Hinterland Green

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fisker Automotive, Backed by Former Vice President Al Gore, Gets $$529 Million Government Loan

How is it possible that California startup Fisker Automotive Inc., which is backed by former Vice President Al Gore, was able to secure a $529 million U.S government loan to help build a hybrid sports car in Finland that will sell for about $89,000? This award follows a $465 million government loan to Tesla Motors Inc., purveyors of the ultra-pricey $109,000 British-built electric Roadster. Incidentally, Tesla is another California startup, but there's a twist, it has a number of celebrity endorsements that is backed by investors who have contributed to Democratic campaigns. It is really unfair that the average working class American will not benefit from Fisker or Tesla's products, but the very wealthy. Why can't the government ever show that it really cares about the average American citizen? Other companies that would service the needs of the taxpayers have had their bids rejected, instead the companies with vehicles aimed at the wealthiest customers are getting the loans at our expense. That's just shameful and wrong.

Fisker's Karma hybrid sports car, above, will initially cost about $89,000.

Fisker's Karma Hybrid sports car AFP/Getty Images

 According to the Wall Street Journal, Henrik Fisker, who designed cars for BMW, Aston Martin and Tesla before starting his Fisker Automotive in 2007, said his goal is to build the first plug-in electric hybrids that won't sacrifice the luxury, performance and looks of traditional gas-powered luxury cars. Enter the Karma and guess who was one of the first to sign up for one? Mr. Al Gore himself. Thanks a million Al Gore for showing the American people what you really value and how much you really care about our needs. According to the WSJ, Mr. Fisker said he pitched Gore at an event hosted by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers last year and he almost immediately submitted a down payment on the car. Kalee Kreider, a spokeswoman for Gore, confirmed that he backs Fisker. Doesn't this muddy the water as to how this company managed to land such an enormous loan?

Fisker said that most of the DOE loan will be used to finance U.S. production of a $40,000 family sedan that has yet to be designed.  They claim that it was "the ability to drive a significant change in fuel economy across a large market segment that swayed the department to approve Fisker's loan." Fisker's government loans will  reportedly come from a $25 billion program established by Congress in 2007 to help auto makers invest in the technology to meet a new congressional mandate to improve fuel efficiency. In June, the DOE awarded the first $8 billion from the program to Ford Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co., and Tesla, which are all developing electric cars.
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