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$529M DOE Loan Spawns $97K Made-in-Finland Cars

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the mission-accomplished dept.

Earth 372

theodp writes "With PR successes like the Fisker Karma, does the Department of Energy need to worry about PR failures like Solyndra? ABC News and others are reporting that electric car company Fisker, which received a $529M federal loan guarantee with the approval of the Obama administration, is assembling its first line of $96,985 base-priced hybrid cars in Finland, saying it could not find a facility in the United States capable of doing the work. According to Green Car Reports, Fisker said the EPA had rated the Karma at 54 MPGe (MPG-equivalent) when running on electricity from its battery pack, and that the EPA-rated electric range would be 32 miles. Omitted from the press release was the 20-mpg rating for a Karma running on power from its range-extending gasoline engine."

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Sincerity? (5, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 2 years ago | (#37794716)

Considering the high price of labour in Finland (where even illiterate cleaners make $13/hour), could this be a rare instance of a company telling the truth when it says it had to outsource because it couldn't get the work done in America? It's hard to believe that this work is being relocated just to cut costs.

Re:Sincerity? (4, Interesting)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 2 years ago | (#37794798)

Funny, Tesla doesn't have any problems building fully electric cars at the ex-NUMMI plant in California, and Chevrolet doesn't have any problems building the range-extended Volt in Hamtramck/Detroit, MI. Sounds like Fisker should have their loan called.

Re:Sincerity? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37795186)

Big difference to make only few cars vs making a lot of cars. The factory in Finland specializes on small patches and high profile cars such as Porche Boxter. Even the article says first line of cars coming from Finland. If the car sells more than few thousand then US plants can be asked to make bigger orders. I doubt US has such an advanced manufacturer capable of making small patches cost efficiently.

Re:Sincerity? (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795226)

That is as interesting as the 32 mile battery life and the 20mpg gas engine for 95K/per car

based on hybrid car standards, this is pretty darn terrible.

Re:Sincerity? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795310)

That is as interesting as the 32 mile battery life and the 20mpg gas engine for 95K/per car

based on hybrid car standards, this is pretty darn terrible.

Sounds likt he Homer-mobile equivilent

Re:Sincerity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37795348)

Most hybrids don't produce 402 horsepower at the differential or 959 pound-feet of torque, either.

What I want to know is whether they'll be able to pay back the loan. That's an important measure in whether this was a bad idea, just as much as "creating juuuurrbs".

Re:Sincerity? (1)

beltsbear (2489652) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795380)

Yea, but it looks good. Really, have you seen pics of this car? WOW. Also well done is the campy/sexy advertising. On the technical side, the 32 mile range is pretty good for a car that size. Just don't run out of charge because 20mpg is now less then many full size pickup trucks.

Re:Sincerity? (2)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795526)

based on hybrid car standards, this is pretty darn terrible.

By any standards, this is quite terrible. So with a gallon of fuel and a full charge you can drive 32 + 20 = 52 miles. I can drive a bit over 60 miles per UK gallon / 50 miles per US gallon, without having to charge. And immediately after that, I can go another 60 miles with the next gallon, without having to recharge at all. And my car costs just a tiny little bit less than $95,000.

Re:Sincerity? (0, Flamebait)

durrr (1316311) | more than 2 years ago | (#37794858)

There's very few Illiterate people in Finland, the education system is top notch. Also, corruption is very low.
Maybe they plan forward. When enraged crowds torch all of the US they'll still have their plant in a stable enviroment.

Re:Sincerity? (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 2 years ago | (#37794972)

There's very few Illiterate people in Finland, the education system is top notch.

"Illiterate" is rather an exaggeration, but my point was that people without much education are able to receive a salary that in the US would seem fairly generous for the work done. When I moved to Finland for graduate school, I didn't speak Finnish for some time and so the only work available to me was cleaning. Among my colleagues, which also included a great deal of foreign students like myself, were refugees who came from some horrible places and had little formal schooling. Nonetheless, we all started off at 9 euro/hour and then received raises after a pretty short time at the same place.

