Why Are We Subsidizing Obsolete Electric Car Technology?

We now have had some time to digest the groundbreaking news from General Motors that it is working on a “Tesla-Killer” electric car that will get 200 miles on a charge and cost about $30,000. The most obvious takeaway is that the news is more unfounded green hype from GM, something that they have been guilty of in the past when they over-promised on the Chevy Volt. The best indicator of how serious a challenge to Tesla the new report really is would be found in Tesla’s share price, which has gone from about $165 a share at the time of the news to the current price at around $185. While that barometer would give the indication that GM is once again exaggerating the potential for its latest green miracle car, let’s assume that the technology to develop a car that goes 200 miles on an electric charge at a … Read More ➡ “Why Are We Subsidizing Obsolete Electric Car Technology?”

State Pension Funds and Big Investment Firms: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

piggy bankThe financial crisis brought havoc to just about every financial institution in the country. But let’s focus on the current status of state pension funds, where the crisis is beginning to look particularly grim.

Just how underfunded are state pension funds?  The estimates start at well over a trillion dollars and go up from there.  The answer depends on the observed time period, the difficulty in raising taxes on an already overtaxed public, and the severe problems in getting decent returns without taking unacceptable risks.

But consider the fundamentals.  The disproportionately large baby boomer generation born from 1946 to 1964 already has begun retiring. This represents a demographic time bomb even without the economy faltering.

Then consider that a study of state pension funds released in 2012 showed that annual returns for large public pension funds averaged about 5.9% over the last ten years despite the fact that the target … Read More ➡ “State Pension Funds and Big Investment Firms: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?”

Bailed-Out GM Takes On Tesla – With Car That Doesn’t Exist

The internet has been abuzz with stories about General Motors competing with Tesla by offering a vehicle that will get 200 miles on an electric charge and cost only $30,000. One headline even declared that GM might be the winner of the competition with the title reading, “GM Takes on Tesla- and Just Might Win.” The only problem is that the car being hyped does not even exist. Nor may it ever.

GM has much experience in the field of green vehicle hype now having a couple of years under their belts with the Chevy Volt. Those in the media that bought on to the hype and helped spread the good (but false) word on the Volt do not seem to have learned from the experience. Perhaps it is GM’s multi-billion dollar marketing budget that helps influence coverage that is not based on facts. Or maybe it is … Read More ➡ “Bailed-Out GM Takes On Tesla – With Car That Doesn’t Exist”

House Committee Grills DOE Loan Program Director Over Secret Emails

Jonathan SilverA hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform last week investigated the Obama administration’s practice of concealing email communications, with former top officials getting grilled about their use of private Internet accounts to conduct government business.

Two of the most egregious offenders were subject to withering scrutiny, although it didn’t last long enough to get very deep. Lisa Jackson, the former EPA Administrator whose FOIA-evadable email address was under the alias “Richard Windsor” – named in part for her dog – was questioned about a message sent to Siemens vice president Alison Taylor in which she asked her to “use my home email rather than this one when you need to contact me directly….”

Jackson, of course, said it was perfectly normal to direct a corporation official that she regulates to communicate with her via methods for which the public has no access. Marlo Lewis of … Read More ➡ “House Committee Grills DOE Loan Program Director Over Secret Emails”

Volt Sales in August Cost Taxpayers Over $25 Million

Volt and AkersonIt looks like General Motors is attempting to make up for the money it loses on every Chevy Volt in volume as August sales, spurred by recent price cuts, reached an all-time high of 3,351. The fact that the car has been on the market for about three years and initial much-hyped proclamations from GM would have put sales at 20,000 per month by now goes unrecognized by those that think 3,351 vehicles is a lot of cars to sell in a month. To put the sales in perspective, it took Toyota about 2 ½ days to sell that many Camrys with August sales coming in at 44,731. Fortunately for taxpayers, Volt sales are nowhere near those figures. The 3,351 Volt sales came at the expense of over $25 million dollars of federal subsidies.

