Chevy Volt Pep Rally Masquerades as Electric Vehicle Safety Symposium

Chevy Volt chargerThe Department of Transportation and NHTSA have announced that a “technical symposium” will be held on May 18th “to discuss safety considerations for electric vehicles powered by lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries.” In addition to NHTSA’s presentations, the Department of Energy, automotive manufacturers and battery makers will participate. Given the bias of the participants, the symposium sounds like it is going to be less informational and more infomercial.

The press release for the gathering states, “Electric vehicles show great promise as an innovative and fuel-efficient option for American drivers. Significant research and other activities related to the safety of these vehicles are ongoing by NHTSA, the Department of Energy (DOE), vehicle and battery manufacturers, standards organizations, and others.” I think that gives a hint as to where this is going. Add to this the fact that the Obama Administration agencies involved have all celebrated the rollout of the Chevy Volt and … Read More ➡

Taxpayers Subsidize Forbes ‘Green’ Billionaires’ Schemes

Vinod Khosla

This story has been updated below.

The three top U.S. tycoons on Forbes’s “Green” billionaires list have received billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies for their clean technology companies, after they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for political campaigns and lobbying.

Two of the moguls, Elon Musk and Vinod Khosla (in photo), are technology pioneers based in California with net worths of $2 billion and $1.3 billion, respectively. The third, Christy Walton, is the widow of the late John Walton who was an heir to the Walmart fortune. Forbes says she is “the world’s richest woman” is worth $24.8 billion.

Significant percentages of Musk’s and Khosla’s value are derived from “eco-friendly” holdings. Musk’s main green investments are in Tesla Motors, an electric automaker, and SolarCity. Among Khosla’s clean-tech assets are KiOR and Gevo, both biofuels companies, and Calera Corporation, a company that uses captured carbon … Read More ➡

Obama’s Gamble on GM Worse than JPM’s Trading Flub

When JPM Chase reported that it had lost $2 billion recently on risky derivative trades, the predictable call came from the Obama Administration to increase regulation on banks. The hypocrisy of the politically motivated proclamations becomes evident when you compare the JPM trades to Treasury’s continued gamble on its taxpayer funded stake in General Motors, which has suffered an approximate $5 billion loss in value over the past year.

US taxpayers unwillingly own 500 million shares or 32% of General Motors’ stock, courtesy of Team Obama. The Administration has had the ability to sell the stake for over a year now. Treasury’s performance as market timer for America is lagging the overall markets. For the past year, GM shares have declined about 30% compared to a flat S&P 500 index. The performance is far worse than JPM’s and Obama should take his own advice and stop gambling with taxpayer money.… Read More ➡

Ally Financial – Another Auto Bailout Bankruptcy

The Obama Administration has become quite the expert on bankruptcy filings. The Detroit Free Press reports that the third auto bailout partaker, Ally Financial, has filed bankruptcy for its mortgage subsidiary, ResCap. The government still owns 74% of Ally, and now has an 0 for 3 record on restructuring bailed out auto-related companies outside of bankruptcy.

Three years ago the Obama Administration, particularly the Auto Task Force, had a mission to restructure General Motors, Chrysler and GM’s lending arm, GMAC. The stated goal was to restructure the auto industry players outside of bankruptcy. This stated goal turned out to be a deception as plans were in place to orchestrate a bankruptcy procedure that would first see Chrysler go through a manipulated pilot process that went smoothly enough for GM to follow the same template.

GMAC, now Ally Financial, was the mostly-overlooked player in the game. GMAC made the poor decision … Read More ➡

Nissan Seeks Leaf Buyers from Among ‘Pragmatists’

Nissan LeafNow that Nissan believes it has captured all the “early adopters” of its all-electric Leaf, its North American subsidiary plans to market the 73-mile-per-charge (they used to say it was 100 miles) vehicle to “pragmatists.”

These practical patrons, according to Executive Vice President Andy Palmer, will not be drawn from the limited ranks of environmental activism, but instead will consist of everyday Joes “who will see the dollars-and-sense benefits of driving one,” reports USA Today.

“There’s no reason, though the life cycle of Leaf, why we shouldn’t have a profitable car,” Palmer told the newspaper at the Electric Car Symposium in Los Angeles. “We needed economies of scale. I see no reason why it shouldn’t be profitable.”

