Tesla invests $1.5 billion in Bitcoin, plans to accept as payment

SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk poses on the red carpet of the Axel Springer Award 2020 on December 01, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Britta Pedersen-Pool/Getty Images)

Tesla Inc. bought $1.5 billion in Bitcoin and said it plans to accept the digital currency as payment for its high-performance electric cars soon. 

The Palo Alto-based automaker said Monday in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that its efforts with bitcoin are to "further diversify and maximize returns" on their cash.

"We may invest a portion of such cash in certain alternative reserve assets including digital assets, gold bullion, gold exchange-traded funds and other assets as specified in the future," read the filing. "Moreover, we expect to begin accepting bitcoin as a form of payment for our products in the near future, subject to applicable laws and initially on a limited basis, which we may or may not liquidate upon receipt."  

Following the filing, the price of Bitcoin jumped 15 % to $43,863, briefly hitting a new high as Tesla shares rose as well. 

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Tesla said it had cash and equivalents of nearly $20 billion in a fourth-quarter earnings report last month as the company reported its first annual net profit in 2020. Stocks soared and Tesla became the most valuable automaker.  

Bitcoin, which has had a turbulent few years since debuting on Wall Street in 2017, grew from as low as $11,000 a coin in October last year to more than $41,000 in early January. 

CEO Elon Musk recently tweeted positive messages about Bitcoin and Dogecoin, a digital currency created as a joke that rallied to a record high on Monday following social media cheerleading from Musk, rapper Snoop Dogg and rocker Gene Simmons, according to data from CoinMarketCap

In the past, Musk has been in hot water over market-moving tweets. He stepped down as chairman as part of a $40 million settlement in a lawsuit that alleged he misled investors after tweeting he was going to take the company public at $420 a share. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.