and Daimler are also investors, BLoomberg noted.

Tesla’s net loss in the first quarter almost doubled to $29.5m from a year earlier and the deficit was more than half the $55.7m the carmaker lost in all of 2009.

Tesla had revenue of $112m last year.