The big three plug-in electric cars, Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf and Tesla, led combined plug-in car … Read More ➡ “Volt Sales in August Cost Taxpayers Over $25 Million”

Hidden Incentives Help Drive GM Sales

Impala photoThe auto industry, including Detroit manufacturers, reported strong sales numbers for the month of August. Sales for the industry rang in at pre-recession levels hitting over 16 million units on an annualized basis. While General Motors got its fair share of the wealth, one unusual tactic to drive sales stands out. That is the use of “stair-step” incentives which are paid to dealerships in the month following the reported sales.

Stair-step programs pay dealerships based upon predetermined sales goals being reached at showrooms. As higher goals are attained, more incentive money is allocated towards each vehicle sold. Automotive News reported last week that GM has been “running an unusually broad” level of the incentives. It also seems “unusual” that the brand new Chevy Impala has been included in the program.

Using the stair-step tactic allows GM to report a lower amount of incentive spending for the month. As GM … Read More ➡ “Hidden Incentives Help Drive GM Sales”

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 sales … Read More ➡ “Critic: Tesla HAD to Repay Its Dept of Energy Loan to Avoid Default”

The Obama Green Failure Train Rolls on With Ecotality

Volt recharging photoThirteen years ago a former executive chef/kitchen manager launched an environmentally friendly cleaning products company to compete with industry giant Ecolab, his former employer, where he had worked and achieved the position of district sales manager.

At the end of 2004 he gave up that money-losing business and turned it over to a partner, who in the first quarter of 2006 turned it into an electric vehicle charging company run by a former hotel chain executive – a self-described “political beast” – who would heavily depend on government subsidies for the revised company’s survival.

With this dysfunctional history, is it any wonder why Ecotality is on the verge of bankruptcy?

The San Francisco-based subsidy sucker had a bad August. It began under the pall of a Department of Energy Inspector General’s report which found that slow electric vehicle sales affected the worthiness of Ecotality’s $135 million taxpayer-funded charging network. Money … Read More ➡ “The Obama Green Failure Train Rolls on With Ecotality”

SIGTARP Report – Obama Admin Lied about GM Bankruptcy Process

For years the Obama Administration maintained that they had no significant involvement in the day to day operations at General Motors as the company was guided through a taxpayer-funded bankruptcy process. A report from the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) now sheds light on the process and confirms that the Administration did, in fact, drive decisions at GM. One such decision saw GM provide taxpayer funds to “top-off” pensions for politically-favored UAW retirees at Delphi while non-union retirees lost the majority of their benefits. Treasury officials previously denied any involvement in the actions.

The non-union retirees at Delphi have been trying to get their story heard for years. The Chair for the Delphi Salaried Retirees, Dennis Black, offered the following statement regarding the SIGTARP report, “SIGTARP’s finding that Treasury was greatly involved in the involuntary termination of our pension plan legitimizes our request that Treasury … Read More ➡ “SIGTARP Report – Obama Admin Lied about GM Bankruptcy Process”

Obama Administration Subpoenaed in Delphi Retiree Scandal

DelphiThe House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has announced that it has served Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew a subpoena to obtain records relating to the Delphi retirees’ pension scandal. Up to this point, the Obama Administration has stonewalled attempts by Congress to get an explanation on why Treasury seemed to be involved in orchestrating preferential treatment for unionized retirees over non-union retirees at Delphi during General Motors’ bankruptcy process.

An article at Vindy.com reports that the Obama Administration’s lack of cooperation regarding the Delphi case for the past three and a half years has left the Oversight Committee no choice but to subpoena the documents from Treasury. Here is a full explanation from the piece:

“Congress has made repeated requests with the Treasury for what lawyers representing the salaried retirees estimate could be as many as 30,000 documents that could help determine why they saw their pensions slashed by more

Read More ➡ “Obama Administration Subpoenaed in Delphi Retiree Scandal”