Hidden by model 3 mess, Tesla's debt problem about to emerge

The headlines around Tesla's model 3 troubles have obscured the conversation about SolarCity debt.

Photo: /ritzau/AP/Ben Macmahon

With all the car-making troubles that are hounding Tesla Inc. these days -- from the Model 3 bottlenecks to the furious cash burn -- it's easy to overlook the company's SolarCity headache.

But 16 months after Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk kicked up controversy by acquiring the solar-panel installer founded by two of his cousins, its obligations are a strain on Tesla's finances. The USD 2 billion purchase came with a USD 2.9 billion debt load, and a chunk of that is soon coming due. That's bad timing for a company churning through about USD 6,500 a minute and trying to stave off the need for another capital raise.

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