After Layoffs, Execs Get Big Raises at Taxpayer-Funded A123

A123 logoA taxpayer-funded electric vehicle battery company, that is considered in great danger due to its dependency on troubled EV company Fisker Automotive, has awarded its top executives big salary increases despite a steep downward trajectory in its stock price.

Massachusetts-based A123 Systems — which received $279.1 million in stimulus money from the Department of Energy, and up to $135 million in incentives from the State of Michigan — boosted the base salaries of two vice presidents and its chief financial officer on February 8.

Chief Financial Officer David Prystash was bumped 27 percent to $380,000; VP of Energy Solutions Robert Johnson’s base salary increased 51 percent from his 2010 level to $400,000; and VP of Automotive Systems Jason Forcier saw his pay rise 32 percent from 2010, to $350,000. The news was first reported by the Boston Web site of Citybizlist.com, which obtained the information from an A123 SEC filingRead More ➡ “After Layoffs, Execs Get Big Raises at Taxpayer-Funded A123”

LightSquared Fiasco Puts Harsh Spotlight on FCC’s Genachowski

Genachowski photoIn a major victory for the National Legal and Policy Center, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) yesterday reversed itself and revoked a controversial waiver it had granted LightSquared, which would have allowed the company to deploy a national wireless network. The reversal is not only a major setback for LightSquared’s billionaire owner Phil Falcone, but puts a harsh spotlight on the role of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.

According to Cecelia Kang of the Washington Post Tech blog:

The FCC’s decision is expected to all but end LightSquared’s aspirations to provide mobile broadband services via satellite airwaves — a plan that was touted from its inception by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. Under his tenure, the FCC granted the company a key conditional waiver in January 2011 that was meant to help fast-track the network.

A friend of President Obama’s from Harvard Law School, Genachowski has brought a culture of wheeling … Read More ➡ “LightSquared Fiasco Puts Harsh Spotlight on FCC’s Genachowski”

Why is GM Spending Millions to Re-Hype the Chevy Volt?

In the words of Yogi Berra, it looks like déjà vu all over again as General Motors plans to “relaunch” the Chevy Volt. Just in case you missed the first rollout that saw certain financial news networks dedicate loads of airtime to help GM build the hype surrounding a vehicle that was to be a savior for GM as support was garnered for a taxpayer bailout and subsequent IPO, we now get a second take on the failed first production.

Many of the same cast will appear as cronies at Motor Trend will be cited for giving the Volt Car of the Year award. If there was any question that Motor Trend is in the tank for GM and the Volt, just look at their report on January Volt sales where they stated, “As for the most improved models, there were some interesting inclusions: the best model was the … Read More ➡ “Why is GM Spending Millions to Re-Hype the Chevy Volt?”

What’s Behind Eastwood’s Super Bowl Ad?

It is mostly unanimous that Clint Eastwood’s Super Bowl ad appearance was a stirring and emotional tribute to America and Detroit. The ad was heartfelt, despite the fact that bailed out Italian-owned auto company, Chrysler, paid for it. Unless NBC offered some significant discounts to their ad rates, the ad cost Chrysler about $14 million. Considering the political nature of the ad and the fact that Chrysler vehicles were not touted in the ad, I must ask the cynical question; what’s in it for Italian-owned Chrysler?

Chrysler CEO, Sergio Marchionne, is a pretty smart guy. I don’t think he would cavalierly spend $14 million just to pay tribute to America and Detroit. An article in Businessweek touches on one possible ulterior motive when it states, “Chrysler continues to seek low-interest loans from the U.S. Energy Department to develop and produce fuel-efficient cars. The company sought $3.5 billion in such loans … Read More ➡ “What’s Behind Eastwood’s Super Bowl Ad?”

GM’s Dubious Super Bowl Ad Claims

Some very humorous (if not cost-effective) ads were exhibited by General Motors during this year’s Super Bowl game. GM continues to freely spend its stockpile of taxpayer supplied cash reserve as it even aired a spot touting the Chevy Volt. At a cost of $3.5 million for a 30 second spot the expense equals about 15% of the total revenues GM brought in during the entire month of January for the Volt when sales fell to a dismal level of 603. What is the reasoning behind spending so much to advertise a vehicle that sells in such small numbers and is not profitable if not political? But the ad that may lead to more controversy than the Volt folly was the one in which GM claims their trucks are more dependable than Ford’s; a claim that is highly debatable and not backed by studies at Consumers Reports (CR).

