Examiner Editorial: Energy Department brags about cash for a clunker
June 23, 2012
Department of Energy officials are a bit sore about Solyndra, the solar panel company that received $535 million from their stimulus loan guarantee program and abruptly declared bankruptcy, leaving 1,800 workers without a job and taxpayers on the hook.
So, in order to combat the negative press about their green energy programs, DOE officials have created a slideshow highlighting their favorite loan recipients. They titled it “Beyond Solyndra” because they want Americans to understand that their program is about much more than one bad company. Or even three bad companies, if you count two other recent “green energy” bankruptcies — Beacon Power ($43 million DOE loan guarantee) and A123 Systems ($243 million DOE grant). But who’s counting?
The department’s “Beyond Solyndra” presentation laments all of the unfair news coverage. “[W]hile critics have focused their attention on the Department’s loan guarantee to Solyndra,” it states, “the full story is that the Department’s loan portfolio as a whole is having a transformative impact.” Indeed — DOE also funds transformative firms like Fisker, a Finnish electric car company that is featured in the department’s slideshow. Fisker received a $529 million loan guarantee. Fisker’s Karma, a $115,000 electric car, received the 2012 Design of the Year award from Automobile Magazine — a fact that DOE’s slideshow makes sure to mention.
Unfortunately, Fisker reportedly plans to cancel the manufacture of vehicles in the United States. Last May, its loan guarantee was frozen by DOE because, as a department spokesman explained at the time, “Fisker has experienced some delays in its sales and production schedule.” Two months after winning the design award, Fisker laid off 66 employees since it was running out of the $193 million of the loan that DOE had already disbursed.
In noting how cool Fisker’s Karma design really is, Automobile Magazine offered this caveat: “There is no way to know yet whether Fisker will be a Lamborghini-style success or a DeLorean-style failure.” The latter is looking increasingly likely. In April, Fisker threatened to pull out of Delaware unless it got more government help — three years after Vice President Biden’s 2009 visit to its factory there. That factory was supposed to employ about 2,500 people by now, but USA Today reported in April that it is “absolutely empty.”
Given all this, and the $193 million that taxpayers could lose, it is surprising that Fisker would be featured in the Obama administration’s official propaganda as a positive sign of what the Department of Energy is doing. On the other hand, it seems oddly fitting that President Obama’s administration would think it grounds to boast that it has subsidized a car that looks cool but doesn’t sell.
Digging a LITTLE DEEPER, one could find THIS: Read about by clicking on link as title below
Obama Admin Gave Half-Billion-Dollar Loan to Gore-Connected Electric Car Company to Build Cars in… Finland?
From The Blaze:
October 20, 2011
An electric car company that received more than a half-billion-dollar Obama administration-approved loan is reportedly now assembling its first line of cars in rural Finland, rather than in the United States. What’s more, the car company, Fisker Automotive, is funded by a venture capital firm whose partners include former Vice President Al Gore.
To make matters worse, Fisker is more than a year behind in rolling out its $97,000 luxury “Karma” car, funded in part with Department of Energy funds. A mere 40 Karmas have thus far been produced, with only two delivered to customers — one of whom is famed actor Leonardo DiCaprio.
With the approval of the Obama administration, an electric car company that received a $529 million federal government loan guarantee is assembling its first line of cars in Finland, saying it could not find a facility in the United States capable of doing the work.
Vice President Joseph Biden heralded the Energy Department’s $529 million loan to the start-up electric car company called Fisker as a bright new path to thousands of American manufacturing jobs. But two years after the loan was announced, the job of assembling the flashy electric Fisker Karma sports car has been outsourced to Finland.
“There was no contract manufacturer in the U.S. that could actually produce our vehicle,” the company’s founder and namesake told ABC News. “They don’t exist here.”
Henrik Fisker said the U.S. loan has been spent on engineering and design work that stayed in the U.S., not on the 500 manufacturing jobs that were exported to a rural Finnish firm, Valmet Automotive.
“We’re not in the business of failing; we’re in the business of winning. So we make the right decision for the business,” Fisker said. “That’s why we went to Finland.”
But shipping 500 jobs abroad is only part of the odd equation. According to ABC:
Fisker is part of a $1 billion bet the Energy Department has made in two politically connected California-based electric carmakers producing sporty — and pricey — cutting-edge autos. Fisker Automotive, backed by a powerhouse venture capital firm whose partners include former Vice President Al Gore, predicts it will eventually be churning out tens of thousands of electric sports sedans at the shuttered GM factory it bought in Delaware. And Tesla Motors, whose prime backers include PayPal mogul Elon Musk and Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, says it will do the same in a massive facility tooling up in Silicon Valley.
Meanwhile, Tesla’s SEC filings reveal the start-up has lost money every quarter, and while its federal funding is intended to help the company mass-produce a $57,400 Model S sedan, ABC reports that the carmaker has never tackled a project so vast — raising doubts about the company’s ability to produce.
An investigation by ABC News and the Center for Public Integrity’s iWatch News slated to air on “Good Morning America,” purportedly found that the DOE’s bet carries risks for taxpayers, has raised concern among industry observers and government auditors, and raised additional questions about the way in which billions of dollars in loans for smart cars and green energy companies are appropriated.
Ironically, the Fisker’s $100,000 price-tag eliminates the “other 99%” of the potential customer base. That may be just as well, since it offers worse fuel efficiency than many gas-guzzling SUV’s.
Yep, them EVIL Venture Capitalists that ship jobs overseas! Hey Progressives: What do you think about Al Gore now?
For those that can’t visualize a half billion:
Crony Capitalism a la Obama of taxpayer dollars.
Where is the UAW outrage?
Where is the Progressive outrage?
The Occupier’s outrage?
Or do they condone sending taxpayer dollars to FINLAND?
ADD THIS: Read by clcking on link in title below
From the Wall Street Journal:
September 25, 2009
WASHINGTON — A tiny car company backed by former Vice President Al Gore has just gotten a $529 million U.S. government loan to help build a hybrid sports car in Finlandthat will sell for about $89,000.
The award this week to California startup Fisker Automotive Inc .follows a $465 million government loan to Tesla Motors Inc., purveyors of a $109,000 British-built electric Roadster. Tesla is a California startup focusing on all-electric vehicles, with a number of celebrity endorsements that is backed by investors that have contributed to Democratic campaigns.
The awards to Fisker and Tesla have prompted concern from companies that have had their bids for loans rejected, and criticism from groups that question why vehicles aimed at the wealthiest customers are getting loans subsidized by taxpayers.
“This is not for average Americans,” said Leslie Paige, a spokeswoman for Citizens Against Government Waste, an anti-tax group in Washington. “This is for people to put something in their driveway that is a conversation piece. It’s status symbol thing.”
DOE officials spent months working with Fisker on its application, touring its Irvine, Calif., and Pontiac, Mich., facilities and test-driving prototypes.
Matt Rogers, who oversees the department’s loan programs as a senior adviser to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, said Fisker was awarded the loan after a “detailed technical review” that concluded the company could eventually deliver a highly fuel-efficient hybrid car to a mass audience. Fisker said most of its DOE loan will be used to finance U.S. production of a $40,000 family sedan that has yet to be designed.