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    Sunday, September 27, 2009

    Green Cars Get Green from Gore

    The conservative blogosphere is all a-twitter over the latest US government deal to loan $1B to specialty carmakers Fisker and Tesla to develop their hybrid/electric cars.

    It should be noted that much of the opposition stems from the fact that these cars will have some final assembly points outside the U.S.  In Fisker's case, this is Finland, and in Tesla's case, Great Britain for the Roadster, although the Model S Sedan is planned to be built in California. 

    It is of note that former VP (and green nut) Al Gore has a financial interest (through Kleiner-Perkins) in Fisker.  Fisker says they intend to bulld a $40k sedan in the United States, but, that machine has yet to be designed.  To their credit, they are California based (as is Tesla), and Fisker employs about 175 workers (supplier and Fisker) in Michigan, mainly doing engineering work.  The Fisker is not a hybrid, but it will use a gasoline engine to provide back-up electric power to extend the range of the vehicle to as much as 100 miles, according to Fisker.  Like the Chevy Volt, it is possible the Fisker could use the gas engine to charge the battery pack when it reaches some predetermined low point.

    The Tesla Roadster, based on the Lotus Elise, retails for about $110k.  Tesla plans a sedan for 2012, retailing at about $60k.  In the March Car and Driver, Tesla's founder (Elon Lusk, one of the founders of PayPal) lamented that he had only raised $40M and was hoping for a round of investment from GE Capital.  Of course, GE backed out, but a $465M loan from you taxpayers ought to brighten his day!  In May, Daimler (Mercedes) took a 10% stake in Tesla, so, how do you feel about your money now going to the German company who had the good sense to dump Chrysler years ago?

    Outside of the major auto manufacturers, these are probably the two companies with the best available options for making competitive hybrid or electric cars.  Are they worthy of taxpayer loans?  Personally, both these companies were already either producing and selling cars, or close to doing so.  They may have been able to make it on their own, without needing nearly $1B in loans from the feds.  They are not completely foreign companies as some would like us to believe, but, neither are they all-American, and the Gore connection to Fisker, and the democrat donor connection to Tesla, and the help given them by Pelosi should be troubling.

    Obama has made the car industry something the government feels compelled to be involved in on an intimate level, picking winners and losers.  What did we expect?

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