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Silicon Valley

Tesla’s solar business is adding extra financial worries to its long list of headaches

Elon Musk’s automaker has even more to think about than Autopilot accidents and building its cars faster.

Backstory: Two years ago, Elon Musk decided to acquire the solar firm Solar City, in a bid to create a seamlessly integrated clean energy company—solar panels, energy storage, and the car, too. The move was broadly criticised, not least because the $2 billion acquisition brought with it $2.9 billion debt.

The news:  Bloomberg reports that $390 million of that debt is due this year. That may not sound too bad, but Tesla is burning through cash—$6,500 a minute, according to another Bloomberg report. And meanwhile its credit rating, already hurt by SolarCity’s debt, was recently downgraded by Moody’s.

Why it matters: Tesla is having a tough time right now, coming under investigation for a driver fatality involving its Autopilot self-driving technology and struggling with continued investor concerns about the rate at which it’s building its Model 3 vehicles. Add to that list the looming financial worries of its solar division.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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