The reason “scale” is needed is Nissan will soon have to justify the mass production of the poor-selling Leaf in the U.S., after it received a $1.45 billion loan guarantee from … Read More ➡

Non-Union Retirees Shafted in Auto Bailouts Told to Get Jobs

One of the most egregious abuses of the Obama Administration’s auto bailouts was the blatant favoritism evidenced in the treatment of Delphi (General Motors’ parts supplier) retirees. After the Delphi bankruptcy, UAW retirees had their pensions “topped off” by General Motors, apparently with taxpayer money accessed through TARP. While the UAW retirees maintained their pension benefits, non-union, salaried retirees of Delphi lost theirs. There was no logical reason for one group to have their pensions saved while another group lost theirs, just the facts that the distributions were inequitable and the only difference between the groups was that one belonged to a powerful ally of Team Obama and the other did not.

Evidence now surfaces of the Obama Administration rubbing salt in the wounds of the non-politically connected retirees. When the salaried retirees requested help from President Obama to restore their pension benefits, the Department of Labor’s Director of Recovery Read More ➡

Fisker Insinuates Customer to Blame for Karma Fire

Fisker logoFisker Automotive has implied that the Texas owner of one of its Karma models committed “fraud” or “malicious intent” in blaming the luxury electric vehicle for his garage fire last week, after he had to rescue his wife, mother and child from flames that spread quickly to his house.

The company’s claim could be a fatal public relations move, as the chief investigator in Fort Bend County Fire Marshal’s Office, Robert Baker, has also blamed the fire on the Karma. Fisker, recipient of $193 million (out of a $529 million total guarantee) loan backed by taxpayers via the Department of Energy, has suffered a series of publicity blunders including two recalls, a Karma breakdown at Consumer Reports’ test facility, a SEC investigation of its primary venture capital raisers, layoffs, and a cutoff of its loan by DOE.

According to a report by Autoweek, the fire started shortly after … Read More ➡

Duke Power Plant Boondoggle to Cost Customers Plenty

white Coke can

A $3.3 billion coal gasification and carbon dioxide capture power plant owned by Duke Energy, built in order to pacify concerns over the fake global warming scare, will increase rates for its Indiana customers by 14.5 percent the next two years.

The Indianapolis Star reported last week that ratepayers will cover nearly $2.6 billion of the plant’s costs, as the result of a deal between the utility, its industrial customers, and Indiana’s government advocate for electricity consumers. Duke’s shareholders will pay for the remainder of the facility, built in Edwardsport, Ind. Between the Charlotte-based utility and its main contractors on the plant – General Electric and Bechtel – construction costs soared from an estimated $1.985 billion in 2006 to $3.3 billion. Carbon dioxide capture and storage, like much renewable energy, is a technology that has not proven viable on a scale that would meet the electricity demands of … Read More ➡

GM Boycott Hurting Market Share?

Last week’s earnings report from General Motors revealed a troubling statistic for shareholders. GM’s market share for North America shrunk from 18.3% a year ago to 16.7% for the latest quarter. Not coincidently, a survey by Yahoo Autos revealed that a full 13% of consumers would now “never” consider purchasing a GM vehicle while another 15% are less likely to purchase. A negative perception of the auto bailout process and the continued political overtones at GM are the reasons for the boycott.

Another recent Rasmussen poll showed that 59% of Americans view the auto bailouts as a failure. The Yahoo Autos’ article puts a more positive spin on the auto bailouts stating that two thirds of Americans put GM on their shopping list. Unfortunately for GM, a loss of any segment of potential buyers causes the company to have to spend more in incentives to maintain market share.

Incentive spending … Read More ➡

Romney Must Clarify Positions on Auto Bailouts and Energy Subsidies

A couple of stories surfaced recently that should be of concern to voters that are analyzing how a Romney presidency would differ from the current administration. President Obama has a track record that can be examined to get a grasp of his agenda, but Governor Romney needs to further explain his positions on two key areas that many voters would expect to see a divergence with our present leader. The reports bring in to question whether or not Romney would be any different from the administrations over the past 12 years when it comes to dumping billions of taxpayer dollars into subsidies and bailouts.

The first of the issues revolves around the auto bailouts, which many of us feel were orchestrated with a goal of protecting favored political classes like the UAW rather than to assure that America’s auto industry returned to health with an eye on profitability and reduced … Read More ➡

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