Re:Sincerity? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37795128)

God forbid people should be compensated for doing physical work, next they'll be wanting basic human rights and the vote, fucking peasants.

Re:Sincerity? (1)

dintech (998802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795218)

Human Rights? Luxury! When I were a lad, I got spat on as a thank you as thanks, and I was lucky!

Re:Sincerity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37795406)

We used to dream of being spat upon.

Re:Sincerity? (2, Interesting)

durrr (1316311) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795238)

Low tier jobs are usually really fucking boring and should not have absolutely bottom-tier pay unless really effortless. Generous pay to keep morale decent and generally ensure social(and economic, and mental) stability should anyway always take precedence over shaving away benefits to those who need them the most in the name of maximizing profits(by adding another 0.0001% to the company surplus, save those money by dropping the CEO wage instead).

You may refer to it as generous, might be, but I'd more prefer to consider it to simply be humane, the ice-cold greed that somehow have become modus operandi in most of the world is nothing short of pathological.

Re:Sincerity? (-1, Redundant)

kunwon1 (795332) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795558)

+1

Re:Sincerity? (2)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795570)

People pay for what they value. If low tier jobs have low pay scales, it's because there is a ready supply of labor to fill those positions, even though the pay sucks. OTOH, highly skilled workers, especially in a niche industry, are rather more difficult to come by, and the pay scales reflect that value. That's not pathological, and that's not greedy. That's rewarding those who are willing to invest the time and effort into making themselves more valuable to prospective employers, and that's a Good Thing.

Re:Sincerity? (1)

rasmusbr (2186518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795204)

That's true. Finland has what could be described as the world's best public school system and is in a good position to build a modern tech industry centered around Helsinki, or rather to improve on the one they already have.

The grandfather post probably refers to illiterate refugees from Africa and the Middle East, although I doubt that your average cleaning firm would hire someone who can't read.

Re:Sincerity? (2)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795272)

There are very few Illiterate people in Finland

Fixed that for you.

Sincerely,
a Finn.

Re:Sincerity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37794888)

No, it's extremely believable. Manufacturing plants (especially in the US) that takes orders on small volumes are quite a bit more difficult to find, especially when taking into considering that the product in question is a car.

It's not a victory just reaching the manufacturing stage, it's only a victory if they can sell enough to at least break even. At the price tag of $96,985, that remains to be seen given the current economy.

Fisker is from Scandinavia (2)

Quila (201335) | more than 2 years ago | (#37794906)

Maybe pushing work back to the home region?

Re:Sincerity? (5, Interesting)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795282)

Actually, the availability of certain manufacturing processes and related skills is often localized. There are several kinds of modern manufacturing process which appear to be unavailable or uncommon in the US.

One of the products I designed has certain parts (passive, but necessarily complex in shape) which are made in Finland, simply because no US or Canadian supplier could be found who could make them in moderate quantities. The only US bids received stated that they assumed we had made an error in the RFQ, and actually required quantities in the tens of thousands. These suppliers relied on a manufacturing process which required that scale and would result in prohibitively expensive unit costs for a production run of mere hundreds. The supplier in Finland uses an entirely different industrial process, and can produce single digit quantities if necessary, at quite acceptable unit prices.

Electricity is relatively cheap here, etc. (1)

F69631 (2421974) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795372)

Wages are high but the cost of electricity is relatively low. I have no idea how big expense that is compared to wages but I'd guess that it amounts to something?

In any case... Let me be the first Finnish person here to say: Thank you. Fiskers is hiring also software developers over here and I've considered applying. If I will and if I'll get the job, I'll try to remember where my paycheck is coming from. :)

Re:Sincerity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37795440)

Quite wrong. We don't have any illiterate people in Finland. Also in our system people usually live with their income from the job instead of working three different ones. If you think the US system is better maybe you should go back to school yourself...

Re:Sincerity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37795512)

There are no illiterate cleaners in Finland. Finns have 99.99% literacy rate. You are corrected about the pay rate though. And that includes social security such as free health care.

