Brit Investment Company Gives Up on US Electric Truck Maker

Frito Lay Electric TruckA British investment company has thrown in the towel on an electric delivery truck manufacturer that it once wholly owned, saw fail, then spun off in the United States at the height of President Obama’s green energy stimulus subsidy mania.

U.K.-based Tanfield Group announced at the end of June that it wrote down the value of the last 5.76 percent ownership stake it held in Smith Electric Vehicles, which received $32 million in U.S. taxpayer funds as a formerly British entity that reconstituted and relocated in Kansas City in 2009. The move by Tanfield followed Smith’s legal action filed against business partner FDG Electric Vehicles, in which it alleged “fraudulent misstatements” against the Chinese company that had enticed it into an agreement.

“The [Tanfield] board of directors has carried out a review of the investment in Smith resulting in a decision to impair the investment value to nil,” the …

Chinese Said To Turn Obama’s Stimulus Lemons Into Lemonade

Jason ForcierOne of the stimulus-funded alternative energy companies that National Legal and Policy Center reported about most the last few years was A123 Systems, which the Department of Energy awarded $279 million to crank out special batteries for electric vehicles.

The examples of government failures in picking successes in industries and economies are countless, with President Obama’s plan for subsidies of a million electric cars on U.S. roads by 2015 serving as Exhibit One. He was only off by several hundred thousand.

But that doesn’t mean that vultures can’t consume the carcasses left behind, which is exactly what the Chinese did with A123. As Bloomberg reported last week, the multinational automotive parts corporation Wanxiang Group is running the company to try to meet market demands and is “having better luck.”

Whether “fortune” is leading A123 to an ultimately healthier place is still undetermined, but Wanxiang …

Chinese Swoop in on Taxpayer-Subsidized Electric Truck Maker

Smith Electric logoThe painful and fruitless existence of Smith Electric Vehicles, waster of $32 million in U.S. taxpayer funds, has been extended after yet another near bankruptcy.

The Kansas City electric delivery truck manufacturer, whose actual business negotiates in government grants, tax breaks and other subsidies – rather than a product anyone actually wants to pay for – had announced at the end of September, via its British investor Tanfield Group, that it needed to raise $4.5 million by October 2nd and $10 million by the end of the month. Without the cash infusion, Tanfield said, “the company is likely to be forced to seek protection under US bankruptcy laws or close down its operations.”

Yesterday Tanfield notified its own investors that Smith Electric had “raised a loan” of $2.9 million thanks to help from – as you might guess – a Chinese manufacturer, FDG Electric Vehicles Limited

Electric Truck Company Looks Like Next Stimulus-Funded Bankruptcy

Frito Lay Electric TruckAn electric truck manufacturer that was awarded $32 million from President Obama’s stimulus program has informed one of its investors that it is on the verge of bankruptcy, if it did not raise $4.5 million by Friday and $10 million by the end of October.

The troubled saga of Smith Electric Vehicles should be particularly sickening for taxpayers because it sprouted out of a similar failed company, of the same name, in Great Britain. Smith, as part of the U.K.-based Tanfield Group, stumbled out of Europe and re-established itself in Kansas City – opportunistically at the time that President Obama was rolling out his plans to “stimulate” the “green” energy sector in early 2009.

More on that momentarily, after a look at Smith’s current desperation. According to reports from investment Web sites in England, Tanfield – which currently holds a 5.8 percent ownership stake – was notified last week …

Tesla, Nissan Take Financial Hits as States Remove EV Subsidies

Elon Musk ModelSIt’s been six years since electric vehicle manufacturers enjoyed their windfall from U.S. taxpayers via the stimulus, but the thirst for subsidies, and pain from financial losses, have not waned.

The pursuit of government goodies continues apace for Tesla Motors, even more vigorously after the Los Angeles Times reported last month that CEO Elon Musk depends on more than $4.9 billion in corporate welfare for his companies, which also include SolarCity and SpaceX.

Tesla’s quest may more accurately be portrayed as preservation of the golden goose that is California’s zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) credit scheme. The Golden State requires the six largest auto manufacturers to produce a certain percentage of vehicles that are “green” – in other words, electric – or to purchase zero-emission “credits” from companies that do, such as Tesla. According to the Christian Science Monitor, Tesla is the largest seller of ZEV credits, …

GAO Challenges Energy Dept. on Green Loan Success Claims

Peter DavidsonBack in November the Department of Energy boasted that its loan program for renewable energy technologies and “advanced” (mostly electric) vehicles had achieved a positive balance, which many in the media lapped up after so many failures such as Solyndra.

