In the end, even Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio, Justin Bieber, Jay Leno, former Chrysler and General Motors execs, billionaire Silicon Valley venture capitalists, generous California government incentive givers, Delaware subsidizers, and President Obama’s Department of Energy investment arm couldn’t overcome the dud that was the $102,000-plus Fisker Karma.
And now as the company desperately seeks for cash and/or a rescuer – probably in China – a disagreement arose between Fisker’s founder and its top management. So the man for whom the company was named, Henrik Fisker, quit. The Los Angeles Times and dozens of other outlets reported yesterday that Mr. Fisker left over disputes about “direction” for the company, citing “several major disagreements.”
But Automotive News seemed to have the inside track on the Danish designer’s thinking, after it was able to obtain an email interview.
“I’m proud of having brought the first luxury plug-in …
Stimulus déjà vu-lishness lurks: Another “green” tech company that received hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars is financially troubled, seeks a buyer (or their preferred term – a “partner”), and China is ready to swoop in and buy up the remains on the cheap. And the same two Republican senators who slammed the last deal that went down like this are sickened again.
The first time this happened it was electric car battery maker A123 Systems that set up a deal to get $249 million (plus other multimillion dollar grants) from U.S. taxpayers, who then got left holding the bag when executives ran the company into bankruptcy, made off with some sweet bonuses, and left the techno-carcass for China’s Wanxiang Group to buy and learn about American battery innovation from.
The potential repeat scenario that appears to be playing out features Fisker Automotive, which once was A123’s …
The past year was a dismal one for the passé idea that government would use taxpayer dollars responsibly, and that was nowhere more evident than with President Obama’s initiatives to promote “clean” energy technology companies and projects with so-called “stimulus” funds and other public money. NLPC reported extensively on some of the most egregious examples.
Solar Favors Don’t Stop Fizzle
Solyndra went bankrupt in 2011, and the reverberations over $535 million in lost taxpayer money were felt throughout 2012. Money still flowed out from the Department of Energy and its stimulus stash, but Congressional Republicans’ scrutiny of big projects – especially in the Loan Program Office –paralyzed some new projects.
The year began with BP, which not long ago downplayed fossil fuels in favor of a “Beyond Petroleum” motto, exiting the solar business despite having received a $7.5 million grant from the U.S. government …
Amidst its ongoing financial problems and search for a “strategic alliance” that it says is not an attempt to sell the company, Fisker Automotive continues to make its current business partners extremely nervous.
In particular are those “investors” that represent the taxpayers of Delaware, who foolishly committed $21 million in public money to the California-based company, in exchange for a promise to take over a former General Motors manufacturing plant to build its next electric car, the Atlantic. But rather than generate thousands of “green jobs,” instead the factory sits dormant while Gov. Jack Markell and the state’s economic development officials stew. And now the state has learned that if Fisker goes belly-up or fails to operate in Delaware, the repayment of the funds it has outlaid is subordinate to the rights of other lenders to get their money back, including the U.S. government.
The problem isn’t just …
The venture finance operation that raised money for crony capitalist investors Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers, and their green tech firms like electric car company Fisker Automotive ($193 million paid in stimulus loan guarantees) and fuel cell manufacturer Bloom Energy, is shutting down, according to a Fortune report.
Advanced Equities, Inc. had recently been reprimanded by the Securities and Exchange Commission and by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for misleading investors and for breach of contract with its brokers. Fortune cited sources that said AEI brokers were told last week that Monday would be their last day. Crain’s Chicago Business confirmed that AEI was shutting down its broker-dealer business following its regulatory troubles, which “made it difficult to run the business.”
The co-founders of the Chicago-based firm, Dwight Badger and Keith Daubenspeck, received a sharp reprimand and severe fines from the SEC in September for delivering …
The venture capital redistributionist game that surrounds President Obama’s green energy stimulus doesn’t necessarily require the actual delivery of taxpayer cash to crony corporations. Sometimes the malfeasance appears simply based upon the false promise of government “investment.”