Re:Sincerity? (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795546)

>> had to outsource because it couldn't get the work done in America

This seems pretty reasonable; the Finns have more experience assembling Ikea.

Boy, it's great being a taxpayer in America. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37794750)

You never know what you didn't buy that you're paying for anyway!

Re:Boy, it's great being a taxpayer in America. (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795368)

This is a drop in the ocean compared to the money given to GM so it could carry on losing money as fast as it ever did.

Fisker? (3, Funny)

Third Position (1725934) | more than 2 years ago | (#37794758)

The company name is "Fisker"? It's nice to see the American taxpayer getting exactly what he's paying for these days.

Re:Fisker? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37795122)

They also have a sibling company that is a TSA contractor, named "Fister"

Re:Fisker? (2)

chispito (1870390) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795322)

A simple, "... I hardly know 'er!" would suffice.

oh, really? (4, Interesting)

superwiz (655733) | more than 2 years ago | (#37794802)

They couldn't find a facility? Wasn't the whole point of these programs to build new facilities?

Re:oh, really? (3, Insightful)

JBMcB (73720) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795162)

No, the point of the program is free money from the federal government. And the politicians can say they've invested $int64 billion dollars in environmental programs. They don't really care what those programs are, they just need to get rid of the money.

Re:oh, really? (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795336)

They couldn't find a facility? Wasn't the whole point of these programs to build new facilities?

Fisker has a facility in the United States - in Delaware [autoblog.com] . They will use this facility, much like Tesla is using the old NUMMI facility in SoCal, for their mass manufacturing. The problem, so Fisker claims, is that they wanted to use a contract manufacturer for their initial production run (presumably while getting their main facility running, and by debugging their mfg processes with the early production run), but could not find a suitable contract manufacturer in the U.S. It's not like just any ol' company can build a car, and those that can are already doing just that: they go by the names of Ford, Chrysler, GM, and Toyota.

Great (5, Insightful)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 2 years ago | (#37794818)

So, not only are middle class tax dollars used to bail out and ensure the bonuses of those capable of affording a $90,000 "green" sports car, but they're also used to subsidize the production of said sports cars in another fucking country.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37794928)

> in another fucking country.

Because only USAians deserve jobs, remember.

Re:Great (4, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 2 years ago | (#37794986)

Because only USAians deserve jobs, remember.

If it's with my USA money, then yes.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37795074)

When it's USAians being stolen from, I'm pretty on board with the money going to USAians exclusively.

Re:Great (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795078)

Did you even read the... oh, what am asking! Derp!

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37795080)

Because only USAians deserve jobs, remember.

You are an idiot. I'll be waiting for you to write a check to the US treasury the next time you get paid, numb nuts.

Re:Great (4, Informative)

JBMcB (73720) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795094)

This isn't even the dumbest use of our money. We currently subsidize cotton farmers in Brazil, because the US was subsidizing cotton farmers in the southern states, and was found to be doing so in violation of free trade agreements by the WTO. So instead of cutting the subsidies to the US farmers, the US government also subsidizes Brazilian cotton farmers as a sort of pay-off. This isn't a small amount of money - it's in the billions every year.

Re:Great (3, Insightful)

Tridus (79566) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795140)

That's what happens when you let politicians near money.

Re:Great (2)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795240)

You're off by like 10^ 8th. It's actually not "billion". It's Brazillion. We told them, "sure we're going to continue to subsidize our farmers. But don't worry, we'll also give you guys Fifty Brazillion Dollars a year to make up for it."

Re:Great (0)

dave420 (699308) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795126)

It was a loan, so it will be repaid, and with interest.

Re:Great (3, Insightful)

John Bresnahan (638668) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795206)

It was a loan, so it will be repaid, and with interest.

Just like Solyndra, I'm sure.

Re:Great (1)

darth dickinson (169021) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795252)

Assuming the company turns enough of a profit to repay said loans. It worked so well for Solyndra, after all...

