Dreamliner Flies, But Doubts Persist About Boeing’s Batteries

Now that Boeing has placed most of its 787s back into service, including those in United Airlines’ fleet, executives with both corporations are putting a happy face on the expensive hardship that was caused by the four-month grounding of the planes due to fire hazard risks.

United reinstated the so-called Dreamliners on May 20, when United CEO Jeff Smisek and Boeing CEO Jim McNerney hopped a flight from Houston to Chicago to show the troubles with the plane’s lithium ion batteries were behind them.

“I’ll tell you, Jim,” said Smisek, as recounted by the Associated Press, “it was a fairly expensive piece of sculpture to have on the ground, so we’re really delighted to have it up and flying.”

That’s not to say the Dreamliners are fixed. As NLPC reported last month, Boeing’s engineers don’t know what caused the fires in the first place, thus they can’t be … Read More ➡

Obama’s Electric Vehicle Loans Program is a Failure

Fisker logoMark it down: the report this month about the shutdown of Vehicle Production Group – beneficiary of a $50-million stimulus loan from the Department of Energy – means the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing initiative within the Loan Program Office has been a thorough failure.

All five ATVM recipients, awarded a total of $8.4 billion of taxpayer-backed financing under the Recovery Act, have earned derision to some degree. Most fit into the already much-ridiculed electric vehicles program. VPG was funded to produce wheelchair-accessible passenger vehicles that ran on compressed natural gas.

The recipients range from the start-ups (Fisker Automotive, Tesla and VPG) to the established (Ford Motor Company and Nissan). The highest-profile flop, by far, has been Fisker, with its single $102,000-plus electric model built for wealthy California elites that couldn’t muster a stronger review from Consumer Reports than “the fourth-worst luxury sedan” on the market, … Read More ➡

Were Republicans Targeted in GM and Chrysler Dealership Closures?

Chevrolet dealership photoThe IRS scandal that revealed targeting of conservative groups by the Treasury Department has reopened speculation that the Obama-orchestrated auto bailouts unfairly targeted Republican-leaning dealerships for closure. Republican Congressmen Mike Kelly (PA) and Jim Renacci (OH) have penned a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew requesting documentation so that an investigation can determine what criteria was used to shutter dealers that appear to have had one thing in common: their political affiliations.

The outrageous behavior of the IRS in targeting non-profit organizations with conservative roots, like the Tea Party, for extra scrutiny came at around the same time that General Motors and Chrysler were being guided through bankruptcy processes by the Treasury Department. Obama’s Auto Task Force required that GM and Chrysler close about 2,000 dealerships as part of the restructuring. This job-killing decision came at the same time that the Administration boasted about all the jobs that would be … Read More ➡

Chevy Volt Inventory Build – Time for Another Production Halt?

A recent search for new Chevy Volts on cars.com unearthed 9,254 vehicles currently at dealerships for sale. There were another 258 late-model, used Volts available. About half of those had less than 5,000 miles on them. Considering the abysmal sales rate for the self-proclaimed electric wonder-car (1,306 in April for those keeping track), the unofficial inventory numbers point to about a seven month supply of Volts available. Ideal inventory levels are considered to be in the two month range. It may be near time for General Motors to halt production, yet again, for the floundering Volt.

The inventory numbers for the Volt seem to be at all-time highs at a time when sales have shown no signs of revival. Barring a manipulation of demand, which GM has managed in the past by offering low-payment, subsidized leases through government-owned Ally Financial, it does not make any sense for Volts to continue … Read More ➡

Hold Off on Buying That Chevy Volt; Price to Drop $10,000 in Face of Dismal Sales

Volt and AkersonGreat news for consumers who are considering buying General Motors’ green wonder car, the Chevy Volt. I know how excited those environmentally conscientious Volt enthusiasts can get, but a little patience can pay off big time if potential buyers hold off for a year or so on their purchase. According to GM CEO Dan Akerson and following another dismal month of Volt sales (1,306 in April), the car that defies logic will soon be available for up to $10,000 less money. The good news extends to shareholders of GM as the next generation of the Volt will supposedly be profitable for the company. So, as we say prepare to say goodbye to the current generation of the obsolescent Volt, let’s take a trip down memory lane to review how past promises for the car panned out.

