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Tesla Motors is seeking to raise $1.5 billion in a bond offering to help finance production of the the Model 3 sedan.

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Tesla Motors, via Associated Press

Elon Musk is an entrepreneur in a bubble.

Forced to choose between issuing a bit more of Tesla’s turbocharged stock or tapping the overheated junk-bond market to finance the Model 3 ramp-up, Mr. Musk, the company’s founder, opted for the latter. It raises execution risk for the $60 billion electric-car maker, but not by enough to persuade the chief executive to loosen his grip on the wheel.

Tesla has just over $3 billion in cash, but it is burning through roughly $1 billion a quarter as it embarks on one of the most daunting gambits in automotive history: taking production of its mass-market vehicle from zero to 400,000 or more a year in just 18 months.

Fortunately for Mr. Musk, investors can’t seem to shower his ambitions with too much money. Tesla’s stock has risen by 67 percent this year. The company is valued at some 27 times 2020 earnings, implying the kind of growth that even the most bullish of analysts don’t expect, according to Reuters Breakingviews calculations.

The textbook financing solution would be to issue more of that high-priced paper. Selling five million shares at a 15 percent discount to market would raise the same $1.5 billion and dilute Mr. Musk’s 20.4 percent stake by only 3 percent, assuming he didn’t pitch in more himself.

But he doesn’t have to when the high-yield bond market is on a tear. Investors desperate for income have depressed the yield gap between single-B-rated junk bonds and United States Treasury bonds by nearly 2 percentage points over the past year, to 3.59 points, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings affirmed its B-minus rating on Tesla, saying the boost to liquidity should offset the company’s “significant execution risks.”

The bond sale will raise debt to a lofty 5.5 times forecast 2017 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or Ebitda. But Ebitda is set to more than double next year to $2.2 billion and then almost triple by 2020, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Even if Mr. Musk is not as successful as Wall Street estimates, he should sell more than enough cars to make the leverage, and the additional interest bill, easy for bondholders to swallow.

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