Such was the case with the co-founders of Chicago-based Advanced Equities, Inc., who just received a severe reprimand (including big fines) from the Securities and Exchange Commission for dispensing false information to potential funders in attempts to gain private equity investment. In two separate offerings in 2009 and 2010, co-founder Dwight Badger (who left the firm in June) was accused of telling investors that the financial condition and business orders for Advanced Equities’ client – revealed to be fuel cell manufacturer Bloom Energy by Crain’s Chicago Business – far exceeded reality. Badger’s partner, co-founder and Board Chairman Keith Daubenspeck, was fined for “failing to reasonably supervise Badger.”
Advanced Equities also was the …
The top private equity raiser for troubled electric automaker Fisker Automotive, which has been the subject of investigations by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and Securities and Exchange Commission, has reportedly removed its co-founder and CEO.
Crain’s Chicago Business, citing “a company insider,” reported Friday that Advanced Equities Inc. has reached an agreement with Dwight Badger for him to leave the investment firm. The separation follows a demand by a FINRA arbitration panel for Advanced Equities to pay $4.5 million to one of its former brokers, John Galinsky, over breach of contract claims. Galinsky brought his complaint against the firm, Badger, and his co-founding partner, Keith Daubenspeck.
“The panel finds that Respondents exhibited a reckless disregard for the warrant rights of the broker and breached their fiduciary duties to the broker,” the FINRA dispute resolution said.
Advanced Equities raised the financing for Fisker, which has boasted that …
Fisker Automotive has implied that the Texas owner of one of its Karma models committed “fraud” or “malicious intent” in blaming the luxury electric vehicle for his garage fire last week, after he had to rescue his wife, mother and child from flames that spread quickly to his house.
The company’s claim could be a fatal public relations move, as the chief investigator in Fort Bend County Fire Marshal’s Office, Robert Baker, has also blamed the fire on the Karma. Fisker, recipient of $193 million (out of a $529 million total guarantee) loan backed by taxpayers via the Department of Energy, has suffered a series of publicity blunders including two recalls, a Karma breakdown at Consumer Reports’ test facility, a SEC investigation of its primary venture capital raisers, layoffs, and a cutoff of its loan by DOE.
According to a report by Autoweek, the fire started shortly …
Why are taxpayers forced to underwrite a loan for the producer of a $107,000 toy vehicle for the wealthy, the majority of which is assembled at a European auto plant?
Two weeks ago Republican Sens. Charles Grassley of Iowa and John Thune of South Dakota asked Energy Secretary Steven Chu those and some other pointed questions about his department’s decisions, in granting a $529 million taxpayer loan guarantee to Fisker Automotive, a luxury electric car manufacturer.
The politically connected automaker has stumbled a number of times in delivering its six-figure Karma to market, with two recalls related to battery defects, an investigation of its top venture capital raisers, and layoffs of dozens of “green jobs” that had been bragged about by the Obama administration.
The senators questioned the wisdom of extending the loan – which has now been suspended after issuance of $193 million because of Fisker’s troubles – …
This story has been updated below.
Automotive and green technology advocacy Web sites are abuzz with a story about a former employee of Fisker Automotive who claims the company released its $102,000-plus Karma electric sport sedan prematurely, in order to meet targets set forth by the Department of Energy so Fisker could access funds from a $529 million loan award.
This followed reports from all over the Internet that Consumer Reports purchased a Karma in Connecticut for $107,850, only to see it totally disabled before the magazine could run it through its tests.
The whistleblower story originated on the pro-Clean tech Web site Gigaom.com, and was written by electric vehicle cheerleader Katie Fehrenbacher. According to her report, “The former Fisker employee said that it wasn’t uncommon for the first Karma cars to have technical issues, and said that was one reason for leaving Fisker — the employee now works …