The Chevy Volt’s taxpayer-funded roots date back to the Bush Administration, with a concept … Read More ➡

EV Automaker Tesla Makes Profit— Off Taxpayers

NLPC Associate Fellow Paul Chesser was a guest last night on the Willis Report on Fox Business Network. Here’s a transcript:Gerri Willis: Unbelievable story. Well, meanwhile in the electric car world the Tesla company is set to announce the company’s first-ever quarterly profit this week, Wednesday. But reportedly what is driving this company into the black are California tax credits. That’s right. With more on this, Paul Chesser of the National Legal Policy Center. All right. How is it possible that this company is making money only because of tax credits? Is that your analysis, Paul?

Paul Chesser: Well, that’s what it looks like. In California they’ve got a unique economy in California where they set up these special deals for renewable energy, for electric cars, for manufacturers. And they get these credits. It is likely sort of a … Read More ➡

Leslie Dach Leaving Walmart Sustainable in All the Wrong Ways

Leslie DachThe top engineer of Walmart’s strategy to pursue left-wing priorities such as “sustainability” and backing Obamacare, as though those are what genuinely reflect “corporate responsibility,” is leaving.

Leslie Dach joined the Bentonville, Ark. retail behemoth seven years ago as vice president of corporate affairs. He previously worked for environmentally extreme groups and was “active as a senior strategist in Democrat politics,” according to his World Resources Institute bio. He worked in the Clinton administration, served as a senior adviser for Sen. John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign, and has been a top strategist for at least two Democratic conventions. He helped design the 2004 Boston convention and managed the Democrat response to the Republican convention that year, and is credited with managing the program at the convention in Los Angeles four years earlier.

Those credentials might not have seemed an appropriate fit for the supersized merchant with the anti-union conservative … Read More ➡

Boeing: Cause of Dreamliner Fires ‘Almost Doesn’t Matter’

battery photo“Attention ladies and gentlemen, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner will depart shortly – any potential fires caused by our lithium ion batteries will now be contained within the aircraft. Please line up at the gate for imminent boarding!”

Are you ready?

In case you missed it the Federal Aviation Administration, by publishing an Airworthiness Directive in the Federal Register last week, opened the door for the troubled “green” aircraft to return to service in the coming months. The document lays out the specifications required for Boeing to get the extremely costly project moving again, if the changes are implemented and FAA inspectors sign off.

But don’t call it a “fix,” because engineers don’t know what caused the fires in the first place. Boeing’s top engineer Michael Sinnett says the new configuration is designed to prevent a fire (the old one wasn’t??), according to the Associated Press, but even if … Read More ➡

Fisker Failure was Easy to See Coming

Biden/FiskerWhile hindsight may always be 20/20, foresight should be pretty clear in many instances as well. The Fisker failure was one of these times. Many saw the folly in spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to support the green debacle. In fact, the Associated Press has reported that even the Obama Administration had warning of the Fisker loan risks back in April of 2010 when the Energy Department began emailing their concerns.

Congress will be holding hearings starting today to address the scandalous waste of taxpayer money on Fisker. Reuters states one of the goals of the hearing, “‘The Obama Administration owes the American taxpayer an explanation as to why this bad loan was made in the first place, and what they are going to do to minimize the loss that taxpayers face,’ said Ohio Republican Jim Jordan, chairman of the subcommittee holding Wednesday’s hearing.” Perhaps we should also … Read More ➡

Will GM Earnings be Driven by Channel Stuffing?

GM logo and ObamaEarlier this year, I reviewed General Motors’ first quarter earnings report and annual results. My take-away from the report was that GM relied upon shady accounting techniques and a build-up of US dealer inventories to produce some rosy-looking results. Channel stuffing to the tune of an over 20% increase in inventory from year end 2011 provided for GM’s revenue growth. The trend continues as GM has further pumped-up inventory for quarter one.

The reason that dealer inventory figures are so important is that automakers record revenue when vehicles are shipped to dealerships, not when they are actually sold to consumers. It becomes fairly easy for a company like GM, which operates more with an eye on perception and politics rather than on sustainable profits (why else would they focus so much on the money-losing Chevy Volt?), to manipulate revenue and earnings by getting vehicles into dealerships’ lots. The first … Read More ➡

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