Just In Time for Tesla’s Latest Losses, Senate Wants to Waste More on EVs

Ernest MonizNothing of greater significance can be said about the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loan program other than it was a wasteful failure. Nonetheless 85 U.S. Senators have determined that an additional, similar $1.6 billion program must be created, as part of a larger energy bill that passed last month.

Those who favored the extension of corporate welfare for alternative energy-fueled automobiles justified their decision with the same phony claims they made ten years ago when the ATVM program was established.

“Our measure will help manufacturers and suppliers research and develop innovative technologies to make the next generation of fuel-efficient vehicles, spurring job growth and reducing our dependence on foreign oil,” said Democrat Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.

NLPC has documented the stumbles of the stimulus-fueled ATVM program – which still has $16 billion availableextensively. Two of its loan recipients, Fisker Automotive

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, …

Inspector General Says DOE Hid Vital Info from Audit of Bankrupt Ecotality

Blink chargerAfter an Inspector General’s audit earlier this year of now-bankrupt electric vehicle charging company Ecotality, which determined that millions of taxpayer dollars were wasted in a nearly unworkable program, the IG has returned with findings that the Department of Energy withheld information about the project’s problems during his first investigation.

The audit, released by DOE IG Gregory Friedman in July, determined (among other things) that the persistent weak demand for electric vehicles harmed the deployment and timeliness of a $135 million-plus taxpayer funded charging network, which led to excessive grants and project expansion that became virtually unusable under the grants’ guidelines. Investigators discovered that conditions for reimbursement to Ecotality for the EV charging demonstration project were “very generous” and that cost-sharing requirements were extremely lenient.

Shortly after that report was released, on August 7, Ecotality informed DOE that it was in financial distress and that its ability to do …

DOE Hid Info About Loan Recipient’s Bad Condition in April House Hearing

Fisker hearingBeing an Obama administration stimulus failure doesn’t mean you have to be electric, and it also doesn’t mean the Department of Energy won’t pretend you’re still legitimate when Congressional pressure is on.

The neutrally named Vehicle Production Group, which was loaned $50 million by the DOE thanks to the Recovery Act, revealed in May it had stopped operations in February and laid off 100 staff, after DOE froze its assets. Now, in a typical Obama administration “hope-they-don’t-notice” Friday announcement, DOE told American taxpayers that $42 million of that money won’t be paid back. Apparently there weren’t many assets left to freeze.

About $5 million was recovered by the government. The weekend info release said the rest of the debt was sold at auction for about $3 million to AM General, a Humvee manufacturer.

“After exhausting any realistic possibility for a sale that might have protected our …

New Energy Secretary Wants to Waste More Money on EV Loans

Ernest MonizJust when you thought the Loan Program Office in President Obama’s Department of Energy might put its unused electric auto loan money back in the Treasury coffers, the government investor-crats are going to try to find some takers for the dollars of disrepute that have been tainted by the likes of inoperative, nearly bankrupt Fisker Automotive and Vehicle Production Group.

You might remember when we last heard about the condition of this program, it had trouble finding takers for the remaining $16.5 billion or so it had been allocated. According to a March report produced by the Government Accountability Office that reviewed DOE’s loan programs, those who might otherwise be interested in the financial help cited things like bureaucratic red tape, reporting requirements, uncertainty about credit subsidy costs, lengthy review times, and the expenditure of time and resources for an uncertain outcome as obstacles. But what stood out …

Shallow Analysis Deems DOE Electric Vehicle Loans a Success

Elon MuskA popular automotive Web site’s attempt to set the record straight on the degree of success and failure of the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loan program was well-intentioned, but missed the mark on several points and overall gave the initiative far too much credit.

Jalopnik.com contributor Patrick George was pointed in the right direction when he characterized DOE’s boastful Loan Program Office as “rosy,” but more accurate descriptors would be “excessive” and “unrealistic.” It’s clear his analysis was one of an automotive enthusiast and reviewer, rather than someone who regularly watchdogs government with a skeptic’s eye and knows how bureaucrats fudge and exaggerate numbers to claim credit for their politician bosses. As NLPC has reported often, DOE – before a taxpayer-backed bank check was ever issued to an electric automaker – has made absolutely unbelievable claims about jobs, fuel savings and carbon dioxide emission reductions that were …

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, …