One 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 … Read More ➡
Giant technology companies who deliver much of their services via “cloud” computing – such as Apple, Google, and Facebook – have claimed for years that they generate the massive amounts of electricity they need from renewable sources, despite their obvious dependence on fossil fuels.
For example, Apple has said it has “achieved 100 percent renewable energy at all of our data centers,” but as NLPC has reported and an investigation by liberal Web site Truthout.org confirmed, Apple does not power its servers with “green” alternative energy. Instead – as in the case with its western North Carolina facility – Apple sells the power from the solar farms and fuel cells it owns in NC to utility Duke Energy, and also buys renewable energy certificates (or “indulgences”) to “offset” the carbon dioxide emissions its electricity produces.
“Purchasing offsets is not the same as actually powering something with renewable … Read More ➡
A report by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Homeland Security has found that the Department’s Federal Protective Service (FPS) division wasted about $2.5 million of taxpayer money in 2014 on an extravagant fleet vehicle program. It is not surprising that images show that the vehicles in question appear to be manufactured by crony company, General Motors.
A House of Representatives Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency, headed by Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), requested the audit on the FPS’ fleet operation. The report unveils a fleet of 1,169 vehicles which were leased at an operating cost of $10.7 million. That’s over $9,000 a year per vehicle or over $750 a month. Would any taxpaying individual agree to a personal lease deal for that amount? Probably not, but the Obama Administration has no problem spending the taxpayers’ money to lease vehicles which apparently come primarily … Read More ➡
The Wall Street Journal has reported that the UAW’s voluntary employees’ beneficiary association (VEBA) fund was underfunded by approximately $20.7 billion in 2014, which was the latest reported period. The shortfall has grown from the previously reported 2013 figure when the trust was estimated to be 93% funded. The latest funding figure, which was hurt by growing medical benefits costs, plummeted to 74% in one year.
The VEBA fund was established in order to transfer liability of retiree medical benefits costs from General Motors, Ford and Chrysler (now Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) to the UAW prior to GM going bankrupt in 2009. In fact, the fund was one of the primary driving forces of GM’s bankruptcy as the company agreed to fund the account with $30 billion as part of the agreement; money they didn’t have.
Total net assets for the VEBA trust stood at about $60 billion in 2014. … Read More ➡
General Motors’ CEO, Mary Barra, continued to project a bright future for the automaker during a recent presentation to shareholders. The prognostication gave a rosy appraisement for financial estimates as far out as 2020, when Barra says GM will have between $9 billion to $10 billion in free cash flow. Her crystal ball also shows that electric cars will compete with gas-powered vehicles by 2022 and that global car sales will increase by 50% to 130 million by the year 2030.
It is very difficult to predict future profitability in the very cyclical auto industry, but GM is desperate to give its shareholders some hope. GM share price has far underperformed broader markets since the company’s 2010 IPO and still trades below the $33 offering price. The S&P 500 index has gone up by about 70% compared to GM’s decline since trading began. Putting aside the fact that 2020 cash … Read More ➡
The response of the Justice Department to General Motors’ ignition switch defect cover-up was announced last week. GM’s failure to address the deadly defect led to the loss of lives of at least 169 people. Any hopes for the families of the victims that the crony status of GM would not stand in the way of justice were squashed as the company was given a slap on the wrist by its friends at the Obama Administration.
The Justice Department’s news release regarding the meager $900 million penalty reeked of hypocrisy as it tried to paint a picture of a repentant GM while admitting the company was guilty as charged. From the release:
SIGTARP Special Inspector General Christy Goldsmith Romero said: “General Motors’ criminal conduct found by SIGTARP and our law enforcement partners defies comprehension. Our investigation uncovered that GM learned about a life-threatening ignition switch defect that would cause air
… Read More ➡
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ CEO Sergio Marchionne’s quest to merge his company with General Motors continues to garner attention and draw suggestions that GM might be shooting itself in the foot by ignoring the offer to talk. Two respected sources weighed in on the drama, most notably CNBC anchor and ex-hedge fund manager Jim Cramer who has lost confidence in GM management and dumped his shares of the company.
In a TheStreet.com piece, Cramer was rightfully complimentary of Marchionne’s talents. Marchionne is a savvy leader who took advantage of the Obama Administration’s desperation, lack of vision and poor negotiating skills during the 2009 auto bailout process when the Italian automaker was given a free stake in a sinking Chrysler corporation at the low point of the auto sales cycle. Cramer was also right on point with his criticism of GM CEO Mary Barra. From the piece:
As for Cramer, he said
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Rumors have circulated that General Motors is considering building Buick SUVs in China which would be sold both there and in the USA. The timing of the leaked plans could not be worse as China markets continue to collapse, spreading contagion to world markets. The timing also coincides with GM’s negotiations with the UAW, raising the suspicion that GM is using the rumor to leverage their bargaining power with the UAW.
Why is GM focusing so much on the Chinese market at the worst of times? Regardless of the weakening Chinese economy, it would be challenging to convince American consumers to purchase SUVs built in China given the perception of lower quality and safety standards. China also has not been the best of US allies considering ongoing computer hacking allegations, aggressive military build-ups and unfair currency devaluation tactics.
The UAW should call GM’s bluff on its Chinese gambit. If GM … Read More ➡
Elon Musk still hasn’t given up his quarterly earnings schtick – in which he glosses over ongoing failures and points to his latest tech idea (which is not really new) – and why should he? No reason to quit until it’s clear Wall Street has stopped worshiping.
Oh, sure, after another dismal performance (operating loss of $47 million) for Tesla Motors during the most recent quarter, its stock price took an immediate dive of 9-10 percent. But while that merely returned the electric automaker back to irrational exuberance territory – as compared to the drunken sailor highs it has enjoyed in recent months – it didn’t take long for some market analyst to restore the inflation.
Regardless, last week cast more doubt on Tesla’s condition. After Reuters reported that the company loses more than $4,000 per Model S it markets and sells, the electric automaker announced it would … Read More ➡
General Motors’ shares have taken a hit this week with the catalyst for the latest downturn being news out of China. Continued weakness in China (including weakening car sales) has led the country to devalue its currency in an attempt to bolster its economy at the expense of its trading partners. This latest news confirms my views that GM’s China gamble puts the company and its shareholders at increased risk. The horrible performance of GM’s stock over the past few months also brings into question the rationale for the much-hyped share buyback that was instigated by ex-Obama Auto Task Force member, Harry Wilson, in photo.
Mr. Wilson was one of the primary architects of the auto bailouts which gave about $30 billion of American taxpayer money (along with approximately $10 billion from Canada) to GM to guide them through their Obama-orchestrated bankruptcy process in 2009. Less than six years later, Wilson … Read More ➡