Education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37794836)

Finland is known for their great education system, so it is no small wonder that they are more capable.

The DOE loan is for the Nina (4, Informative)

rednip (186217) | more than 2 years ago | (#37794840)

The DOE loan is for the Nina, it'll be built in An shutdown Saturn plant [wikipedia.org] in Delaware. Not the Karma.

Re:The DOE loan is for the Nina (2, Interesting)

Cinder6 (894572) | more than 2 years ago | (#37794918)

FTA: "The loan to Fisker is part of a $1 billion bet the Energy Department has made in two politically connected California-based electric carmakers[...]"

Sounds like it's both.

Re:The DOE loan is for the Nina (1, Insightful)

rednip (186217) | more than 2 years ago | (#37794952)

Sounds more like reactionary garbage from a once grand newspaper sullied by it's new ownership.

Re:The DOE loan is for the Nina (4, Informative)

lwriemen (763666) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795062)

Two companies doesn't equal two cars. FTA: "Between them, Fisker, at $529 million, and Tesla, at $465 million, have secured nearly $1 billion to jump-start production of their cars." Fisker and Tesla are two separate companies.

Re:The DOE loan is for the Nina (1)

Cinder6 (894572) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795138)

Sheesh, my bad. I was thinking Nina was from Tesla. Thanks for the correction.

Both are highly politically connected... (3, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795172)

Green is new the buzzword for hiding payments to political allies.

http://dev.publicintegrity.org/2011/10/20/7152/energys-risky-1-billion-bet-two-politically-connected-electric-car-builders [publicintegrity.org]

As in, Fisker is connect to an Al Gore group and Tesla is connected to Google leaders who are major fund raisers for ......

So just like Solyndra, none of this was about viability, this was all about who is connected to whom, follow the money. It is nothing more than politics as usual

Re:The DOE loan is for the Nina (0, Flamebait)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 2 years ago | (#37794998)

The DOE loan is for the Nina

No. Taxpayer money was put at risk for the benefit of a company in Finland. If the product and the company were plainly viable, there would be far more than the half billion dollars in US tax money racing to them from private investors all over the world.

This is an Obama administration fashion statement for rich lefties, and an ass-kiss aimed at socialist Scandinavia so they'll say one or two less sneering things about the US once in a while. The car is more or less pointless, the price tag is absurd, the impact on the economy is inconsequential, but the overall pattern is very telling.

Re:The DOE loan is for the Nina (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795184)

No. Taxpayer money was put at risk for the benefit of a company in Finland. If the product and the company were plainly viable, there would be far more than the half billion dollars in US tax money racing to them from private investors all over the world.

I thought that was the point of these government loans -- to back new technologies that aren't yet mainstream enough to attract private funding. Just because something isn't "plainly viable" doesn't mean that it's not worth doing. Even $90K electric cars can help drive innovation in the electric car space and new technologies and designs will trickle down into more affordable cars.

Or, we could sit back and wait for the Chinese to do the innovation and use their manufacturing prowess to sell us cheap electric cars.

Re:The DOE loan is for the Nina (1, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795280)

Or, we could sit back and wait for the Chinese to do the innovation and use their manufacturing prowess to sell us cheap electric cars.

Which is exactly how it turned out with solar panels, except the Obama administration put half a billion tax dollars on a bonfire in the Solyndra parking lots so we could be warm while we watched it happen. Of course, they rigged that financing situation so that a handful of private investors would get paid back before the taxpayers ... private investors who happened to be friends of and fundraisers for the Obama campaign. Classy, huh?

Let private companies attract private fundraising for this sort of thing. And let only those people lose out if it's a waste. And if it's successful, let them be rich for having been smart about it (though being smart, and reaping those rewards is now an Eeeeeevil 1% thing to do - and we can't have that now, can we).

Re:The DOE loan is for the Nina (1)

rednip (186217) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795294)

This is an Obama administration fashion statement for rich lefties

No, it's the reactionary media doing what it always does, feed lies and distortions to people just like you. Did you even once look up 'Fisker Nina'; that answer would be very telling.

