Tesla Wants to Put ‘Gigafactory’ Battery Plant in Nevada

Elon Musk ModelSOnly a year after Tesla Motors and CEO Elon Musk extracted themselves from the $465-million taxpayer stimulus loan that brought critical scrutiny to the company’s performance, the electric automaker has once again put itself under the spotlight that comes with taking government corporate welfare.

Today the company will announce its plans to build a battery manufacturing plant near Reno. The new gambit was the culmination of competition that pitted at least five states against one another for the “privilege” of hosting Tesla’s “Gigafactory” – named so because of the amount of stored power they plan to produce. Cost to build the plant is estimated to be $5 billion, and Musk said he expected the winning bidder to cover at least 10 percent of that, according to the Associated Press. That means at least $500 million in some form of incentives or conciliations from Silver State taxpayers.

The dance …

Fisker Execs Kept Salaries While Employees, Taxpayers Got Taken

Fisker hearingThirteen of Fisker Automotive executives made more than six figures in the past year, despite manufacturing zero cars.

The news was first reported Wednesday afternoon on the automotive Web site Jalopnik.com, and later in the evening by the Delaware Journal. Jalopnik often gets the scoops when electric cars catch fire. For those unaware of the ugly saga, Fisker declared bankruptcy at the end of last month after squandering more than $1.4 billion in private investment and losing $139 million of taxpayers’ money.

According to news reports, including one from the Journal a year ago, not a single Fisker Karma – the $102,000 (base price) luxury electric plug-in embraced by the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Al Gore – has been produced since July 2012. Hopeful workers in Wilmington, Del. –where company officials and local politicians loudly announced the revival of a former General Motors plant for the …

Delaware Taxpayers Out $21M Thanks to DOE’s Fisker Flop

A123 logoThere’s a postscript to the Fisker Automotive bankruptcy story from earlier this week: The actions by the Department of Energy in awarding the unworthy luxury electric automaker a $529 million loan gave them validation, to the point where the state of Delaware made its own “investment” with state taxpayers’ money in the company.

Now that the collapse is official, Delawareans are out too.

To be sure, state government officials are accountable for their own foolish decisions. They 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 second electric car model, the Atlantic. But rather than generate thousands of “green jobs,” instead the factory sat dormant while Gov. Jack Markell and the state’s economic development officials waited for Fisker to come and resurrect the plant to life again. It never happened, and …

Not Even Fisker’s Fire Sale Can Dampen DOE Enthusiasm for ‘Investments’

Fisker logoAfter the Department of Energy announced this week it had given up on not-bankrupt-but-should-be Fisker Automotive, and will auction off its loan for a pittance, you’d think (and hope) Congress would have had enough of this kind of thing. Senator John Thune certainly has.

“The Obama administration has gotten into the business of picking winners and losers at a significant cost to taxpayers,” said the South Dakota Republican yesterday. “I’m calling for the Senate to consider my amendment to eliminate the wasteful ATVM loan program and for my colleagues to join me in protecting taxpayer dollars from any future risky green energy investments.”

ATVM stands for “Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing,” but Fisker’s allegedly advanced technology vehicle – the once and often hyped Karma – hasn’t been manufactured for over a year. Nor is Vehicle Production Group, another failed ATVM recipient, producing any handicapped vans that run on compressed natural …

Details Revealed of Fisker’s Waste and Mismanagement

Fisker logoAs NLPC has covered Fisker Automotive’s catastrophic flop over the last few years since it was granted a $529-million taxpayer-guaranteed loan from the Department of Energy, one big question that repeatedly came up was: How could a company that produced only one electric car model burn through $1.4 billion in investment so quickly?

Reuters uncovered a number of reasons in a report published earlier this week. Citing documents and some sources, mostly anonymous, the news syndicate painted a disturbing picture of mismanagement, incompetence, disinformation, and squander. While businesses stumble and go out of business every day, Fisker’s case illustrates why government bureaucrats are only accidental successes as investors of public money at best, but often are horrific decision makers at worst.

“Fisker’s undoing had numerous causes,” Reuters reported. “Fundamentally, say suppliers and some insiders, executives simply couldn’t orchestrate the complex dance that leads from a design sketch to …

Lawsuit and a Congressional Hearing as Fisker Bankruptcy Nears

Fisker logoAs green energy stimulus recipients raked in billions of dollars the last few years, with President Obama declaring what a great “investment” they were for taxpayers, friends of mine would jokingly ask, “Where’s my dividend?” “Where are my stock certificates?” “Where’s my free electric car?!” 

In the case of our $193-million stake in Fisker Automotive, thanks to a Department of Energy loan guarantee, it looks like American shareholders will end up with the whole company itself.

With the Anaheim non-automaker (no cars produced since last summer) firing about 160 of its 200 remaining employees on Friday, a bankruptcy law firm hired, and no buyer to pick over the $102,000 Karma model’s carcass, the Chicago Tribune reported Monday the imminent insolvency “could leave the federal government essentially owning” Fisker.

That would be quite a feat, since it’s been widely reported that Fisker drew more than $1 billion in private investment …

Al Gore, DiCaprio AWOL as Fisker Circles the Drain

Al Gore photo

UPDATE 11:30 a.m. Friday: Reuters reports that Fisker has hired a bankruptcy attorney.

Fisker Automotive, which has received $193 million of a $529 million Department of Energy stimulus loan guarantee and apparently still wants the rest of it, stopped making its sole electric car – the $102,000-plus Karma – last July. But only now has it decided to furlough workers for a week.

“In parallel with the process of identifying a strategic partner, Fisker is, of course, continuing to manage its day-to- day operations and has recently instituted temporary furloughs for its U.S. workforce covering the final week of March,” the company said.

The announcement came this week from the company, which despite having raised more than $1.2 billion in private capital, hasn’t been able to keep the factory lines running. In its official statement, though, Fisker said that’s quite normal.

“This is a common practice, …

China Can’t Appreciate Obama-Biden Vision for Fisker in Delaware

Biden Strickland photo

For weeks now the buzz about Fisker Automotive, the latest Department of Energy-funded clunker, is that two China-based automotive companies – Zhejiang Geely Holding Group (which owns Volvo) and Dongfeng Motor Corp. (which is state-owned) – were in bidding negotiations to buy an ownership stake of an unknown size. The speculation was that Fisker was following a similar path as stimulus-financed A123 Systems, which supplied the batteries for Fisker and was recently bought by Sino-owned Wanxiang Group.

But what seemed like the inevitable has been halted if a Wall Street Journal report (subscription-only) from Tuesday is to be believed. Apparently Fisker’s management still thinks it can access the remainder of a $529-million DOE loan, which it had received a portion of ($193 million) before its shortcomings forced the feds to say “no mas.” According to one of the newspaper’s sources, Fisker negotiators proposed to the …

Henrik Fisker Quits as Chairman of His Own Company

Fisker logoIn 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 …

Taxpayer-Supported Fisker Looking to China, Like A123

Fisker logoStimulus 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 …