But now that the Government Accountability Office has revealed in a detailed study that the true cost of the loan program to taxpayers is $2.2 billion – plus administrative expenses – journalists are nowhere to be found. As for DOE, they still stick to their story.

The GAO explained that the staggering sum reflects the “credit subsidy cost” of the loans and loan guarantees in the portfolios of Loan Guarantee Program and the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program, which now have been combined. The credit subsidy cost is defined by GAO as “the net present value of the difference between projected cash flows to and from the government over the …

Alcoa Gets First Loan From Energy Dept. Program— But Doesn’t Need It

Ernest MonizA stimulus-backed Department of Energy loan program that has not been tapped for four years, and was deemed unwanted two years ago by the Government Accountability Office, is suddenly ready and willing to dole out more taxpayer millions again – to a corporation that doesn’t need it.

In fact, Alcoa’s expansion project for which the funding is targeted – to produce special aluminum for automotive companies in Tennessee – has already been underway for 19 months and was first revealed almost two years ago.

DOE announced on Thursday that the renewed activity out of its Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program will deliver a $259 million loan to the multinational conglomerate. The excuse for the financing – considering that ATVM’s purpose was to support production of alternative energy-powered automobiles – is to produce “high-strength” aluminum for automakers “looking to lightweight their vehicles.” Yes, they used “lightweight” as a verb, …

Apple Accused of Poaching Chinese Know-How Paid for by US Taxpayers

Lu GuanqiuSince 2011 NLPC has tracked the stimulus-funded fiascoes that were/are battery-maker A123 Systems and luxury electric automaker Fisker Automotive, who at one point were business partners (or stuck with each other, depending on your perspective). Both eventually went bankrupt, and cost taxpayers millions of dollars from Department of Energy awards that were never paid back. Chinese company Wanxiang Group ended up with both failed enterprises, buying their assets for cheap.

While the Obama administration declared the two bankruptcies (among others, such as Solyndra) part of their “successful” green energy investment strategy, two Republican Senators – Charles Grassley of Iowa and John Thune of South Dakota – have applied pressure to DOE over the fate of American jobs and intellectual property created by A123 and Fisker, but paid for with U.S. tax dollars.

Now, as the Senators continue to express concern about DOE policy over innovations …

Is Tesla Shine Wearing Off as 2014 Closes?

Elon Musk IronManIt’s been another year of unwarranted enthusiasm for Tesla Motors and CEO Elon Musk, who parlayed that exuberance for his unprofitable company into a $1.3 billion incentives package from the state of Nevada.

But despite that legislatively unanimous award from three months ago, and a stock price that has flown high for most of the year, there are signs that the shine over the luxury electric automaker is beginning to dull.

Perhaps the most noteworthy skepticism has arisen from popular automotive Web site Jalopnik, which otherwise has been a fairly reliable (but not robotically so) cheerleader for Tesla. An end-of-year article written by blogger Damon Lavrinc recounts the automaker’s legacy of non-fulfillment and asks, “What will Tesla and Elon Musk over-promise next?”

“So where are those battery-swapping stations Tesla promised?” Lavrinc wonders. “Or its big push into the energy storage biz? Didn’t we hear something about the …

Will Nissan Abandon Its $1.4B Stimulus-Backed Battery Factory?

Ghosn photoReuters sources inside Nissan are saying the production of batteries in Tennessee for the all-electric Leaf, which stimulus-subsidizing U.S. taxpayers backed with a $1.4 billion loan, could be eliminated.

According to the report, at minimum there is sharp debate over whether the company will continue to manufacture electric vehicle batteries in-house or contract with an outside supplier. Nissan partner Renault, which has 43.4 percent shareholder ownership in the joint company, is said to be pushing for outsourcing battery production – possibly to LG Chem. None who revealed the information were identified for the Reuters story.

“We set out to be a leader in battery manufacturing but it turned out to be less competitive than we’d wanted,” said a Nissan executive to Reuters, on condition of anonymity. “We’re still between six months and a year behind LG in price-performance terms.”

If they’re really thinking about a move …