It's not surprising, you'all did the same thing with Clinton (and her husband) was President in the 90's. The GOP always seems to think that 'they win' when the American middle class loses, sad really.

Re:The DOE loan is for the Nina (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795036)

http://gigaom.com/cleantech/fisker-scores-529m-doe-loan-to-start-project-nina/ [gigaom.com]

Actually, the loan is for both vehicles, though the Karma was always intended to be assembled overseas.

It's sad that anyone with Google and a couple spare minutes can do a better job of vetting stories than the Slashdot editors.

Re:The DOE loan is for the Nina (1)

obsess5 (719497) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795054)

The Green Car Reports link in the summary confirms this partly (it doesn't name the vehicle): "Work Funded: $169 million for engineering integration work on the Karma; $360 million for development of a mid-size extended-range electric vehicle, to be built in a former GM plant in Wilmington, Delaware"

Re:The DOE loan is for the Nina (5, Informative)

mtrachtenberg (67780) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795110)

Yes, the DOE loan is for the Delaware plant. This fact is well-known: http://www.examiner.com/electric-car-in-national/fisker-automotive-grabs-529-million-from-the-doe

And that omission, soulskill, is either incompetent or dishonest.

Re:The DOE loan is for the Nina (1)

dr2chase (653338) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795520)

never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Excellent (0)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37794860)

Now a GM exec just has to buy a Fisker Karma so he can ride his tax-funded car to his tax-funded job where all tbe profits are private. What are those oil industry regulator women doing nowadays? Maybe he can get a tax-funded blowjob under his desk.

Meanwhile, right-wingers call the OWS movement a bunch of entitled hippies.

Re:Excellent (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37794988)

Meanwhile, right-wingers call the OWS movement a bunch of entitled hippies.

uhhh... So a democrat president and a democrat congress both throw money at these companies and it is the GOP's fault? Interesting theory...

Re:Excellent (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795058)

Who said it was the GOP's fault?

Maybe that's why right-wingers hate OWS, they assume OWS supports the Democrats, on whose term they're protesting (???).

Re:Excellent (0)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795098)

So a democrat president and a democrat congress both throw money at these companies and it is the GOP's fault? Interesting theory...

You don't understand the left.

Everything is the fault of the right wing conspiracy; if GM had gone bust and all those union workers had been laid off, that would also have been the fault of the evil right wingers for refusing to give them a ton of taxpayers' money. Of course if GM shut down because the EPA passed a new regulation banning CO2 then it would be like those movies where the computer explodes when you give it data that 'does not compute'. Except they'd blame the right wing for that too.

Re:Excellent (1)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795448)

Fail. Clearly, you "don't understand" reality.
No money was "given" to GM. Get your facts straight, then try and put together a coherent argument.

Re:Excellent (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795474)

He's talking about Democrats, not the left.

Re:Excellent (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795114)

There was no attribution of fault for throwing money given to the GOP or the democrats.

Tesla Roadster Comparison (1)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 2 years ago | (#37794914)

Not sure of the Fiska car is a sports car...it'd better be for $100K. But if you're interested in comparing the MPG between the two, the Tesla Roadster Wikipedia entry [wikipedia.org] has an interesting breakdown of how it's calculated for electric cars. Short answer is it's about 123 MPG, but it's more complicated than that.

And a handy tidbit: apparently the replacement battery for the Tesla (7 years or 70,000 miles) is $12,000. And a funny story: getting off the ferry back home, a Tesla Roadster was parked on the curb with an attendant (probably the guy driving it onto the boat for the owner). Some young adults were unlocking their bike right next to it and they tipped over and missed it by about an inch. What happens when you accidentally scratch a $100,000 car? I'm assuming the owner just deals with it -- I mean, if you can toss $12,000 at a battery replacement, you likely can afford the insurance premium for a buff and paint job.