The ad … Read More ➡ “GM’s Dubious Super Bowl Ad Claims”

Green Tech Doesn’t Need Taxpayer ‘Investment’

Google logoPresident Obama said in his State of the Union speech last month that he would not “walk away from the promise of clean energy,” and according to a Politico report, he “doubled-down” on the promise by highlighting (more) commitments to federal grants and incentives for wind energy, solar power and natural gas vehicles in quasi-campaign speeches out West.

“We’re not going to cede the wind industry or the solar industry or the battery industry to China or Germany because we’re too timid to make that same commitment here in the United States,” the president said at another appearance at Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado. “We’ve got to double down on a clean-energy industry that’s never been more promising.”

The president speaks as if these energy technologies would wither without government support. But last year USA Today reported that big companies were “aggressively” jumping into clean technology, with one … Read More ➡ “Green Tech Doesn’t Need Taxpayer ‘Investment’”

UAW Weighs in on GM’s “No-Strike Clause”

UAW strike photoI recently questioned the existence of a binding “no-strike clause” that the media reported on back when General Motors was making a plea for its taxpayer-funded bailout. The claims were that the UAW could not strike at GM or Chrysler until 2015. UAW Communications Coordinator, Tom Brune, has responded and gave a bit of clarification as to what the so-called no-strike clause actually means.

The response by Mr. Brune is appreciated, but we still see this subject from two different points of view. My feeling is that the no-strike clause was misrepresented to the public and implied that UAW workers at GM could not strike until 2015. It seems Mr. Brune feels that the clause exists in the state of a National arbitration agreement as Local UAWs are required to have strikes approved by the International UAW and he requests that I “set the record straight.”

So here are some … Read More ➡ “UAW Weighs in on GM’s “No-Strike Clause””

What’s Behind Lutz’s Chevy Volt Tirade?

Bob Lutz & VoltWell-respected car guy and General Motors supporter, Bob Lutz, posted a piece on Forbes that attacked “right-wing” criticism of the Chevy Volt. With all due respect and noting that I have nowhere near the credentials of Mr. Lutz, I feel it appropriate to respond to the ridiculous defense that we have seen of a vehicle that is costing taxpayers billions of dollars while offering little in return. I also have some questions of my own for Mr. Lutz and GM.

First, let’s address the claims that criticism of the Volt is political. Why do those that have different opinions than those supporting the tax subsidization of the Chevy Volt get vilified as right-wing agents with an ulterior motive? It is also the height of hypocrisy to complain about criticism of the Volt being political when the car itself has been nothing but about politics.

Let’s review the history of the … Read More ➡ “What’s Behind Lutz’s Chevy Volt Tirade?”

Was UAW No-Strike Clause Another GM Bailout Deception?

Back during the days of General Motors’ bankruptcy proceedings, media reports cited the many “sacrifices” made by the politically favored UAW. I have long wondered what these many sacrifices were, as UAW members seem to be doing pretty well since the GM bankruptcy. One such “sacrifice” was a supposed agreement that the UAW could not go on strike at GM until after 2015, as mentioned in this Bloomberg piece, and accepted as fact by all media sources. I questioned this assertion in a piece I wrote in December of 2010, but as has been the case with much of the coverage of GM, the potential GM deception was left unchallenged by auto journalists and the mainstream media. Recent reports of a strike authorized by GM UAW workers in Kansas now raise the question of if my suspicions were correct that there are no binding agreements to prevent strikes at … Read More ➡ “Was UAW No-Strike Clause Another GM Bailout Deception?”

Taxpayers Take Hit as Layoffs, Bankruptcies Plague Green Firms

Ener1 photoFederal tax credits, loan and grant programs that expired at the end of last year have plugged the financial flow that made so-called “renewables” and electric vehicles viable, so they are now shedding employees and going bankrupt, illustrating that the “clean” industry owed its existence solely to government.

Even with the government money, they are failing. Yesterday Indiana-based Ener1, an energy storage company that received $118.5 million from DOEfiled for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Despite plans to have 1,400 employees in Indiana by 2015, the company had downsized in the state from 380 to approximately 250 since March. Ener1’s stock price fell from more than $4 a share to under a dollar, and the company was booted from the NASDAQ stock exchange in October, when its stock was trading for less than 20 cents.

The Department of Energy seems to have no limit in its willingness to subsidize … Read More ➡ “Taxpayers Take Hit as Layoffs, Bankruptcies Plague Green Firms”