California electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc. plans to raise up to $100 million in an initial public offering, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The move brings the innovative car company, which has long enticed car enthusiasts, one step closer to becoming a household name.
The price of shares or the timing of their availability is still unclear, but industry observers expect the much-anticipated offering to be well-received by investors.
David Menlow, president of IPOfinancial.com, said that selling stock to the public would bring the company closer to becoming independently profitable.
"This could propel them into a more prominent position in the auto industry," Menlow said. "The question is how they're going to be able to rein in their costs."
The San Carlos, Calif., firm's IPO would be a first among electric car companies, which have shown life in recent years in response to high oil prices.
Tesla currently sells its signature all-electric Roadster sports car for $109,000 -- a price that's slimmed some after federal tax credits.
Last year, Tesla unveiled the prototype for a more affordable sedan: the Model S, priced at under $60,000.
The all-electric vehicle gets 160 to 300 miles on a single charge.
The car company's high costs have been buffered by government cash, with Tesla recently winning approval for a $465-million loan from the federal government.
Menlow said he expected high investor interest but said many would take a wait-and-see approach to how viable an investment in the car company would be.
"Making the jump from a concept to an IPO to a financially sound investment, there are many mountains to climb," he said.
"As we continue to get more information, it's not going to be the sex appeal of the technology anymore, it's going to be 'Are they going to be able to survive?' "