Re:Tesla Roadster Comparison (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37794968)

And a handy tidbit: apparently the replacement battery for the Tesla (7 years or 70,000 miles) is $12,000

Wow, seriously? That's a steal!

Elise (or AW11, or whatever) - engine + electric motor + replacement Tesla pack = Tesla Roadster for the middle class!

Re:Tesla Roadster Comparison (1)

jasno (124830) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795104)

Shit, I just modded.. ah well.. gotta respond to this.

Anyone who has equity in their home should really consider bumping up your insurance and adding an umbrella policy.

I work around the corner from an exotic car dealer, and a few months back I found myself behind a $1.5 million Bugatti Veyron. One slip of the foot and everything I own would be gone in a poof of carbon fiber dust.

I just got a quote for $1mil coverage(about $220/year on top of my normal premiums), bringing my auto coverage to $1.25 mil. Sure, it won't quite cover the Veyron, but should cover the lambos and bentleys.

Maybe the instructions on how to build the car ... (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#37794984)

... are written in Finnish?

Hybrid that gets 20MPG?? (5, Insightful)

Amigan (25469) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795050)

So for $89K you get an electric vehicle that doesn't go as far as the Chevy Volt (which costs $40K)? As a hybrid, it gets the equivalent of 20MPG? I thought the goal of the electric car was to do better than the gasoline powered vehicles. Tesla at least is all electric and has that wow factor. What was the business model that allowed the US Government to invest $500+M??

Re:Hybrid that gets 20MPG?? (1)

Bardwick (696376) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795174)

"I thought the goal of the electric car was to do better than the gasoline powered vehicles. " In the U.S. hybrid cars run on coal, not electric :).

Re:Hybrid that gets 20MPG?? (3, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795188)

What was the business model that allowed the US Government to invest $500+M??

That's easy. The primary investors in this company donate copiously to the campaign coffers of Democratic Party politicians.

Re:Hybrid that gets 20MPG?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37795292)

Business Model: Gore and Biden liked it

With a 0-60 nearly double the tesla, this thing's an all around turd. Just gold-plate a Volt and you have about the same car

The government is a horrible venture capitalist (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795416)

Of course we're going to pour billions into companies, having no venture capital experience, and even without a proper vetting process that will be adhered to.

(Dis)credit to Bush for signing this into existence, but Obama's corrupt administration of course had to make it worse. His own people told him Solyndra was a bad investment, but he and Chu were chummy with the owners and it was a big political "green" score. It went through anyway even before legally mandated evaluations were finished. Any VC firm operating like this would be out of money fast.

I'm sure Solyndra was only the first. We'll be seeing more.

Obama is a (2, Insightful)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795088)

proponent of the power of state, and believes that more of it, the better. He is a proponent of command economy, as evidenced by his goverment allocating economic resources according to ideology, rather than market realities.

How else to explain giving government money to these firms?

Re:Obama is a (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37795458)

proponent of the power of state, and believes that more of it, the better. He is a proponent of command economy, as evidenced by his goverment allocating economic resources according to ideology, rather than market realities.

I doubt Obama qualifies these companies himself, I'm not really sure why people mention his name, if he was a Dictator, this would be perfectly true, but as it is, the qualification of specific companies for the allocation of funds would be handled by various agencies according to the policies set by the government.

The state should have power, but it should be compact, as opposed to the current american government which is weak and massive.

Re:Obama is a (4, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795496)

Every president is a proponent of the power of the state. Especially liars like Ronald Reagan and Bush/Cheney, who expand state power to everyone's serious injury as they claim to avoid it.

You want an actually sensible explanation? You got it. [slashdot.org]

Re:Obama is a (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37795532)

It's funny to me how everyone here is complaining about how ridiculous these loans are and what a waste of taxpayer money they are, but yesterday there were as many people throwing a shit fit over ron paul wanting to cut funding to all of these subsidization programs and more just because a few government funded research centers would also be cut.

So they hate the people throwing our tax dollars around, but hate the guy who wants to stop it. That makes sense.

