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

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 …

Energy Dept. Revives Stimulus Loans as Another Electric Vehicle Co. Stalls

Frito Lay Electric TruckAs Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced last week a renewed push to provide $16 billion in taxpayer-backed loans for “clean” technology vehicles, more bad news emerged from another stimulus-funded electric vehicle company over the weekend.

Smith Electric Vehicles, the truck company that was supposed to “make it” because electrification made so much sense for short, urban delivery routes, halted production at the end of 2013. A quarterly report at Recovery.gov attributed the stoppage to “the company’s tight cash flow situation.”

While not a beneficiary of the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program that Moniz wants to revive, Smith Electric is another reason why subsidies of any type for this floundering pseudo-industry – loans, grants, tax breaks, etc. – are enormous wastes. In light of the hundreds of millions of dollars that other companies like Fisker Automotive, Ecotality and A123 Systems received, Smith’s $32 million in grants is comparatively …

2013: Veils of Secrecy as More ‘Green’ Taxpayer Money Disappears

Money down the drainLast year at this time NLPC reviewed 2012 as “The Year of Taxpayer ‘Green’ Waste,” and that description applied to 2013 as well. But additional trends of government opaqueness and inattention to safety and security – often related to stimulus-funded programs and their corporate beneficiaries – were also revealed.

EPA, Dept. of Energy Secretive About Communications

As President Obama began his second term, watchdogs of the administration’s environmental (EPA, Dept. of Interior) and energy (Department of Energy) cabinet spaces discovered that officials maintained secret email accounts to conduct government business out of public view. Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute uncovered a fake identity maintained by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson while researching his book The Liberal War on Transparency. The effort to access her messages and those of other officials has been protracted.

EPA began producing records in January from Jackson’s “Richard Windsor” …

NHTSA to Investigate Tesla Fires as Battery Facts Remain Elusive

Tesla fireAfter three recent fires, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk said he asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to investigate its Model S.

NHTSA said no he didn’t.

Tesla has been saying it received the highest safety rating in the U.S., a “new combined record of 5.4 stars.”

NHTSA says there’s no such thing.

Musk said he expects the investigation will clear Tesla after incidents in which metal objects struck the underside where the Model S battery is located.

NHTSA says we’ll see, and a decision whether there should be a recall will likely take months. Maybe a lie detector test needs to be part of the study.

Musk thought he had averted scrutiny after the first fire in Washington state last month, when NHTSA declined to investigate the cause. Then another fire followed a collision in Mexico, and another blaze ignited in Tennessee a couple weeks …

Problems Pile up for Taxpayer-Subsidized Tesla

Tesla Tenn fireFires, faulty drive units, financial losses and stock price deflation marked Tesla Motors news in a week that seemed as bad as the last couple of years were good.

Fortunately for CEO Elon Musk and his support staff he’s mastered the art of celebri-preneur showmanship that he’s built enough standing with the media to endure a really bad week. The multi-billionaire who’s dazzled with innovation at Paypal, SpaceX and SolarCity will be permitted his stumbles because of his track record and his self-assurance. Henrik Fisker, whose taxpayer-backed luxury electric auto company didn’t get nearly the same favor, must be jealous.

But even Fisker Automotive didn’t suffer three vehicle fires in the space of six weeks, like Tesla’s Model S just did. The latest occurred Wednesday afternoon near Nashville.  The Tennessee Highway Patrol told Associated Press that the car’s driver ran over a tow hitch on Interstate 24. …

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 …

Critic: Tesla HAD to Repay Its Dept of Energy Loan to Avoid Default

Elon Musk IronManWhen it comes to Tesla Motors, an irrational exuberance has overtaken Wall Street, the Department of Energy, electric car advocates, government interventionists, crony capitalists, techie nerds and Elon Musk fanboys everywhere.

The praise comes rapid fire: $20 billion market capitalization! It’s worth more than Chrysler! Its stock price is at $169! They’ve had two consecutive profitable quarters! They paid back their government loan early! The Model S is the safest car of all time! Consumer Reports says it’s almost perfect! Its batteries don’t burn up!

But the media has not tried to mute the celebration too much with the reality that much of Tesla’s “success” has come thanks to government mandates, subsidies, and taxpayer support. NLPC reported last month, for example, that Tesla’s second quarter results included $51 million in zero-emission credits revenue thanks to a warped California vehicle …

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 …