Whelp, that investment didn't work out (0)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795092)

As we all know, if at first you don't succeed, never -- under any circumstances! -- try anything ever again!! Whenever the DJI goes down by even a single point, I take out all my money, stuff it in a mattress, and curse myself for ever being so foolish as to invest in something that wasn't 100% guaranteed to pan out.

Also, it's just a flat out lie to make the title "$529M DOE Loan". It's a loan guarantee, not a loan. The taxpayers are in no way on the hook for anywhere close to $529M.

I also find it suspicious that the summary doesn't mention that this is a sports car. The price and fuel efficiency suddenly look a lot better when you compare it to a Corvette instead of a Civic. It may in fact be very successful in that market. But this point gets no mention... it's almost as if the submitter is a right-wing troll.

Re:Whelp, that investment didn't work out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37795334)

You know who could have predicted that Solyndra would fail?

The private investors who refused to risk their capital in that enterprise.

Re:Whelp, that investment didn't work out (3, Informative)

John Bresnahan (638668) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795342)

Also, it's just a flat out lie to make the title "$529M DOE Loan". It's a loan guarantee, not a loan. The taxpayers are in no way on the hook for anywhere close to $529M.

That's not how it worked with Solyndra. They borrowed the half-billion, using the government loan guarantee as collateral, and then declared bankruptcy, leaving the taxpayers on the hook for replaying the loan.

Broken window fallacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37795106)

Even if it does work out great (something that had yet to be seen) it's still a broken window fallacy. It's only a good move if the money is better used here than it would have been if left in the private sector (and with the CBO estimating 20-60% waste on every dollar so spent, it has to be significantly better).

Re:Broken window fallacy (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795534)

Wait, how is this the broken window fallacy? The broken window fallacy is the idea that replacing something which is perfectly good (e.g. breaking a window so that it must be replaced with a new window), contributes to economic growth.

I'm not sure how I see this fits the current story?

They wanted a contract manufacturer (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795156)

Being a "fabless automaker" doesn't work all that well. You can get exotics made that way, but it's too expensive for a production product.

Tesla's great achievement was that they finally made a usable, fun to drive electric car. It's overpriced, but it does work. I see them on the road all the time in Silicon Valley. I hope Tesla can actually get their sedan product to profitability. Tesla was lucky to pick up the NUMMI plant cheaply; they got a modern small car auto assembly plant in good condition, although it's far bigger than they need and they're only using part of it.

There are plenty of defunct auto plants for sale [motorsliquidation.com] in the US. Of course, those are the ones auto companies decided they didn't want to keep. Most of them are huge plants full of very specialized but obsolete machinery for making engines, transmissions, or body stampings in huge quantity. GM also dumped two assembly plants, both of which are for making pickups, SUVs, and Suburban/Hummer sized vehicles. Nobody wants those.

Are You Surprised? (1, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795164)

Are you really surprised by any of these payouts to completely uneconomic green (as in money) projects by BHO? Do you notice the pattern of $500 million loans? There seem to be BHO Big Bundlers involved in each of them. A Big Bundler is someone who gathered together at least $500,000 for the Obama campaign. Pretty good ROI here: Invest $500,000 and get back $500,000,000.00. We are being robbed by these Progressives on a grand scale never before seen in this country -- and there are still people who just can't wait to vote for this clown again!

And to add insult, their first Fisker $97K car only gets the equivalent of 19MPG -- the same as the average SUV. Damn, I'm mad.

Re:Are You Surprised? (0)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795456)

You Republicans never said a word while Bush/Cheney and your Republican Congresses were stealing $TRILLIONS. Except to blame everyone else, if you did admit it. You would vote for Bush/Cheney again. And indeed you will, when the Rombot or whatever standin comes up for auction next November.

You Republicans are stupid and evil. Proven every chance you open your mouths or cast a vote.

Re:Are You Surprised? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795482)

And to add insult, their first Fisker $97K car only gets the equivalent of 19MPG -- the same as the average SUV. Damn, I'm mad.

You need to compare it to the Lambos, Ferraris, etc. in it's market segment. See how economical they are...

Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37795166)

The war's over!!! [cbsnews.com]

Re:Who cares? (1)

Shompol (1690084) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795438)

...but the skyroketing national debt [wikipedia.org] used to finance the war is still with us.

Re:Who cares? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795514)

One of the wars might be over. Most of the action is in Afghanistan these days.

Is this supposed to be irony? (2, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795270)

I can't really tell from the wording... was "PR Success" meant as irony?

These specs seem to be really poor -- $100K price tag, only slightly less than the high-end Tesla sports car, 32 mile electric range, which the Roberts Electric Car built in 1896 beats by 20%, and 20 MPG on gasoline, which my F150 truck beats by 13% on the freeway. Do the people of Finland really have such low standards?

All this for $592M in US tax money for a product that doesn't create a single US job. This is a success that makes up for the failure of Solyndra?

And now we're calling the Solyndra bankruptcy, with it's loss of more than a half billion dollars of taxpayer money, a PR failure??

Seriously?

Re:Is this supposed to be irony? (3, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795304)

I really have a bad feeling about this. It's like people are using environmental issues to launder massive amounts of cash.

Finally... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795276)

You can run over someone's Dogma with your Karma.

Pork is nothing new. Pot kettle black. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37795290)

Funny how all this Pork makes it on the news as "Government Waste" when it's not a cause the benefits conservative constituents. Lets start talking about farm subsidies for flyover states and we'll see how these "green" wastes of money amount to a rounding error compared to the graft that goes in red states.

Investing in companies that are in new efficient technologies is not a bad idea. Of course they won't all be winners, but most new ventures aren't anyway.

Damn Socialists! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37795382)

Damn Socialists, how dare the compete with out capitalism!

How These Government Investments Work (4, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795420)

Electric car investment is clearly necessary. Without the investment, no electric cars. Private industry has had the opportunity for years, but blew it off in favor of gas guzzling SUVs and other trucks with suspended emissions regulations that it could sell to a market greased with fakeout balloon credit. That bizmodel crashed the car industry, while helping to drive up gas prices to $4+ and oil prices to $120+ - and made the Greenhouse even worse faster. Only when the public bailed out the US car industry (to save the rest of the US economy and industrial base) did it start to turn to serious electric product development.

But it's not enough. And because a lot of strategic progress hides behind multiple risky options, private industry (and finance) doesn't invest in it. Because those normal investors don't know how to invest in anything - which is why the entire investment industry had to get bailed out by the public. So the electric car investments have to come from the public, too.

Now, those investments are risky, as I said. Not too risky to do any of them, but too risky for each one to pay off. And when the government invests, it's far more efficient for it to invest in larger single investments, because managing a lot of little ones is beyond the ability to centrally plan and organize, especially given the volume and complexity of reporting and oversight that comes with any government contract. And then some of these investments will fail. Big ones will lose a lot of money.

Which is why private investment is better. Except private investment isn't doing it. Even before the Credit Bubble crashed, across many different bubbles (and even sustained growth), private investment wasn't doing it. Yet if we don't do it, either our resources and pollution crises will damage us more than the cost of the investment, or a foreign government will do it in ways that hurt us to help them, or most likely both.

So the government will have some Solyndras. It will have some Fiskers. Just as private investment would have had, though probably overall less wasted investment because there is so much more transparency (even if not enough) than when private investors make their deals - and fail. Plus government investment tends to take other policies, like US labor growth, into account that private investment ignores or worse. Not all the time, as is perhaps the case here with Fisker, but more than when private investment does it. Which, again, it is not doing here. And government investments, even when the commercial venture fails, tend to produce more usable lessons learned (and tech spun off) than private failures that usually keep the intellectual value suppressed in some new owner, or just left to rot entirely without a new use.

Global Democracy... (1)

ElitistWhiner (79961) | more than 2 years ago | (#37795424)

One loan at a time!

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